Five Favourites: Oh Baby

Having charmed our ears with the slick sounds of their last single ‘Cruel Intention’, London-Manchester duo Oh Baby are set to release their new album Hey Genius later this month.

Consisting of Jen Devereux and Rick Hornby, the duo have now shared another taster of the forthcoming album. ‘L.I.A.R‘ flows with a swirling, euphoric haze as Devereux’s rich, sultry vocals are accompanied by a majestic, ’80s-inspired glitchy drive. An utterly captivating, truly blissful, summer anthem leaving us eager to hear the album in full.

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. So, to mark the release of Hey Genius later this month, we caught up with Jen to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to new single ‘L.I.A.R’.

Philip Oakley & Giorgio Moroder – ‘Together In Electric Dreams’
As far back as I can remember I have had a major thing for this song and it still has the same effect on me now when listening to it that it did the first time I heard its muffled tone playing through my bedroom wall from the next door room. It made my world stop for a second. It’s melancholic but euphoric and romantic all at once, a combination I still find fascinating. Right from the first notes of the intro, I swear my heart beats a little faster wherever I am. The rising chord progression is totally addictive. The other worldly “together in electric dreams” lyric captivated me, whilst the melody underneath was lifting, the sentiment was lost lovers and missed nights together – this juxtaposition turned something on in me which has never turned off. The classic fade out where the vocal continues makes you feel like you’re being dragged away from the party early, doing its job brilliantly. For me it’s been an unfaltering musical constant, showing that perfection can exist in its own way, and this for me, is it. I guess this was my first introduction to Phil Oakey, Giorgio Moroder and electronic music in general, little did I know how important the tiny markers this song would leave on me would be. 

Cole Porter – ‘You’re The Top’
I got taken to musicals in London when I was young and I found the excitement of being inside a theatre pretty intoxicating. I suppose that, coupled with seeing the cliched ‘big city lights’ in sharp contrast to the endless grey North I mostly experienced growing up, made it all the more attractive. The smell of it, the sounds, the stage, the orchestra pit, the hum of a settling audience, the lights through darkness, I loved it. It was three hours of escapism and like a shot of liquid gold. Granted, the music written for musicals is pretty far removed from the stuff Rick and I are writing now but Cole Porter especially has a mesmerising way with words and how he marries them together – it’s a pure joy to listen to. I’m not ashamed to say I still know every word from this musical Anything Goes, but this particular song stands out. It’s totally relentless; it illustrated to me rhythm, rhyme and humour, also the art of the call and answer, how the opposites, the dark and light, are all so important in good music. He’s a clever sod. 

Madonna – ‘Borderline’
So this track evokes the smell of hot tarmac pavements and roadworks, petrol fumes, long hot summers when the back door seemed to be constantly open – carefree hanging around, freshly mown grass, back to back houses on endless streets, but most importantly being in love with a particular older girl on the street who just so happened to be obsessed with Madonna. ‘Borderline’ naturally became my soundtrack to all of the above. Her young American voice sounded so exotic, cutting into my life like a bolt of lightning. It woke me up to what I wanted on many levels; back then I had no way of knowing how I could get it, but knowing you actually do want something is a bloody good start. The sound of that bass line coupled with her high vocal riding over was so alluring and so sexy. I had no clue what it was all about but as a result of that feeling it gave me, I was and still remain totally hooked. 

Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill’  
A huge amount of what intrigues me and makes me feel something, also scares me. Strong women, whilst being totally inspiring, also scared me half to death, and Kate Bush was no exception. Watching her red lips and masses of dark hair and her untouchable womanly persona – the strangeness of this music video too – I found it wonderfully terrifying. I liken it to sitting through a horror film with your eyes closed and fingers in your ears, you don’t want to see or hear it but you can’t switch it off as there’s a part of the whole experience that is totally thrilling. This track is the one that is just too damn good. I’m not a massive fan of the over used label ‘genius’, but I think this track certainly warrants the word to be close by. As soon as I hear the first beat it’s slightly overwhelming to be honest. The drums, that lyric, those sounds she’s recorded using a bloody Fairlight. Oh bugger it, it’s genius. Now, she really is a clever sod. 

The Police – ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’
My older brother had a house party – I’m seven years younger, so this for me was brilliant. For a lot of his friends it was their first proper party they’d have been to with girls and boys and music and stolen alcohol, so that electric young teenage excitement was palpable. I felt and heard it all through the floorboards of my bedroom and I totally soaked it up. They played The Police Greatest Hits – loud. I didn’t sleep, I just listened – I can’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old. I asked some of the older kids about the music they’d been playing the next morning and that was my introduction to one of the greatest bands I know. This particular song is just wonderful. Only three people, making that sound, the way he sings over that fade out outro with yet another melody – “it’s a big enough umbrella but it’s always me that ends up getting wet” – what can I say. The way Copeland smacks the living daylights out of that snare, the weird piano, I mean come on. Let’s hope even a tiny amount of greatness from this possibly seeps into what we do as Oh Baby, ‘cos put this on and I. Will. Dance.

Massive thanks to Jen from Oh Baby for sharing her Five Favourites! Upcoming album Hey Genius is set for release on 23rd July via Burning Witches Records. Pre-order here and listen to new single ‘L.I.A.R’ below:

You can also catch Oh Baby live at The Lexington to celebrate their album release on 23rd July. Tickets here.

Photo Credit: Karen Hornby

Five Favourites: 45AcidBabies

Having first caught our attention with recent single ‘Mommy’s Favorite 1’, Dutch garage punks 45ACIDBABIES have now returned with a vibrant new single. A fizzing slice of alt-pop, ‘Only Class6 From Now On‘ is propelled by a colourful energy as scuzzed-out hooks provide the backdrop for the soaring sultry power of Sophia De Geus’ vocals. Fusing together a rippling psychedelic haze with buoyant bubblegum pop, it features ADAM on guest vocals, creating a wonderfully eccentric and instantly infectious sonic-comic cacophony.

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. So, to mark the release of ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ today, we caught up with Sophia from the band to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the brand new video for ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ at the end of the feature.

Lady GaGa – The Fame
I think Lady Gaga is our favourite pop queen of all. Both as a persona and as a songwriter. The Fame is an album filled with absolute bangers. Apart from the music, she also got me into fashion. Did you see her at the Met Gala 2019?! That was insane (the looks actually inspired the artwork of our new single). And there are so many hits on The Fame! ‘Just Dance’ itself was already iconic. I was 12 years old at the time and all my classmates were coming up with dance routines to perform on the weekly talent show our school was having. My favourite song of the album at the time was ‘Paper Gangsta’, but I’ll admit… I only said that because no one else would pick that song and I wanted to have a different opinion than my classmates. Now I’m pretty sure ‘Paparazzi’ is my favourite. Music video included. I love it. 

St. Vincent – St Vincent
I got into St. Vincent when we had a school assignment where we were dedicated to learn ‘Digital Witness’ and play it exactly how she meant it. I typed it in on YouTube and I was instantly obsessed with Annie Clarke. She is so beautiful and artistic. She has been a major inspiration for many Acidbabies songs. I love her songwriting, her way of showing femininity and her innovative way of playing the guitar. Mostly her interpretation of FUZZ. If it wasn’t for her I would have never bought my favourite instrument: The ZVEX Mastotron. 

The Kills – Midnight Boom
This is one of our oldest inspirations. When we didn’t care much about songwriting and pop music yet I got most of my inspiration from Alison Mosshart’s presence on stage. She is very bold and her movements are tight and thrilling. Also: this album sounds sooo SEXY! They are so good at combining rock and roll with electronic music. Such a big inspiration to us. I’m also a very big fan of Jaime Hince. His way of playing guitar reminds me of having a big growling wolf on the leash and just giving it the right amount of space. The Kills inspired me to acquire a pedal as well: DD3. One of the coolest delay pedals in my opinion. 

Soulwax – From Deewee
Soulwax are one of those acts that keeps amazing me time after time. I discovered them as a ’90s rock band and quickly fell in love with the quirky choices, raw drum computers, fuzzy beatbox bridges and interesting harmonies and was a fan right away. Then a few years later, I remember seeing a really good DJ act called 2ManyDJs on a Hungarian festival called Sziget. It was only after I got home I discovered that the two DJs were the same Dewaele brothers from Soulwax. They started to mix more and more electronics into their work which I loved – a personal favourite, the Nite Version of ‘Krack’. From Deewee is the summit of this journey towards the electronic. The synthesis fantasy of the Dewaele brothers seems endless. I especially like the super cool arpeggios venturing into adventurous chords that remind me of their ’90s rock days and their creative use of weird spring verbs on almost everything. What’s also super impressive to me is that they managed to keep the entire album interesting using almost the same BPM. Accompanied by three live drummers, their live show in Paradiso was one of the most impressive I’ve seen. The perfect combination between a club night and a live act.

Kero Kero Bonito – Intro Bonito
When we were kids Robin and I watched a lot of anime. Mostly Naruto. This made us big suckers for Japanese culture. I first came across Kero Kero Bonito while scrolling through the line-up of a festival I was attending. I heard ‘Sick Beat’ and I just loved it. It sounded so gamey and playful. Like there was an anime character rapping in a Casio keyboard paradise for game characters. I saw them play in a small venue and their way of performing was so different from anything else I’d ever seen. Just two DJ dudes with some cheap keyboards and Sarah singing with a stuffed animal in the form of a flamingo. How cool is that?

Massive thanks to Sophia from 45AcidBabies for sharing her Five Favourites! Watch the brand new video for ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ below:

Five Favourites: Siv Disa

Set to release her debut album this autumn, New York (currently Iceland-based) artist Siv Disa has been beguiling our ears for some time now, since first hearing 2019’s captivating ‘moths’.

Ahead of her upcoming album, she has now shared a brand new single. Produced by long-time collaborator Sam and The Sea, ‘Music In The Streets’ offers a dreamy, ethereal soundscape, oozing a majestic grace and glitchy spellbinding splendour. A beautifully hypnotic insight into how Siv Disa is continuing to hone and develop her sound.

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 Siv Disa to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the recent video for ‘Music In The Streets’ at the end of the feature.

Fiona Apple – When The Pawn
Oh where to start with Queen Fiona?! I found her music after seeing the ‘Criminal’ video on one of those MTV ’90s rewind’ shows when I was about thirteen, and got into her first album Tidal shortly thereafter. Every subsequent album of hers has meant the most to me at different points of my life, but When The Pawn remains my favourite. I’ve listened to it straight through literally hundreds of times, so I’m sure Fiona has affected my songwriting style, but I was never consciously pursuing that. Influential albums for me are more about the role they’ve had in my life than anything directly “artistic”. Her lyricism is tied so close to her core that the feelings she expresses become universal; you can’t listen without connecting when something is that earnest. Ages fourteen to sixteen was a difficult time for me as I’m sure it was for others, I had headphones in my ears all the time like a horse has blinders to keep from falling off course. Usually I was listening to Fiona. When The Pawn is a no-skips album, but some important tracks: ‘I Know’ (I can’t think of a song more beautiful), ‘Love Ridden’ (the first song I ever learned to cover on the piano; my crash course in figuring out chords ), and ‘Paper Bag’ (I mean, if you know you know).

Radiohead – Pablo Honey
I was driving somewhere with my dad, going through his CDs when I first put this on. I heard ‘Creep’ for the first time in his truck in 2002 and my eight year old brain was overcome. I remember thinking “wow, this is a good song, why don’t more people know about it?” at the time, which I think is funny. It’s not like I’ve heard it at every open mic I’ve been to since or anything. It got put into rotation as one of “Siv’s car CDs’ (along with ’90s classics from Natalie Merchant, Seal, and Jewel) when I was a kid. I’ve liked Radiohead ever since. My favourite album of theirs is probably OK Computer, but I think Pablo Honey has been more influential. It’s funny, even though I make fairly electronic music, my favourite albums by my favourite bands are often their most acoustic. Apart from the obvious, other favourite tracks include: ‘Thinking About You’ (excellent breakup track) and ‘Prove Yourself’ (fuel for my nascent angst).

The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go?
Another group I discovered through my parents’ CD collection! I have a tendency to find artists I like, then absorb their entire discography before moving on to listening to anything else; I know a lot about a handful of bands and absolutely nothing about anyone else. Thinking back on these albums, I realise the first band I did that with was The Supremes. My favourite Supremes track, ‘I Hear A Symphony’, isn’t on Where Did Our Love Go, but everything that is on this record is stellar. The songs weren’t too hard to sing along with as a kid, which is what first hooked me. Their dreamy ’60s glamour and vocal harmonies sealed the deal. The warmth of all their recording equipment, too, you can’t find on modern recordings. Listening now, I focus on that warmth. I like Motown in general, but the songs written by Holland-Dozier-Holland for The Supremes and The Four Tops are the best. Where Did Our Love Go is my go-to happy music. As you can probably tell from the rest of this list, I don’t really do a lot of happy music. But catch ‘Baby Love’ on? I’m in a good mood. Top Tracks: ‘When The Lovelight Starts To Shine’ (The backing band! The exuberance! Just try not to sing along) and ‘Baby Love’ (Diana Ross’ lead vocals are stellar, and a little softer than some of the other songs on this album. I like her voice the most when it’s softer and you get to hear a little more of its texture). 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
An ex got me into The National, actually (wishin’ you nothing but the best, C). I vaguely knew of them but hadn’t dived in until then; their band name made them blend into miscellaneous sad-boy rock in my head. I used to teach in-home piano lessons and had a lot of time driving from house to house, so I’d pick up CDs and audiobooks from the library – Trouble Will Find Me was one of those. I have bands for all my feelings and The National is great for a numb sulk. The songwriting is impeccable, Matt Behringer’s voice is equal parts miserable and pacifying and that’s really what I look for in singing. Getting into The National helped my songwriting by showing me how beautiful simple, well executed ideas could be. Being a classically trained pianist, I erroneously looked down on structurally simple music earlier on. I’ve tried to go the other direction though, which I’m hoping comes through on the upcoming album. Trouble Will Find Me and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers are tied as far as favoruite The National album goes, but I think I’ve listened to Trouble more overall. The lyrics are a little more cutting, they’re a little more polished. Top tracks: ‘This Is The Last Time’ (the coda gets me every time) and ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ (the entire thing is a bit stream of consciousness, it’s almost like a conversation you get sucked into).

Ex:re – Ex:re
A musician friend of mine, Brett Gleason, turned me on to Ex:re a couple years ago when this album first came out. It’s fantastically beautiful, heartbreaking, and intimate. For what it’s worth: the rest of the songs on this list I’ve known about for years and years, this one is the only new addition that makes the cut. Albums get tied to different times for me – re-listening to Ex:re makes me think of living in New York, crying about one thing while listening to Elena Tonra cry about something else. It’s more of a “stick around and face your problems” album than an “escape” album, which suits me better now than it might have a few years ago. Each of the songs is so well-crafted lyrically, and often touch upon difficult topics. ‘Romance’, for example, I believe is about assault and the aftermath of living with it in our society. It’s an unfortunately relatable topic for many, but not one often given that treatment in music which is frustrating. It’s refreshing to hear a song about love and betrayal from such a difficult perspective, it’s an achievement to be able to relay that. Favourite tracks: ‘The Dazzler’ (a languid, sharp-tongued dream), and the aforementioned ‘Romance’ (but only if you’re ready to be emotionally devastated). 

