Five Favourites: Panic Pocket

Having stolen our hearts playing live for us at The Five Bells last year, London duo Sophie Peacock and Natalie Healey – aka Panic Pocket – create luscious slices of shimmering indie-pop with a twinkling charm and impeccable tongue-in-cheek wit.

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

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (Or, the Last Remains of the Dodo)
Nat: I picked up this record in an HMV bargain bin in Crawley when I was about fifteen, because I thought the cover looked cool, and I’ve been obsessed with Aimee Mann ever since. Bachelor No.2 was the perfect soundtrack to typical suburban teenage angst and it makes me nostalgic for my boombox every time I listen to it. Mann’s sad, darkly funny lyrics and deadpan vocals are a big influence for us. She also uses a lot of jazzy chords in her songs, which I steal because they sound cool and I still suck at barre chords!

Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things
Nat: I discovered Rilo Kiley when I was going through my Bright Eyes phase way too late in life, in about 2010. I was working for a medical research company in the middle of nowhere at the time. I hated my job and I was lonely and pretty sad. This bleak as fuck but triumphant album really helped me through the multiple work disasters, toxic relationships and emotional turmoil of that period. Jenny Lewis is an incredible songwriter and conjures such powerful imagery in her music. Just try and listen to ‘A Better Son, Daughter’ without feeling something. And then, check out Lewis’ new record On the Line too – it’s a masterpiece.

Dar Williams – Mortal City
Sophie: Before I hit peak Tori Amos fan, I had Dar Williams. After hearing her on a Lilith Fair compilation sing impassionately and wrly about therapy sessions, my angsty teenage heart was desperate to track her down. I listened to 30 second extracts of her songs on Amazon (the only access I had to the rest of her work in a pre-Youtube world), and then finally took the plunge and ordered Mortal City. Her confessional, folk-story, sometimes-sea-shanty songwriting had me rapt. ‘The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis Of A Co-Ed’ and the title track ‘Mortal City’ showed that sometimes less is more, and putting some witty sass in your songs can go a long way – it’s now the Panic Pocket standard.

PJ Harvey – Dry
Sophie: I saw Dry in my local library at age 15 and took it home on a whim, and quickly became obsessed. It marked several milestones in my puny white-girl teenage rebellion: my mum finally asked “what the hell are you listening to?”, and I realised that feminist rage and unrequited lust could go musically hand in hand to cathartic results. I felt like a mysterious vengeful witch was singing everything I wished I could have heard up until that first playthrough, and I still return to it on the reg.

Best Coast – ‘Crazy For You’
Nat: When we started Panic Pocket, we probably cited lo-fi surf rock duo Best Coast as our biggest influence up-beat, bratty, lo-fi songs about darker, more complex situations. Sophie introduced me to this album when it first came out, and we were living hundreds of miles from each other. Whenever I hear it, it makes me think of how grateful I am that we get to hang out with each other every day right now. And just like Bethany Cosentino sings on ‘Goodbye’, we too wish our cat could talk. Nine years on, it’s still the perfect soundtrack to your summer.

Massive thanks to Panic Pocket for sharing their Five Favourites! Check out their new video for ‘Pizza In My Pants’ below:

Never Gonna Happen, the new EP from Panic Pocket is out 12th April via Reckless Yes. Catch Panic Pocket live at the following dates:

10th April – The Victoria (EP Launch)
10th May – The Finsbury (for Get In Her Ears w/ Crumb!)

FIVE FAVOURITES: Lia Braswell (A Place To Bury Strangers)

Brooklyn’s A Place To Bury Strangers have been launching sonic assaults on the eardrums of their cult following for over a decade. Driving the trio’s sound is drummer Lia Braswell; who plays with a raw, punishing, and unpredictable style that’s best appreciated live.

If you’ve never experienced APTBS’s live show, you now have access to the next best thing: London’s Fuzz Club recorded a live session with the band last year and have released the recording exclusively on vinyl (available for purchase here).

We wanted to know more about what drives Lia to be the expert musician that she is, so we asked her to share her “Five Favourite” albums with us. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the Fuzz Club recording of ‘Punk Back’ at the end of this post too!

1. The Slits – Cut
When I first listened to this album, it changed my perspective of how punk music could sound. Primal, evocative, sensual but also very feminine. Something like an album that either came out of an imaginative shower or a communal dance around a bonfire, both introspective yet objective and literate. Initially, it was the album that I was searching for all throughout my angsty and awkward junior high school years, but didn’t find until after I was out of school. Then again, it might have inspired me to drop out before graduating!

2. Scout Niblett – The Calcination of Scout Niblett 
Simple, jagged, heavy. This album CUTS. It’s the inner snarky child who takes back their power and runs with it as an awakened grown up. After my roommate and I discovered that we have a mutual love for Scout, we busted out this record and started interpretive dancing to all the motions of fuzzed out guitar bends and primal drum breakdowns. This album brings so much raw emotion into an empowering force of self-affirming vigilance. Hell YES.

3. Broadcast – Future Crayon
Enchanting, subjective, expansive. What a beautiful masterpiece of subtle psychedelia mixed with dreamscapes that continue to resonate in the mind long after listening to the record. Such looseness in the drums, atmospheric bliss all around, and one of the most controlled and calming voices that graced this planet for far too short a life. It dials my heartbeat into a harmonious wake of contentment.

4. Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr. – We Insist! Freedom Now Suite 
This is the album that makes jazz what it means to me. Historical, melodic, passionate, and rhythmic. What a powerful album. It is rich with so much history and depth. No matter how many times you listen, you still can’t break into it. You can’t break it down. It is still alive. It is still so real and raw nearly sixty years after it was recorded. This is the kind of album that should be explored in educational institutions and should remain to be one of the most prolific records ever to have been recorded.

5. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
A bit out of left field here, but this album was pretty essential to my life when it first came out. The melodies, the harmonies, the rhythm of the album catches me in a way that not many other albums have. It evokes a melancholy wrapped up in a waltz of dreamscapes along a tired river. I will most likely listen to this album when I am sixty years old and suddenly memories that were long forgotten will suddenly appear as if they were of the yesterdays.

Huge thanks to Lia for sharing her favourites. We’ve got some listening to catch up on! Follow A Place To Bury Strangers on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Mint Field

A soothing tonic for minds that are scarred from the stresses of modern life; Tijuana-based psych trio Mint Field have shared their new EP Mientras Esperas via Innovative Leisure. Translated roughly as “While Waiting”, their new release focuses on themes of connection with the modern world, and how our own well-being is affected by it.

Following the success of their 2018 debut Pasar de la Luces, and now with bass player Sebastian Neyra on board; Amor Amezcua and Estrella del Sol Sánchez continue to make thought provoking music with a shoegazey, dream-pop feel. We asked the band to share their “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out their choices below, and make sure you listen to Mientras Esperas at the end of this post.

1. Beak – <<
We have no memory of coming across this album or how we discovered it, it’s as if it magically appeared in our files. We heard this album together so much last year while we were touring and we got to see Beak for the first time in Desert Daze, such an epic show. They’re definitely one of our biggest influences.

2. Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Tall Grass
We first heard Kikagaku Moyo when we were recording our debut album, Pasar de las Luces, in Detroit. Chris Koltay, our producer, has a big wall and drawers foiled with vinyl collections and one of the LP’s he put one day was this one. Ever since then, we became big fans of them. We got to see them in Desert Daze last year too and it was such a great show – they’re such a good live band.

3. Ulrika Spacek – Modern English Decoration
Ulrika’s new EP is so nice, we loved their last album as well but this one is more significant because of the fact that we got to tour with them across America last year after they released their EP. We became good friends with them and it was a gift to see them play every night, they’re a really great live band.

4. Helvetia – Helvetia’s Junk Shop
We discovered this band and album when we were touring with Ulrika Spacek, it was in one of their road trip playlists and we’ve been listening to them ever since. It has such good drums and melodies.

5. Lorelle Meets the Obsolete – De Facto
We have been fans of Lorelle Meets The Obsolete for quite some time now and this is their new album. We really loved it, specially the two last songs – they’re so good, as is the whole album really. We definitely recommend this band that also happens to be from Mexico.

Thanks to Mint Field for sharing their favourites with us! Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Adriana Tangassi

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Big Joanie

DIY punks Big Joanie have had a great year. They’ve toured extensively across the UK & Europe, supported our faves Dream Wife at Camden’s KOKO, and last week they released their debut album Sistahs. Their music is a mix of the personal and the political, and we wanted to know what inspires the girls to create their own sound. We caught up with band member Stephanie Phillips to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting technique. Check out her responses below…

1. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
I’m a huge Sleater-Kinney fan and it all started when I was a teenager. Listening to Dig Me Out in my bedroom when I was 16, I remember feeling a well of emotion in my chest. It was like I wanted to shout out loud with the song but I could never get the words out, even when I was alone. My journey from a shy, reserved kid to a singer in a band has mostly been through listening over and over again to this band and learning how to sing along. I’m pretty sure Carrie’s stadium rock guitar style has crept into my playing as well.

2. The Breeders – Last Splash
It’s hard to pick a favourite out of all of The Breeders albums, but Last Splash had a huge impact on me. Kim’s way of creating something that can still be a bit rough or unusual as long as its honest has been an approach I’ve tried to follow. The Deal sisters know their way around a harmony and it’s glorious to listen to them when it seems to come so naturally. Big Joanie’s album also opens with a song called ‘New Year’, not the same song but I must have subconsciously taken a note of this. It doesn’t matter how many times I go back to this album it’s still one of my favourites.

3. The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
I once went on a date with a guy who said he didn’t like ‘60s girl groups. I knew then and there I couldn’t be with that person. Who doesn’t love girl groups? From The Crystals to The Shangri-Las, I’ve studied every type of girl group but one of my all time favourites is The Ronettes. Ronnie Spector’s voice still sounds as arresting today as I imagine it did when the group first debuted. Though Phil Spector is a detestable human being, he was a visionary producer. The all encompassing wall of sound he was known for worked so well with The Ronettes sound. It’s a sound I’ve always wanted to capture myself. I know the wall of sound would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the young black women Spector worked with who gave it a voice.

4. Throwing Muses – Untitled
Again similar to the other artists I’ve listed, Throwing Muses have so many albums that influenced me but I have to pick their first album. I loved the complexity of the song structures, the emotional depth of the lyrics and the unusual turns and twists the record took. The album made me think about different ways to write pop songs. It made me think about how some of the best songs always take a different path to reach their destination of eventually becoming a pop song. Songs like ‘Vicky’s Box’, which is essentially a three part epic packed into a five minute song, shouldn’t work but they do.

5. PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
The raw blues punk of Peej soundtracked my early years and it’s still with me today. I love this album for all its worth. It’s strikingly intelligent, funny (even though many male journalists at the time didn’t seem to get her humour) and displays a level of emotional vulnerability that is rarely seen. Her dark sensibility and slightly twisted takes on love, lust, pain and anger captured my attention when I first listened to the album. I couldn’t believe that was the way people felt whether it was about her own experiences or not. Her ability to switch between different voices and tell numerous stories in her songs is comparable to the greats like Bob Dylan. I’m pretty sure for as long as I live I’ll always be trying but failing to replicate the work Polly created on this album.

Huge thanks to Steph for sharing her five favourites.

Order your copy of Big Joanie’s Sistahs here.

Follow the band of Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut