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: 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: Sarah Walk

Celebrating both the joys and the struggles of being a queer woman, LA songwriter Sarah Walk is preparing to release her second album, Another Me, on 28th August via One Little Independent Records. “The songs on my first album were a means to survive the immediate, and my songs on this album have been a journey in learning how to take up space and thrive in the long term”, Walk explains. It sounds like a learning curve both she and her listeners will benefit from, as she tackles everything from patriarchal entitlement to letting go of damaging tropes about being a queer woman.

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 Sarah to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Sarah’s latest single ‘nobody knows’ at the end of this post.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus – Phoenix 
I just think this is a brilliantly executed record, start to finish. I still try to wrap my head around the arrangement of this album. Each part fits together like this weaving patchwork of ideas that lock into each other like a puzzle. When I try to isolate the vocal or an instrumental part it feels like such a scattered and disjointed idea, but as a whole it’s completely full. I often wonder how they recorded this because it’s so hard for me to hear a backbone that was built around.

2. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
What a powerful comeback album from Fiona. I grew up listening to her and felt so empowered hearing a woman sing and play the piano that wasn’t afraid to be angry. This album totally goes there, and I’m so happy it does. There’s anger and regret, and through that, this incredible reclamation of self. She’s one of the best there is and has paved the way for so many women in the music industry, whether we all know it or not.

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It wouldn’t be a favorites list without a Radiohead album. This band totally expanded my ears to what music could be, and were my unwavering companion during some of the toughest and loneliest years of my adolescence. I remember waking up early before school the day this album came out and downloading it (this was the “pay what you want” record pre-spotify which was brilliant) and I sat in my car in the high school parking lot that gloomy October morning and was crying by the time ‘Faust Arp’ came around. I was late for school that day, and I’m glad I was.sarah

4. Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Love this band so much. They combine certain sonic elements of Radiohead that I love – that ethereal soundscape of guitars that don’t sound like guitars – with heavy grooves and pop sensibility. This album is so good, and they’re incredible live as well.

5. Madison Cunningham – Who Are You Now?
A more up and coming LA artist, Madison is an incredible force of talent. The first time I saw her play live I was completely floored. I’m not a religious person, but after first seeing her play I went home and completely broke down because it felt like such a spiritual experience. She absolutely destroys the guitar and her voice and songwriting are other worldly. Definitely give this one a listen and check out some live videos online.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her track ‘nobody knows’ below.

Follow Sarah Walk on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Hannah Georgas

“The album is about healing, self reflection and getting up again at the end of the day,” explains Toronto-based songwriter Hannah Georgas about her upcoming record, All That Emotion. Set for release on 4th September via Brassland & Arts & Crafts, it’s a full length collaboration between Georgas and The National’s Aaron Dessner, and one that shows her resilience as both a songwriter and as a determined woman navigating the world around her. 

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 Georgas to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her latest single ‘Dreams’ at the end of this post.

 

1. The Cranberries – No Need To Argue
The Cranberries are one of my all time favourite bands and had a big effect on me throughout my adolescence. I was so drawn to Dolores’ melodies and songwriting. I loved that their music was catchy and also had a real depth to the writing. I would listen to this album over and over and try to harmonize with her vocals. I saw them live in the late 90’s and it was one of the most memorable live shows I’ve ever seen.

2. Sade – Lover’s Rock
I like putting this album on to de-stress and relax. Her voice is so incredibly soothing to listen to. I also love the slow paced hip hop loops mixed with acoustic guitar and layered harmonies throughout the album. The track ‘Every Word’ is a real highlight for me. This song helped me get through the time I first got my heart broken. I would cry and play it on repeat.

3. Broadcast – Tender Buttons
This album is something I discovered a few years back and I’m so drawn to the production of it. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about it earlier. I love the drum loops, synth sounds and the simplicity to it all. My favourite track to listen to off the album is a song called ‘Corporeal’.

4. Fiona Apple – Tidal
This album gave me confidence and a sense of hope growing up. There’s so much strength and courage behind Fiona’s writing that I really admire. Playing music was treated like a hobby in my household and the moment I mentioned to my family I wanted to take music more seriously it was a hard thing for my parents to digest. I listened to this album a lot along with many other female fronted projects. I think they subconsciously gave me that courage to continue writing and making music. ‘Criminal’, ‘Sleep To Dream’ and ‘Never is a Promise’ are a few of the many highlights off the album.

5. The Blow – Paper Television
I discovered The Blow when I moved away from home and was living on the West Coast of Canada. I love how lo-fi, dancey and catchy the songs are. The album gives me energy and inspiration. ‘True Affection’ is such an awesome song and makes me miss Vancouver a lot.

Thanks to Hannah for sharing her favourites with us. Listen to her single ‘Dreams’ below.
Pre-order your copy of All That Emotion here.