FIVE FAVOURITES: Sarah P.

Sarah P. (former front-woman of Keep Shelly In Athens) has shared her new EP Maenads with the world, and it’s a record that openly explores the theme of female power in all its magic, strength and “imperfect perfection”. The record is a triumphant return for the artist, who has been busy championing public conversations about mental health through the creation of her monthly zine EraseRestart, which aims to wipe out the stigma that surrounds it. 

We caught up with Sarah P. to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting technique. Check out her responses below…

1. Sad Lovers & Giants – Les Années Vertes
This record is everything to me. Pure 80s sound, conscious-but-mysterious lyrics, eerie vocals. I’ve always loved the “hopeless romantic” vibe of the post punk-scene. Les Années Vertes is a classic, timeless piece of art. Even if the sound is now considered vintage, the lyric themes are easy to connect with. This album is a manifesto for the youth – I believe every generation can relate to it. I put on this record when I need a push in my life. It makes me feel powerful and confident. It takes me back to being a suburban teen with dirty converse shoes trying to grasp from the complexities of coming of age. And whenever I’m playing it, I think of this awkward child (that grew up to be an even more awkward adult), her tough years and how she overcame the hardships.

2. Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth
I guess I’m naturally attracted to haunting melodies, thought-provoking lyrics and quirky vocals. This is my favourite Nine Inch Nails album and one of my top records of all time. I remember listening to With Teeth for the first time and being genuinely impressed by the arrangements and how every sound is right where it belongs (pun intended). Also, it’s safe to say that NIN are the most amazing band I’ve seen performing live. The production of everything they do is so detailed-oriented and perfect, and always leaves me in their awe. ‘Right Where It Belongs’ is perhaps my most favourite song in the world. It’s so raw, authentic and honest – a truly inspiring composition. Most of the things I strive to be, I’ve learned courtesy of NIN and With Teeth.

3. Tim Buckley – Goodbye And Hello
When I was around 6 years old, my dad made me a mixtape and included ‘Phantasmagoria in Two’ on it. Boy, didn’t I fall in love? I asked him “who’s Tim Buckley?”, he showed me a picture and I was ready and committed to get married to him. Dad told me that Tim Buckley had died, but that didn’t matter, because he was set out to be my forever crush. An angel for me – a tortured soul, regardless. Goodbye And Hello is too pretty to be man-made. Vulnerability was Buckley’s strength. ‘Pleasant Street’ is a truly moving song about addiction, but there are far too many gems in this album. Buckley wrote from his heart – he never took a vocal lesson or cared for chords and song structures. To me, he’s one of the greatest artists to have ever walked on earth.

4. Anne Clark – Joined Up Writing/The Sitting Room
POETRY! Anne Clark, the ultimate siren – she’s so intense. ‘Our Darkness’ is obviously her most popular song to date, however the whole record is pure beauty. She’s one of the most fascinating artists, I’ve ever come across. I love how committed she’s always been to her artistry. I point that out knowing how tough the industry is with women who are not making what they like to call “mainstream music”. But Anne Clark is a true badass and never shied away from speaking truths on her songs. Beautiful arrangements, leaving room for majestic spoken words that make you shiver.

5. Dionysis Savvopoulos – Vromiko Psomi
‘Zeimpekiko’ is one of the songs that makes me very emotional. My parents played it every time they had their friends over – it brings back memories of their parties at home, the smell of cigarettes and whiskey, the breeze coming in from the open window, the muffled sound of philosophical conversations, music and the sounds of cars passing by. I’ve reconnected with this record while in Berlin – away from home. This record was released two years before the fall of Greece’s military junta. Savvopoulos was jailed twice during that time – the song ‘Dimosthenous Lexis’ is about him in jail thinking how life would be if he got out of jail (apparently, not too bright, because democracy seemed like a dream at the time). In times where fascism slips through even the tightest layers of our societies, it’s important to look back and learn from our recent history. Democracy shouldn’t be taken for granted and neither should artistry and talent that’s bold and brave to address topics
that our societies may not be ready to hear about.

Follow Sarah P. on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: George Geranios

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Tallies

Toronto-based four piece Tallies have announced their self-titled debut album will be released on January 11th 2019 via Fear Of Missing Out Records. The band have shared the lead single from the record ‘Beat the Heart’ online – and it’s a dreamy slice of catchy indie-pop.

