FIVE FAVOURITES: Leggy

Having recently shared stages with The Spook School, Personal Best and Pile, angular punks Leggy  have been functioning at full speed. Formed of Véronique (lead vocals/guitar), Kerstin Bladh (bass) and Chris (drummer), the band released their album ‘Let Me Know Your Moon’ via Sheer Luck Records this year, as well as playing a run of shows at SXSW and completing a successful US tour.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Véronique & Chris to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out their choices below, and make sure you listen to Leggy’s track ‘Taffy’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Eisley – Marvelous Things
Veronique: Discovering this EP while watching some type of late night Subterranean MTV channel changed my life. I remember it was right before Christmas 2013, and I put this on my Christmas list and my cool Dad, who loves music, got it for me. The vocal melody in Marvelous Things is true art and hearing it the first time ran shivers down my spine! It’s so simple and yet so unique, brilliant and dark . Also, discovering this band which was being led by young womxn, MY AGE (13!!!!) was inspiring. I felt like I could picture myself doing it too. Some of the first tabs I ever learned were super early Eisley songs . I named this EP because it was the first one I discovered, but I delved deep into the back catalogue after that, and all of it was highly influential in my first several years of songwriting.

2. Kesha – Cannibal
Veronique: This album was the anthem of my 21st year. I have so many fun feelings associated with it. I also have a lot of depressing memories tied to it (21, amiright??) The album is amazing – the lyrics were extremely relatable to me at that point in my life, and still continue to be relevant. Kesha is a damn boss bitch. I love pop music and simple but super dope beats, and I especially think it can be super beautiful when a rock band incorporates that sound a bit. I have certainly been influenced by her songwriting style.

I’m also 10000% over “music people” or “punks” or “intellectuals” hating on pop stars. I know it hasn’t been the case recently (thank you LIZZO, Carly Rae, Lana Del Rey) but Kesha was underrated in her first years. Fight me.

3. Joanna Newsom – Milk Eyed Mender
Veronique: Milk Eyed Mender made me feel knock kneed and tongue tied. The fact that she was singing in such a bare bones and peculiar way felt like complete anarchy to me. It kinda felt like she had declared “anything goes” – you didn’t have to be the standard to make music. That mindset totally inspired me to start writing a bunch of weirdo songs when I was in high school. Some of them evolved and eventually made it onto our first two EPs. Her whimsical and narrative heavy style of lyrics (similar to Eisley’s in this way) was really wonderful for someone like me, who was obsessed with fantasy at the time and spent a good deal of my waking day dreaming about random mystical shit (Lord of The Rings, anyone?) Also, Joanna Newsom was definitely a crush of mine before I knew what it meant. That’s just a bonus though.

4. Mika Miko – C.Y.S.L.A.B.F
Chris: True concrete floor dance party anthems. Big rowdy punk heavy hitters with a relentlessly dancey rhythm section, shout along until your out of breath. It has on point bopping guitar, and swing from the chandeliers energy. Still slams in 2019. Remember getting this the day my suburban record shop got it in stock and it’s been on rotation ever since. Soundtrack to a lot of fun times and long late drives. Wall to wall banging fun with undeniable hooks. Fuckin sick. KRS classic imo. Not sure if this has been long enough of a review so I’d also like to add The Blow’s “Paper Television” to this favorite album. Similar reasons I guess, same kinda era etc. Way different but y’know both are influential, make me happy and totally rock!

5. Best Coast – Crazy For You
Chris: Front to back contemporary classic. Every song is a hit. Love everything about it. The guitars and vocals and lyrics and drums and videos and everything. One time like years ago, my roommate and I were tripping in different parts of our place down on 12th Street and when I went to her room to see what was up, she was wearing shades, drinking a cocktail, blasting this record and lounging on her bed under a heat lamp because it was like 4am in the dead of winter. This album is like that y’know, a warm sunny day in summer, or a stoned heat lamp on a cold winter night, whatever you need it to be. Still really heavy hitting emotionally though, not just all fun in the sun. But also yeah. Just great. Love this album!

Thanks to Véronique and Chris for sharing their favourites with us. Follow Leggy on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Stainwasher

Swedish artist Stainwasher is not one to shy away from darker states of emotion. Her 2018 debut EP What Did I See, was a sonic journey through personal fears and unsettled thoughts, and her new single ‘Drying’ flows in a similar vein. She explores both the good and the bad in the world through soaring synths and tentative vocals, believing that it’s “easier seeing life as an experiment, rather than something absolute.”

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Stainwasher to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her new track ‘Drying’ at the end of this post.

1. Mazzy star – Among My Swan
Hope Sandoval is for sure my favourite singer, and it seems that every track she sings on instantly becomes magic. This album is amazing. It’s mysterious, beautiful and very inspiring to me. This album is actually the biggest reason I use tambourines, sliding guitars and organ in my music, which says a lot about my feelings for the album. The track ‘Umbilical’ is so stunning it makes my thoughts blurry, which is very nice sometimes, and the track ‘Happy’ is just perfect with its perfect chords mixed with perfect vocals. I love CDs and have most of my favourites on CD, including this. The best way I enjoy this album is to listen to it on speakers while lying on the sofa, smiling and thinking that if we lost everything, we would still have Hope Sandoval!

2. Portishead – Third
The biggest reason for mentioning this album is the track ‘The Rip’, which I usually call my all-time favourite song. I’ve got a thing for songs that build up and slowly explode, and this song does it so well! The first times I heard Portishead I had a difficult time listening to them because I genuinely got scared by the creepy music and spooky voice, but when I heard Third, I was hooked and got used to the weird but pleasant feeling they left me with. I think the most inspiring thing about this album – and their music in general – is the structure of their songs, and how making surprising changes seem so natural.

3. The Knife – The Knife
I’ve loved this duo since I was like 13, and it is impossible to get tired of their music. This was the first full album from them that I heard, by borrowing the CD from my dad. I remember being so fascinated by their music, even though it was catchy, it still was super special. I can’t say exactly how this album inspired my own music, I think The Knife always have been in the back of my mind when making music, perhaps I wanted that uniqueness they have. The anonymous part of Stainwasher is most likely influenced by The Knife. If I wasn’t so scared of playing live, I bet my shows would be very inspired by their live performances as well, except that tour where they do aerobics since I hate sports.

4. Nordpolen – På Nordpolen
Where do I begin. This guy saved my teenage years and still saves me from time to time. I didn’t like going to concerts when I was younger due to panic attacks, but I knew I HAD to see Nordpolen live, so he became the reason I faced those fears. However the most special memory I have with his music is when he played at Emmaboda (a Swedish festival), and I was not there. I was in bed crying and listened to his album from start to end pretending I was there. Nordpolen is also the biggest reason I started making music. It sounds a bit cliché, but he had helped me so much with his music and I thought if I could help or induce some kind of emotion for someone with music, I would be so grateful. In this album, he uses a lot of synth-choirs, which inspired me to try that as well. His lyrics are very straight-forward, something I love and also try to achieve. Even though the lyrics are sad, this album leaves me with a streak of hope.

5. Hazelnut ice-cream
I have a hard time making my last choice, no album feels right. That’s why I’ll tell you about my favourite ice-cream flavour, hazelnut. I was seven years old the first time I tried hazelnut ice-cream which was in Italy on a vacation with my family. I was immediately stuck and that was pretty much my diet for the rest of the vacation. The flavour is an amazing mix of salty, fat and sweet, and I can eat a lot without getting tired of the taste. Whenever I eat something really nice I become quiet, I want to absorb what I’m eating and it bothers me when people distract me, or even worse, want to taste from my plate, so I prefer eating ice-cream alone. To me, eating hazelnut ice-cream on a warm day is like hearing Hope Sandoval’s voice; soothing, pleasurable and makes me believe that there are still good stuff in the world worth fighting for.

Thanks to Stainwasher for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Ebba G Agren

FIVE FAVOURITES: TWEN

Nashville-via-Boston duo Twen are gearing up to support Seattle rockers TacoCat tomorrow night at Hackney’s Moth Club (29th Aug), and we’re convinced their celestial, angular sounds will impress their London crowd. Comprised of Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones, Twen came to life over the space of two years as the duo toured the Boston DIY punk scene. Now, they’re getting ready to share their debut album Awestruck, which is set for release on 20th September via Frenchkiss.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jane to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to Twen’s track ‘Baptism’ at the end of this post.

1. Central Heating – Heatwave
This is a classic that has stayed with me since I was 14. Before streaming, I would check out CDs at the library and rip them into my iTunes library. I found Heatwave while trying to listen to every funk/disco band I could find (thinking I could somehow listen to the whole genre). This whole album has a playfulness that packs some serious joy. The title track is the star of the show; the vocals are so strangely melodic but carry major rhythmic weight. I just love the concept of making people groove out with a vocal melody rather than the beat. Also the most silly and beautiful intro and outro I have yet encountered. James Guthrie (of Pink Floyd The Wall fame) produced this album, which I don’t really care about but something to note.

2. Bibio – À tout à l’heure 
I put this song on a mixed CD I made for Ian when we were sophomores in college. We would make so many mixes for each other, a different type of language than our early awkward convos. I would meticulously decorate them with sharpies and would spend hours deciding how to make the perfect “flow”. This was a song I found out he loved too, and he even knew how to play them to my amazement. The beyond beautiful and intricate finger-picking is so delicate but this song is a BANGER. The beat and funky bass line pair perfect with the acoustic layers and nonsensical lyrics (“À tout à l’heure”, French for “see you later”). There is such emotional and hypnotic value to this song, without making logical sense of it. Bibio still and always will have the best production sounds on the block, mixing analog and digital to make more of a sound tapestry than just a mere song.

3. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Los Vegas
I found out about Cocteau Twins through my friend Matt, who DJ’d a college radio show called “Folk U” with me for two years. We had inherited the show and both slowly started to move out of the genre till Death Grips was playing. He played ‘Cherry-colored Funk’ and I nearly lost my damn mind, I had never heard anything so perfect. I read once that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice was ‘the voice of God’ and I don’t dispute it. Her ingenious melodies put me in a trance and make me feel like I’m understanding something outside words. Also, I have sweet memories with this album since it was one of the few albums I brought with me on an iPod on a trip to Iceland. I had gone by myself after college to camp 10 days in June when it’s daylight 22 hours a day (the only way I felt safe to camp by myself). I brought an old ass iPod that only had room for a few albums and this one of them. So, I listened the shit out of it while looking at the insane Icelandic landscape and I still love it.

4. Lijadu Sisters – Horizon Unlimited 
I had first heard the Lijadu sisters while working in a vegetarian restaurant in St. Louis, where I’m from. I had just moved back home for a quick quarter-life crisis. The owner and chef, Bay would sometimes make the playlists for the restaurant and loved blasting Lijadu Sisters. Being surrounded by an inspiring woman with a fountain of culinary creativity and listening to this album most days made a hard time a little less unbearable. The power of music. The beats and melodic riffs will make any day great and the two sisters feel exponentially BIG singing in unison. I really enjoy listening to music in different languages, it makes me notice the melodies better and the variety of vocal sounds possible that aren’t even used in English.

5. Mercyful Fate – Melissa 
I’m not super metal literate, but Mercyful Fate is THE metal band in my little world. On a tour probably a year ago (I only remember it was cold outside, they all start to blend together) a sound guy played this in the venue after the lights went on, probably to make everyone leave. A classic move. It made me want to STAY and to find out everything. Better known as King Diamond, this was his first band and Melissa is their first album. The vocal range is inhuman and the diversity of sounds that merely one person can make is an inspiration. Also I was raised Catholic, so hearing about covens and satanic rituals brings me a twisted joy.

Thanks to Jane for sharing their five favourites with us! Follow TWEN on Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Alexa Viscius

Five Favourites: The Paranoyds

Set to release their debut album next month, LA band The Paranoyds have been treating our ears to singles such as ‘Carnage Bargain’, ‘Hungry Sam’ and ‘Trade Our Sins’ throughout this year, cementing us as firm fans who cannot wait for the full length release. Delivering striking grunge-fuelled anthems filled with scathing lyrical observations and languid, insouciant vocals, we just can’t get enough of The Paranoyds’ raucous rock grit and sunny, punk-pop energy.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Lexi, Staz and Laila from The Paranoyds to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five songs or albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques, or simply take them back to a specific feeling or time. Check out their choices below, and make sure you watch the band’s latest video for ‘Carnage Bargain’ at the end of this post.

Built to Spill There’s Nothing Wrong with Love
We love Built to Spill! Staz and I went through a huge phase of non-stop listening to them in 2014. This album is so good, the songs are so friggin’ catchy. I think it’s impossible to listen to it and not belt out the lyrics. I love that indie, strat tone and how the guitars complement but also play off with each other. The tracks are misleading too, on the surface they seem like simple, straight-forward songs, but there are a lot of layers. Favourite song, ‘Car’
– Lexi 

X – WILD GIFT and UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN
Every track is a banger on both of these iconic albums. I would throw Los Angeles, X’s first born in a lineup of legends, but I want to give these other records some love. You will always remember the time and place you got into X. These records forever hold that time in your life captive like a spell. I put on ‘The Once Over Twice’ and there I am 13 years old in my friends exhausted bedroom wondering if I’ll ever make anything that’ll sound this good and last this long, coming to life as soon as the right circuits touch. Those perfect imperfect harmonies, Chuck Berry guitar licks making sense with vulgar lyrics. And those keys! Good god! Some things last a long time and my love for X may last forever!
– Staz

DEVO – Are We Not Men?
DEVO is a benchmark for The Paranoyds. When we’re writing songs, the thought running through our heads is “is this as weird and strange as a DEVO song?” Lexi and I first saw DEVO when we were 16 through a fence in Brooklyn and we were undoubtedly blown away. Staz often describes their live set as seeing lightning strike. I feel the same way listening to this album. It’s a rare piece of art that you can’t recreate, and you find something new in it with each listen.
– Laila 

The Strokes – Is This It?
We love this album like a guilty pleasure. It’s become a sort of tour tradition to blast the whole album in the van and have a group sing-a-long. These songs have the catchiest melodies and you can’t help but belt out the songs like you’re a teenager in your bedroom. What I love most is that all the tracks have the grit of classic rock and roll, but they also have the upbeat feel-good vibes of a disco song. It’s such a solid album that I always come back to. For me, it’s timeless and I’ll never get tired of it!
– Laila

Massive thanks to The Paranoyds for talking about their five favourite albums with us! 

Carnage Bargain, the upcoming debut album from The Paranoyds, is out 13th September via Suicide Squeeze. Watch the video for the title track here:

FIVE FAVOURITES: The Elephant Trees

Formed of Martha Phillips and Sam Hugh-Jones, The Elephant Trees have been gearing up to release their debut EP ‘Monachopsis’ for a while. Whilst their music is super catchy, it’s the message of solidarity behind it that makes them a worthy listen. On their upcoming “Depressed Kids Disco Party” tour, they’re promoting a safe space for women and LGBTQ+ people, and they’re encouraging anyone who feels stressed out by life’s demons to come down and shake it all off with them for an hour or so.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Martha to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to The Elephant Trees’ brand new track ‘Idiot’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Coldplay – Viva La Vida (Death and All His Friends) 
After Growing up in a household soaked in the best combination of Christian rock and Disco (?!), the first time I heard Coldplay, my ears pricked up. I’d heard classics like ‘Fix You’ and ‘The Scientist’ and been moved, and in hindsight this was probably the first time I’d made a connection between music and emotion. I asked for a Coldplay album for my 12th birthday, and discovered Viva La Vida for the first time. ’42’, ‘Yes’, ‘Death and All His Friends’ – all of these tracks stirred emotion in me, but new emotions. Most artists can easily convey happiness or sadness in their music, but this album introduced me to music that could make me feel hope, discomfort, curiosity, a full spectrum of emotions I was only just beginning to understand myself.

2. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
Later, after I’d started writing my own music, Sam and Tom (Aka guitar master and Drum King of The Elephant Trees) pointed out one of my songs sounded like ‘Car Radio’ by Twenty One Pilots. They forced me to listen to it in our first ever band practice in high school, I’d never heard anything like it. The way Tyler Joseph flips between genres, tempos and instruments, whilst spitting mind bending and intensely relatable lyrics blew my mind. This album is still one of the most influential on my writing.

3. Alt J – Relaxer
Rock – but also Jazz – but also Orchestral? but also pop and groove? Sign me up. The movement of these musical pieces made me feel the same way Twenty One Pilots’ lyrics did. I think the common theme for my favourite albums is the intensity of emotion I feel when listening to them, and that’s what I carry over into my own music.

4. Lianne La Havas – Blood
I heard ‘Green & Gold’ on one of Tom’s playlists and couldn’t help drumming along on the table to it – I had to listen to the full album. This woman has an incredibly poetic way of looking at life. Her lyrics are witty and make me feel empowered, her music has groove and technicality to it. This is a timeless album that I always come back to when I need reminding what true romantic storytelling song-writing looks sounds like.

5. Eliza Doolittle – A Real Romantic
I’m pretty sure everyone who are up in the noughties loved Eliza Doolittle. This album is the more mature and broody comeback. One thing I’ll take is the melodies, they’re gorgeous, full of passion, and the bass lines and hooks underneath are diiiiiirty. The contrast makes for sexy and empowering listening. I only started listening to it a couple of months ago and it’s been on repeat since.

Thanks to Martha for sharing her five favourite with us. Follow The Elephant Trees on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ilgen-Nur

If Hamburg-based “Slackerqueen” Ilgen-Nur had listened to the doubts instilled in her mind by the petty comments of her male teenage counterparts, she wouldn’t be preparing to release her debut album Power Nap on 30th August via her own label Power Nap Records. “If some stupid boys…hadn’t given me the feeling that I had nothing on my plate, I would have knocked something out four or five years ago at the age of 18/19” she recounts, “It took me so long to rebuild my self-confidence”.

But that’s exactly what she’s done, having released an EP titled No Emotions in 2017, playing slots at The Great Escape Festival, Eurosonic and Spot Festival, and even having her song ’17’ chosen for Netflix series How to Sell Drugs online (fast).

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Ilgen-Nur to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her brand new track ‘Nothing Surprises Me’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Kate Nash – Made of Bricks
This album is probably the reason why I’m writing music. Made of Bricks by Kate Nash was the first album I purchased that wasn’t something that was considered “mainstream” or some sort of music I got to know through TV or the radio. Actually, my sister recommended it to me after hearing the song ‘Foundations’ which I feel like to this day is an iconic indie song for an entire generation. I was immediately drawn to the story-telling songwriting and I remember listening to this album over and over again for years and years (starting when I was 11) and just getting obsessed over the lyrics, remembering every single lyric and getting lost in the characters Kate Nash was singing about. For example, ‘Mariella’ — I even have a reference to that song in my own song ‘Cool’! I remember practicing the songs on my piano over and over again and spending endless hours watching Kate Nash interviews. After all, she was my first proper role model and I am more than thankful for that. Through her, I discovered bands like Nirvana and Hole and Bikini Kill. Kate Nash taught me that I don’t have to be professional in playing an instrument to create something that I like, which I cherish to this day. And oh ‘Nicest Thing’ is still a classic to cry to!

2. Hole – Live Through This
When I first started getting into Hole, I read an interview with Courtney Love in which she said “I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming” — I believe that this statement was the ultimate reason why I asked my parents to get me an electric guitar for my 16th birthday. I started playing a bunch of Hole songs on guitar which was super fun and to this day, I love playing ‘Miss World’ on guitar. It’s so simple, yet so energetic. Ultimately, after watching all these videos of Courtney Love perform and re-watching all these dark and dreamy Hole music videos I felt like for the first time in my life I was allowed to scream and be angry at the world. It felt, and still feels liberating to this day. Obviously at the beginning of my Hole fandom I didn’t really get what most songs were about, yet later re-connected and understood the themes of sexual abuse, trauma and feeling angry and empty. It’s a powerful album to me, and it’s also probably one of my favorite artworks.

3. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
This one I have only discovered a year ago or so. Whilst hanging out at my bassists place ‘Between the Bars’ came on and I was drawn to it immediately. My guitarist and roommate had Either/Or on vinyl and I couldn’t stop listening to it, I put it on almost every morning for months, got completely sad and lost in all the songs. I was surprised that it literally took me this long to discover Elliott Smith, but I’m also thankful and excited about it. I’m very drawn to his guitar sound and the overlapping of vocals and the general lo-fi sound. I actually once got asked if the title of my first EP No Emotions is linked to Elliott Smith’s song ‘Waltz #2’ where he sings “she shows no emotion at all, stares into space like a dead china doll“ — but at the time I didn’t even know the song, only later listened to it randomly and that line came up and I was super perplexed and didn’t know what to say. I felt even more connected to his whole persona and music. ‘Angeles’ is by far one of my favorite songs generally and on this album.

4. Jeff Buckley – Grace
Every time someone plays ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ in the van whilst we are on tour, I believe at least one person in the car cries. I don’t know what else to say, other than this is an amazing album to cry to and be melancholic and dramatic. It’s also just perfect to me, and I feel like it’s extremely underrated among other musicians. I actually don’t think that a lot of my friends who play guitar music know or love this album, but I feel like it’s that one album everyone can find a song on that they connect with. Jeff Buckley’s voice is so beautiful, and I don’t even know how and what he plays on guitar because it’s definitely nothing simple but it sucks you in like crazy. His lyrics are so pure and magical, one of my favorites by him on this album is on the song ‘So Real’ – “Love, let me sleep tonight on your couch / and remember the smell of the fabric of your simple city dress”. And “We walked around ’til the moon got full / like a plate”. It’s by far one of my favorite albums, it’s quiet and it’s loud and dramatic – it’s everything. I’m definitely influenced by Buckley’s singing even though I would never compare my voice to his.

5. Soko – I thought I was an Alien
Soko is not only my fashion and makeup inspiration, but also taught me so many things. I love all of her songs, but this debut album is special to me. It’s extremely raw and Soko doesn’t shy away when it comes to being in touch which her negative emotions and being completely honest with her listeners. I love her stories and her calm voice, and I like the way she’s switching instruments when she’s playing live (even though I haven’t seen her live yet, unfortunately). She has this one song on this album called ‘I Just Want To Make It New With You”, which initially made me pick up my bass more when it came to song writing. Overall, Soko was my first queer indie icon and every one of my queer friends has cried at least once to the “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow’ video. I love Soko, and I’m so excited for her future records and videos.

Thanks to Ilgen-Nur for sharing her favourite with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Emma Frank

Toying with themes of love, lust, self-doubt, commitment and sadness; New York based songwriter Emma Frank is set to release her new album Come Back on 6th September. After spending time studying literature at McGill University in Montreal and performing vocals & brass with art-pop ensembles She’s Got a Habit and Malcolm Sailor’s Songs – she returned to Brooklyn to write more of her own music, having recently signed to Justin Time/Nettwerk Music Group.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is to ask them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Emma to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the video for her track ‘I Thought’ (directed by visual artist Ay Tsalithaba) at the end of this post.

 

1. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
I’ve always loved singers – singers where the music was happening but you could fully believe in every word the singer was saying. I grew up mainly on Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, and then a little bit of Simon and Garfunkel. Towards the end of high school, and for all of college, I found Lauryn Hill and I listened to this record on repeat. The tone of her voice, the way she uses it – Lauryn Hill’s voice was just utter perfection to me and I tried so hard to sound like her (I couldn’t really, without trying too hard.). And that album. The production on those songs. The songs themselves. My sixteen year old self that had just gotten broken up with for the first time really needed all of these songs.

2. Hanne Hukkelberg – Little Things
This album came to me during a very lonely period when I was either nineteen or twenty and just blew my mind. To me, it was such a complete sound universe, that cast a very dark Montreal winter in a magical new light. I grew up doing musical theater so I was accustomed to lyrics and music pairing up to tell a story and advance some action. I really loved how Hanne built her compositions so that the musical changes reflect the lyrical story in a really playful, immersive way and how she used found sounds and objects as instruments. Her song ‘Balloon’ is told from the perspective of someone holding onto a balloon and floating high above the world, and uses the squeak of a blown up balloon throughout. The narrator eventually let’s go of the balloon and as she falls, what had been a more contained song expands into a lush, dreamlike fall. Or ‘True Love’ which alternates between free, almost demented sounding improvisation, and very beautiful, romantic, gestures.

3. Bernice – Puff: In the Air Without a Shape
These guys are so good and this album is so fun. Robin Dann has an approach to songwriting and singing that I find really calming. It feels cerebral in the best ways, and also really embodied and relaxed. Each person in this band is so talented and does all sorts of amazing things, but this project is especially great. I really love how they all come from improvisatory backgrounds, and it’s clear in how they interact, and also in this very wide but specific sound palette. Also they’re all besties and really silly and funny and smart. They’ve created a unique and immersive sound world that’s really nice to hang out in.

4. Tawk Tomahawk – Hiatus Kaiyote
A friend recommended this album to me right before I went on cruise ships as a lounge singer for six months when I was 24. It was the absolute strangest experience, and this album really helped me have a joyous, grounded space to escape to. I listened to it for the first time in Hawaii – we were doing a cruise around Hawaii before we went to Alaska. I’m from Boston and I had never been to Hawaii before. I’m so used to all of these cool greys and blues, some green, but mostly colors are muted. Hawaii was so vibrant. I just remember listening to this record while running underneath these brilliant magenta flowers with the ocean to the right of me. That’s how this record sounds to me. Just so lush and alive.

5. Andy Shauf – The Party
Each song is such a good complete story. And then the whole album paints such an empathetic portrait of a few different, interconnected characters at this one party. Sonically, it honestly reminds me of The Beatles, these beautifully orchestrated, fun songs, but then with these aching, sometimes very uncomfortable lyrics. Also, Andy Shauf plays all the instruments on it, so I am also blown away by it on that level.

Thanks to Emma for sharing her favourites with us! Follow Emma Frank on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut