Five Favourites: The Ophelias

Having just released their new album, Crocus, Ohio band The Ophelias continue to charm our ears with their stirring, shimmering creations. Showcasing a dreamy, folk-strewn allure, each track on the album flows with a beautifully captivating emotion, rippling with a heartfelt ethereal splendour.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate their new album, we caught up with The Ophelias to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that they love the most. Check out their choices below and scroll down to watch the unique new video for latest single, ‘The Twilight Zone’.

Joanna Newsom – The Milk Eyed Mender 
The first time I heard a Joanna Newsom song, I lay upside down with my head hanging off my bed, put it on repeat, and let my eyes well up and blood rush to my head. It was ‘Peach Plum Pear’ and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was such a clear moment of eye-opening world expansion that I can still feel the vivid, confusing excitement of learning that this music existed. I was sixteen, and immediately bought The Milk Eyed Mender in full. I stalked around my all-girls Catholic high school with Joanna Newsom in my ears and Docs on my feet, staring off into space in the library as she sang about dirigibles and fruit. I make music that sounds nothing like Joanna Newsom, partially because no one else can sound quite like her. But the poetry of her lyricism and fullness of her harp, alone and rich on this record, have absolutely influenced me and my songwriting. The harpsichord and chorus of voices singing “I am blue, I am blue and unwell” have never left my reference palette. The other Joanna Newsom records are fantastic – I especially love Have One On Me, in all its sprawling glory and drama. But The Milk Eyed Mender was the first album to change my life, and has influenced my taste and creative process greatly. 

Alex G – Trick
There’s nothing like a perfectly crafted, catchy song. Alex G has records worth of those, but Trick was my entry point. Freshman year of college is great for becoming friends with people, soaking up their music taste, and never seeing them again once your schedules change and welcome week ends. I’m grateful to the fellow freshman who put on ‘Mary’. The thing about Alex G songs is that they’re not revolutionary – guitar, bass, drums. But they’re so perfectly executed that they feel new. Most of Trick’s songs are short and to the point, so when he chooses to extend an outro or repeat a chorus it feels purposeful. I see that reflected in my songwriting – trying to be purposeful about extending things only if they need to be extended. The Ophelias as a whole have super varied music tastes, since we come from different backgrounds and approaches to music, but have all coalesced around Alex G. He makes songs that are sometimes accessible, sometimes experimental, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes silly. We can all find something we relate to or want to emulate in his work, since it covers so much ground. I graduated a couple years ago now, and Alex G has created songs beyond just guitar-bass-drums, but Trick holds a special place in my heart.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless 
The first iteration of The Ophelias formed in high school, when Andrea and I were seniors and Mic was a junior. Jo grew up in Madison, WI, and they joined later, so at this point they were pulling pranks and applying to film school. Andrea and Mic played in another band together with friends of mine, which is actually how I met them both. That band was playing at a warehouse show that I booked, and in the middle of their set they burst into a cover of ‘When You Sleep’. I watched Andrea play the iconic melody line through fuzzed out, pedal-laden violin and was completely obsessed. I loved the song already, but hearing it in that new context made me rethink how violin could be intertwined into the songs I was writing. My Bloody Valentine is another band who we sound nothing like, but we all definitely take influence from. The layers of sound, the soft octaved vocals, and the unexpected use of items like vacuum cleaners are all exciting, specific sounds that have affected the creative choices we make. Loveless is a whole world within an album, something that sweeps you up into it. 

that dog. – Totally Crushed Out!
I’m not sure how I found this album – maybe the public library, maybe somewhere on my parents’ shelf – but I’m very happy I did. It appeared in my life one day and became the closest parallel to the music I currently make. ‘She Doesn’t Know How’ is one of my favourite songs of all time, and the way that this record bobs and weaves through more punk-inspired tracks and softer, violin-and-harmony focused songs inspired me to not only expand my songwriting to harder, faster places, but to also feel content and settled in softer songs. The violin acts as a second (or third) guitar in a lot of songs as well, sometimes carrying the melody line or engaging with the vocals. Andrea’s parts are extremely dynamic, and it’s always fun to watch her figure out ways to slide a harmony into a guitar chord or mimic a vocal line with her own twist. I started listening to Totally Crushed Out before I had a band at all, and originally didn’t think to name it as an influence. But as the songs evolved, I realised how much I wanted to emulate that dog., and how I had been moving towards that for a long time. 

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do 
I struggled with which Fiona Apple album to include on this list. It came down to this one or Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which even though it only came out in 2020 left me reeling and full of new ideas for ways to stretch and evolve. But as I was re-listening to both that record and The Idler Wheel, I realised just how much of an impact The Idler Wheel has had on my creative process and decisions. Jo and I were obsessed with the ‘Hot Knife’ music video in college, watching it over and over again to see her avoid eye contact with the camera. Fiona Apple is a master of tension, building it up both in her voice and the piano as they caterwaul and thunder. Her records feel organic, like you can hear moving parts in the rooms where she recorded. Her lyrics are twisty and literate – she fits more into a single stanza than most say in a whole song. I try my hand at that every now and again, seeing what can fit in the container I’ve created for myself. But the other lyrical side that makes Fiona Apple so particularly gut-wrenching is when she forgoes the poetry and says it straight out, like “All that loving must have been lackin’ something / If I got bored trying to figure you out.”

Massive thanks to The Ophelias for sharing their ‘Five Favourites’ with us! Watch the new video for ‘The Twilight Zone’ here:

Crocus, the new album from The Ophelias, is out now via Joyful Noise Recordings. Buy it here.

Photo Credit:  Cam Whaley

Five Favourites: Beth Cassidy (Sea Fever)

Set to release their debut album next month, Manchester band Sea Fever is a collective of musicians who are no strangers to the music scene. Fronted by Beth Cassidy (Section 25) and Ivan Gronow (Johnny Marr, Haven), the band also consists of New Order’s Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham, as well as Elliot Barlow. Talking about the formation of their latest project, the band explain: “We’d wanted to work with each other for ages, so when we finally sat down in the studio, the band just seemed to come together naturally. It felt like we were really free to explore the kinds of music that have always inspired us, we dug right through the record crates of our minds to shape the sound of Sea Fever.

Ahead of the release their debut album, Sea Fever have recently shared a stirring new single, ‘Under Duress‘. Flowing with a sweeping otherworldly allure, it showcases the collective’s ability to create captivating multi-layered soundscapes; feeling both futuristic and nostalgic in its cinematic sonic majesty.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the upcoming album, we caught up with Beth from the band to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that she loves the most. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to the spellbinding ‘Under Duress’.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
This band were the soundtrack to my college years. I went to see them live at Manchester Academy 3 when they’d just released their debut EP, and they’ve been a staple of my record collection ever since. I remember seeing Karen O on stage and she wore a piece of neon netted fabric over her face the entire gig – like a veil. She seemed mental. Fever To Tell has so much energy and chaos mixed with this sweetness that comes through with the softer vocals. This band are a true force of nature.

Booka Shade – 2006 Pete Tong Essential Mix Session
I stumbled across this session after getting hooked on Booka Shade’s melancholic ‘In White Rooms’ track, and after that I was searching through their whole back catalogue. Their sound is percussive, dark, but also surreal and really kind of imaginative, and from there I discovered minimal techno. I don’t really listen to them anymore, but they paved the way for my love of dance music. I moved out to Berlin soon after, on some kind of pilgrimage to German techno! In this particular essential mix, they DJ for half and play live for the other half, so you can really hear how their own influences play out in their music, it’s so interesting. And the tracks they mix, man! Laurie Anderson, Aphex Twin, Yello… It’s sublime.

Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
I played this record on repeat for months, listening through headphones while I was moving around Manchester on public transport. I was juggling a lot in my life at that time and felt a bit mixed up with what I was doing – studying for an MA, working in a job I hated, my Dad had died a few months earlier – and this album definitely helped me escape into my own head. The lyrics are so easy and playful, colloquial but profound at the same time, and he describes those really small moments in life that we all experience; the little things that make us human, and he puts them on a pedestal. It’s very clever.

Bjork – Post
‘Hyperballad’ was the first cassette tape I ever bought. I was nine so it must have come on recommendation from my older brother, and it probably went over my head at the time but I loved the electronic sounds. Bjork’s vocal melodies and the way she moves through the music at her own pace, it feels so confident, like she’s carving out a space for the vocals. I come back to Bjork a lot, she just seems to empower me and make my own work more purposeful.

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Every track on this album is an absolute banger, and when you listen from start to finish it takes you on a really expansive trip through different moods. The layering of different beats and loops is so intricate, and James Murphy’s vocals drive the whole sound. I just hang off his every word. Even though they are hugely popular, I still feel like LCD Soundsystem are a cult band, in that, you’ve either never heard of them, or you fucking love them! There’s no in-between!

Massive thanks to Beth for sharing her five favourites with us!

Folding Lines, the debut album from Sea Fever, is set for release on 22nd October (CD/DL) and 29th October (vinyl). Pre-order here. And you can catch Sea Fever live at Rough Trade East in store to celebrate on 29th October – tickets here.

Photo Credit: Anthony Harrison

STILL SPINNING: Gazelle Twin – ‘The Entire City’

Our Still Spinning feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic – whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons – and celebrates our enduring love for them. Get In Her Ears Co-Founder & Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why electronic artist Gazelle Twin’s debut album, The Entire City, released in July 2011, is still one of her most influential listens to date.

Named after a painting by German surrealist artist Max Ernst, Gazelle Twin’s debut album The Entire City was released via her own imprint Anti-Ghost Moon Ray on 11th July 2011. Independently composed, recorded and produced, her ambiguous lyrics and altruistic sounds invited her listeners into a world that offered both shimmering intrigue and heavy shadow in equal measure.

It was my older brother Joe who originally introduced me to Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz in 2014, citing her second album Unflesh as one of the best things he’d ever heard. I used to lay in the dark, headphones on, listening to it and feeling an odd sense of calm, as waves of nervous energy rippled through me. That record changed my idea of what electronic music could sound like and I was captivated by the persona printed on the album’s cover. Blue hoodie, long brown hair, a partially covered face and an open mouth revealing a snarling pair of teeth. Menacing yet enticing, terrifying yet familiar. Gazelle Twin was an enigma – communicating with listeners through harrowing imagery and nerve-shredding synths.

Back then, I had no idea she had released her debut album three years earlier, or that it would sound so different. Having encountered Unflesh first, listening to The Entire City felt like an ambient fairy-tale in comparison. But, as with all of her obscure creations, what Gazelle Twin excels at is contrasting the darkness with the light, so even if that darkness sometimes feels all consuming – like it often does on Unflesh and on her stunning third record Pastoral – the sublime still manages to shine through too. The Entire City is a sonic landscape littered with dense concrete, intimidating obelisks and unknown relics, but it’s also teeming with life.

Filled with twitchy drum samples, cinematic synths and her uniquely operatic vocals, The Entire City received flattering comparisons to Fever Ray when it was originally released, but I think Bernholz’s sound is often grittier and more detached. There’s an underlying feeling of voyeurism as you wander through her musical landscapes, something I feel she captures perfectly on the eponymous opening track, with her extended high pitch vocals guiding the way, like a thrilling race through deserted streets. It bleeds into the breathy stillness of ‘Concrete Mother’ and the hypnotic ‘Men Like Gods’, two of my favourite tracks on the record.

It feels odd to pick apart and review The Entire City on a track-by-track basis, because it has such a cohesive sound. Each time I listen I feel like I’m being shrouded in Bernholz’s graceful, unsettling sonic paraphernalia; her cryptic lyrics and eerie electronics lulling me into a false sense of security. The subtle power of her voice on ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ and ‘Changelings’ is intoxicating, whilst on ‘Obelisk’ – another favourite of mine – her blend of dense beats and crystalline synths evolves into an exquisite electronic hymn. Punctuated by briefer tracks like ‘Far From Home’, ‘Bell Tower’ and ‘Fight-or-Flight’ – on which she flexes her operatic voice sensationally – she ensnares the senses and gently pushes listeners into unchartered territories across the album. In retrospect, ‘View Of A Mountain’ feels like a hint at what was to come, it’s the kind of instrumental that would sit comfortably on Unflesh.

Steeped in shadow and mystery, The Entire City is a fascinating introduction to a truly progressive artist who has evolved into a new species of performer since 2011. Not known for revisiting her previous albums or personas, Gazelle Twin’s sights remain fixed on her future projects and I can’t wait to immerse myself in more of her visceral sounds.

 

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Album Artwork: Suzanne Moxhay

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

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