We caught up with band members Sarah & Dylan to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced their songwriting technique. Check out their responses below…

1. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
I heard The Smith’s a few years ago, for the first time at this cafe that I used to work at. It was a sound that was very new to me, and I can only describe it as “the sound that I was looking for”. When I heard Jonny Marr’s guitar playing, I knew that was the sound I wanted to play. There is a 60’s influence in their songwriting which I really appreciate and love the humourous lyrics. The Queen is Dead has a great contrast between harsh lyrics & beautiful melodies. The sample at the beginning of the album sets this odd mood followed by a eerie whistle before the floor tom starts the rhythm. The build up gets me really pumped up. (Dylan)

2. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas 
When listening to Cocteau Twins, they make you feel like you’re spinning in a room full of dancing light and feeling light-shadows on your skin, without getting dizzy. They have mastered a sound of constant motion that stands still. The production on this record has incredible depth, while having complete focus. It’s surprising how little synths are used on this record that’s so full of dreamy textures. The reverb delays, and chorus used on the guitars makes them sound like completely different instruments and is so intriguing. We first heard Heaven or Las Vegas from friends of ours a couple years ago and haven’t stopped playing it since. (Sarah & Dylan)

3. Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain 
When I came across this album, it sounded so familiar, like it was already a great influence on me. Realizing after talking to my dad, that he used to play this album around the house all the time when I was growing up. That explains the familiarity. He gave me his vinyl form the 80’s to add to my collection which I listen to all the time. I play “Oblivious” at every party I go to. There is no one else that can pull off holding one note for that long in a guitar solo, making for the best air-guitar performance. The instrumentation on this record has a Latin vibe that I really like and is mainly acoustic-guitar driven. (Dylan)

4. The Sundays – Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
The sounds created on this album are just heavenly and so easy to listen to. The melodies are unique and graceful. I first heard The Sundays while watching the 90’s flick, “Fear” with young Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon. I fell in-love with the crystal sounding jangly guitars and Harriet Wheeler’s voice instantly. The songwriting reminds me of the soft essence and the fragilty of a butterfly. Wheeler’s heartfelt sharing of personal feelings makes me feel like she’s in the room reading from her diary. Reminding us that we’re not alone in sinking emotions. (Sarah)

5. Air – Moon Safari 
I have this album on repeat constantly. It’s the perfect background music to any setting. Each song has so much depth and the lyrics are always stunning. I am quite the late-bloomer on this band. I just heard them for the first time this year after Stephen (bass) bought a bundle of thrift store CD’s to play in our new van. I’ll never forget the first time listening, how each song shocked me, “Woah, there’s so many instruments on this track.” “How did they do that?” I knew that this record was going to be inspiring just 30 seconds in. I want to make music like Air, music that makes your emotions tingle and spiral in so many directions, yet sounding so chill and simple at the same time. (Sarah)

Follow Tallies on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Alex Gray

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Five Favourites: Arc Iris

With their new album Icon of Ego released this month via Ba Da Bing Records, Providence trio Arc Iris, fronted by Jocie Adams (formerly of The Low Anthem) have been busy sharing their brand new sounds far and wide. We caught up with Jocie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – Five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting technique. Check out her responses below…

1. John Martyn – Bless the Weather
This record is the Five Leaves Left that never found it’s spotlight in America. The simple musicality on this record is wholly inspiring. The interplay between the bass and guitar is moving. John Martyn’s singing is incredibly human and musical.

Bless the Weather is a perfect record minus one. For some reason the British folk artists had a habit of ruining their perfect records with one electric blues tune. John Martyn did it (with Sugar Lump), Fairport Convention did it, Sandy Denny did it….

2. Yes – Close to the Edge 
A classic that we have shared as a band since day one. Zach and Ray had to learn this record as teenagers when they toured with Jon Anderson, but Zach was a die hard Yes fan well before that moment came about. In addition, Rick Wakeman was Zach’s number one keyboard influence as a kid. It’s hard to talk about this record. You should go listen to it, if you haven’t already. You will either love it, or hate it. It might take 2 or 3 tries to make sense.

3. Joni Mitchell – Blue
This year we re-imagined and released all of Joni Mitchell’s Blue under the name Foggy Lullaby. Learning and re-imagining these songs has had a big influence on the growth of our band. Joni Mitchell’s songwriting taught me a lot about the line between loose and tight when it comes to lyric writing and rhythm in singing. She is a melodic queen. Lastly, Joni’s attitude towards creating art as art rather than art as a part of trending pop culture is inspiring. Of course, she wouldn’t like me saying that because I don’t think she takes well to people trying to summarize her opinions.

4. DJ Shadow – Endtroducing….
Our immediate love for the sonic landscape on this record is paramount to the incorporation of samples into our set. Zach uses samples from my clarinet or his or my voice doing whacky things for both live purposes and the writing process. We have also started doubling drums with sampled drums on a lot of tunes.

5. Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
Stevie is another wildly influential artist for all of us. Strangely, his biggest influence on our band is likely his left hand bass playing. Zach learns a lot from his melodic bass choices, groove and tones. This record is undeniably a classic on so many levels. The fluidity and ease that Stevie carries while playing keys and singing and even playing the drums is inspiring for us all as musicians. The songwriting is beautiful. The arrangements are simple and effective. It’s just great.

Thanks to Jocie for sharing her favourites! Follow Arc Iris on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut