I imagine most people have records they love, by bands they know nothing about. I guess the internet should end this phenomena, but there are a few records I know and love where everything I know about the band is deduced by looking at the cover. So basically it's all made up, I'll look at the band photo (if there is one) and think "oh those two look like they hate each other" or "I bet they're a couple".
So what records fall into this category for me? Well these days it International Airport and The Bristols. Both bands are fairly recent, but seemed to have petered out by the time I got into them. They are also remarkable for having amazing sounding records. International Airport's Nothing We Can Control just sounds so perfectly balanced. Chief band dude Tom Crossley seemed/seems to be loosely linked to The Pastels and there's clearly a similar sound to Pastels circa Mobile Safari. Only I think they manage the sound better than The Pastels do, each layer delicately stacked on another until you're left with no so much a wall of sound as a forest of sound. I wish I'd bought up more of their stuff when I was in Monorail last year, but I just didn't expect to become so obsessed when I rediscovered the record.
The garage rock revival of c2001 didn't really interest me too much at the time. Although now I think if the bands had sounded more like The Bristols and less like The Von Bondies it would have been very different. Their record In Tune With The Bristols is an absolute blast. I remember I bought it a couple years ago, but never really gave it much of chance. But since arriving back in New Zealand it hasn't left my 'currently listening' shelf. It's suitably recorded at the famous Toe Rag studios in London and is probably the best example I've heard of what that studio represents. It's analogue and vintage equipment used not out of nostalgia, but out of a recognition of quality. Liam Watson who ran the studio also seemed to run The Bristols, so it's hardly a surprise I guess. To me The Bristols interpretation 60s garage rock doesn't feel 'retro', rather just the natural way the songs and the band sound.