Thank you to Briohny Doyle for putting together this mixtape for The Lifted Brow. Briohny’s debut novel, The Island Will Sink, is the first book published by The Lifted Brow. You can purchase the book here (and if you do so before the end of this week, you’ll get a free back issue of the Brow).
It took me a really long time to finish The Island Will Sink. Almost ten years. In that time people died, my dog died, I finished a PhD, I broke up with someone and got together with someone else, made some new friends, read hundreds of books, grew up. It’s really hard for me to point at some music and say, ‘Here, this is the music that inspired this book.’ So I went back through the decade and picked the two songs that were on high rotation that year. I associate particular times with songs rather than albums. Some of the years were really easy. I listened to that damn Mountain Goats song every day in 2007 and then I just stopped. I guess I did make it through the year. I had ‘Gunslinger’ as my ringtone when you could first do that kind of thing, before anyone realised what a bad idea it is. The first bar makes me really anxious now.
Some of these songs are road trip songs, and remind me of particular adventures. In 2010 I listened to ‘Pirouette’ constantly as I jogged along the banks of the Ota River in Hiroshima and thought about the end of the world. No surprise that Donna Fargo had her airtime on a USA trip but there is something about that song that is both joyous and totally deluded, like the singer is on the verge of a nervous breakdown all the way through. It really does capture how I felt in my thirtieth year. 2008 and 2014 were the big redraft years, so it is no surprise that the songs I was obsessed with were a little more sombre. Some of the songs on here are from movies that blew my mind (‘Modern Love’ is in Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang and ‘Under My Spell’ is in Drive). It was movies, and not music, that influenced the aesthetic universe of The Island Will Sink. I suppose I could have made a mixtape full of Angelo Badalementi, Cliff Martinez, Ry Cooder and Vangelis but that seemed hard, and would anyone actually want to listen? Actually, in the world of the novel, Max is constantly listening to a ‘Viennese dub quartet’ called Schwerbut, which I made up, and which sounds utterly dreadful to me, like just the worst music. 2015 and 2016 have been strange years – my book came out, I got some other nice breaks but lots of my loved ones were having a really hard time so it makes sense that the songs are all kind of gritted teeth celebrations of human frailty. Which is what my book is too.
1. The Mountain Goats – This Year
2. Shellac – Prayer to God
3. The Kill Devil Hills – Gunslinger
4. The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walking In The Sand)
5. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
6. Royal Trux – Ray O Vac
7. The Jesus and Mary Chain – April Skies
8. Tall Dwarfs – Pirouette
9. Sonic Youth – Quest for the Cup
10. Desire – Under Your Spell
11. Lana Del Ray – Video Games
12. David Bowie – Modern Love
13. Loretta Lynn – High on a Mountain Top
14. Donna Fargo – Happiest Girl in the Whole USA
15. Evan Dando – Hard Drive
16. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – We Die and See Beauty Reign
17. X – The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss
18. L7 – Broomstick
19. Kanye West – Hold My Liquor
20. Sparks – Angst in My Pants
Briohny Doyle is a Melbourne-based writer and academic. Her debut novel, The Island Will Sink, is the first book published by The Lifted Brow, and will be available from August 2016. Briohny’s work has appeared in publications like The Lifted Brow, The Age, Overland, Going Down Swinging and Meanjin, among others, and she has performed her work at the Sydney Festival and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.