Massive thanks to Siv Disa for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch her brand new video for ‘Music In The Streets’ below:

Dreamhouse, the debut album from Siv Disa, is set for release this Autumn via Trapped Animal Records.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Francis Of Delirium

Creators of swirling, grunge-infused guitar tunes, Luxembourg-based duo Francis Of Delirium write songs about the ever-evolving nature of human emotion. Together, songwriter & guitarist Jana Bahrich and her collaborator Chris Hewett have released two EPs via Dalliance Records, with their most recent offering, Wading, continuing Jana’s narratives of personal resilience and enlightenment.

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 Jana to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired the band’s song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Francis Of Delirium’s latest single ‘I Think I’m Losing’ at the end of this post.

1. Arca – KiCk i
I found Arca through the newest Euphoria episode. There’s this one scene where they use Arca’s music and it’s this crazy gunshot type beat and it sounds so smoke and it is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I spent weeks trying to figure out where I could hear it in full but it turns out it’s not released. In the process though, I became obsessed with her album KiCk i. I’m trying to get better at electronic production and I like to use Kick i as my north star, less as a template to copy but more as the realization that anything is possible. She’s so creative in everything that she does which I find very inspiring, plus her songs just do something to my body that makes it feel like it’s exploding. I love you Arca.

2. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People
Hoping this will pass as an “album” even though it’s an EP! This is my favourite Sufjan project, easily. I feel like in this era Sufjan Stevens was making music for kids who were in the school brass band and so I felt very seen. I love the way he uses horns and trombones in All Delighted PeOple and the song-writing is still so strong, he also just gives you so much time to settle into each song which I love. The first Sufjan Stevens song I ever heard was ‘Casmir Pulaski Day’, my friends showed it to me. I went home that day and then learned it on the banjo. I spent a lot of my teens consuming solely his music. Then I realized his music was in Little Miss Sunshine which was my favourite movie then, so it felt like Sufjan was the man for me.

3. Half Waif – The Caretaker
Half Waif has such a wonderful ear for melody and uses vocal harmonies so wonderfully. Even on the first track, you’re almost immediately hit with those harmonies and they’re so beautiful and her delivery is heart-breaking and pulls at your chest. I couldn’t tell you how she’s influenced my song-writing but she must have because I’ve probably listened to The Caretaker everyday since it came out. Similarly to Arca, I often reference Nandi’s production choices, she has an incredible ability to make electronic sounds feel so tactile and warm and human, I just love everything she does. I first found Half Waif through her Tiny Desk which is also incredible, I say it a lot but I just love when artists give you their whole voice and body in a performance, it becomes so easy to connect with them through that.

4. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
I don’t know how much I can express how much I love this album. When it comes to rock music and I look at someone like Car Seat Headrest, it’s just a reminder that you can and should keep making music on your own and you should make whatever it is you want to make. Especially since Chris and I record our own music, I found it really helpful to look to other artists that were making music on their own and read articles from them to try and figure out how to do it on their own. Then lyrically and performance wise the album is perfect to me, I find a kind of peace whenever I listen to Twin Fantasy. There’s always something unexpected in a Car Seat Headrest song when you listen to it the first time and I really value that, I feel like you are walking along some dark long winding road whenever you jump into a Car Seat Headrest record.

5. Heart – Dreamboat Annie
A lot of my favourite songs and albums I’ve actively disliked before I love them. For some reason, I couldn’t get into ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when I was young and then I turned 14 and it was the greatest song I’d ever heard. I have a specific memory of this one rock station in Vancouver that would always play Heart all the time whenever my dad and I would drive to Taekwondo, and I thought it was some of the worst music I’d ever heard. After maybe 5 car rides, I was obsessed with Heart. If my dad and I go on a drive anywhere now, we definitely scream and sing along to ‘Crazy On You’, that song is so good, and they’re both so talented it’s crazy. They give everything to all the songs they play and that is something I try to do with every performance of our songs.

Thanks to Jana for sharing her favourites with us!

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Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen