FIVE FAVOURITES: Cuffed Up

“I have a bachelor’s degree in guitar performance but really I’ve just wanted to write songs and play in rock bands,” explains Cuffed Up‘s vocalist and guitarist Sapphire Jewell. “I had a sad realization this year that I’ve never had guitar role models. To think I’ve been playing guitar for 14 years now and I’ve never been taught anything on guitar by a woman…not even on YouTube or anywhere online. I wish I could’ve had more badass female guitarists to look up to, I think I’d be a better guitarist if I did.” Jewell doesn’t let a lack of representation hold her back though. She fronts LA alt-rock band Cuffed Up with genuine tenacity, stepping into the musical spotlight trying to fill the gaps she’s painfully aware of.

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 Sapphire Jewell to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch Cuffed Up’s video for ‘French Exit’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Foals – ‘Two Steps, Twice’
First of all, I love Foals and I love their debut album Antidotes. This song is so insanely fun to listen to. It just bops. It’s mathy, poppy and heavy all in one track. How is that even possible?! I think it was one of the first songs I’d recognized as being perfectly crafted to be played live. There’s so much room to change the arrangement and build it out as a banger live track. Now, whenever I write something new I think about the live aspect of it and what it could do in a live setting that’s elevated or different from the recorded version. Even now, 12 years after Antidotes was released, Foals close their shows with this song because it still rips. I gotta have a song like that someday.

2. Nick Drake – ‘River Man’
I’ve loved this song for many years now. It flows so smoothly despite being in an odd 5/4 time signature. I am enamoured by the chilling chord changes, the way his voice sounds like a breeze passing through a quiet town and the strings that just melt me away. It’s so mysterious and fleeting. This song is hauntingly beautiful. Maybe this isn’t a desirable sensation, but it makes me feel old and almost wise for those few minutes. Nothing has ever moved me in that way before. I think more people should know Nick Drake and this song.

3. Grizzly Bear – ‘Yet Again’
Okay, so no one has the right to make such a perfect guitar tone! Especially not in the first four chords?!? God damn this song is unreal. Literally every time this song starts I’m just like “this is IT.” The best part?! It feels new every time I hear it. How can that be? It’s one of those songs that I wish I’d written. I’m not sure I could pinpoint exactly what it is that’s so perfect about this song, but Grizzly Bear sure knows how to layer and produce marvellous music and this is my favourite of theirs.

4. Beach House – ‘Zebra’
This song and this band take me back to the better parts of my life in high school. I didn’t have many friends who were passionate about music, really just one, and we both loved Beach House. Most of my friends didn’t pay much attention to what they listened to but my friend Deric and I would share music with each other. That was really special. Whenever I think of Beach House I think of him. ‘Zebra’ was one of my favourites of older Beach House. They have a zillion amazing songs and they all remind me of the good times during those hellish years of high school.

5. Miike Snow – ‘Genghis Khan’
So this song RIPS and the music video is BRILLIANT. The song stands on it’s own but the video just seals the deal and now it’s unforgettable. It grooves so hard and makes me feel all giddy. This song and its video are untouchable. It’s too good. It’s too fun. I love it way too much. I can’t explain further, it’s one of those you gotta see and hear for yourself. You’d be a fool not to thoroughly enjoy the might and power of Miike Snow’s ‘Genghis Khan’!

Thanks to Sapphire for sharing her favourite tracks with us!

Watch the video for Cuffed Up’s single ‘French Exit’ below.

Follow Cuffed Up on Spotify, bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Ana Karotkaya

Track Of The Day: TUSKS – ‘London Thunder’ (Foals cover)

Prepare to be blown away buy Tusks‘ cover of Foals’ track ‘London Thunder’. The song is featured on her debut album Dissolve, released via One Little Indian last week, and it’s a delicate, reverb-laden, spine-tingling rendition that’s equally as good as the original recording.

Newcomer Tusks (aka Emily Underhill) writes and produces music with a melancholy but honest edge, with her simultaneously strong and fragile voice at the forefront of all that she creates. She’ll be playing at Kamio on 15th November to celebrate the launch of her new album, so make sure you grab a ticket and head down to hear this exquisite cover live.

Follow Tusks on Facebook fore more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Tusks – ‘Dissolve’

If you’re a fan of delicately produced music, Tusks’ debut album Dissolve is an essential listen. Released today via One Little Indian, the ten track record is an impressive offering from newcomer Emily Underhill.

Created alongside longtime co-producer Brett Cox, Dissolve explores territories both internal and external: insecurity, the breaking down of relationships with ourselves and our lovers, and most importantly – hope. ‘For You’ opens the record with lonely keys, clicking beats and Tusks’ delicate vocals, all blended seamlessly to create a moving, ethereal soundscape. On ‘False’ she laments about the lover who “broke down my walls,” the wasted energy and lost faith is explored via piercing guitar riffs and tumultuous percussion.

‘Last’ is laced with reverb and aching vocals and a chorus that rings out in a style similar to that of ethereal indie band Daughter. The eponymous ‘Dissolve’ is a highlight of the record. Slow-building and sensitive, it’s an aural trip through bad memories that have seeped below the skin. It leads in to mysteriously named ‘1807’, which is a masterclass in Brian Cox’s production skills. Each click of percussion and tap of the keys sounds as crisp and pure as Tusks’ measured vocals.

‘Paris’ hosts precious whisperings of love and insecurity – “I’m not safe when I’m alone” –  and could soundtrack a sad night in the city it’s named after, whilst following track ‘Ivy’ is a metaphor for the suffocating doubt that lingers in toxic relationships. ‘Toronto’ contrasts nicely with predecessor ‘Paris’, and while the soundscape here is larger and lonelier, there’s still an essence of hope present in both the vocals and ambient guitar.

Penultimate track ‘My Love’ is a gentle ode to the discovery of true romance, bathed in twinkling synths and more of Tusks’ trademark echoing vocals. The record closes with an eerie cover of Foals‘ ‘London Thunder’ – which Tusks delivers in her own pensive, mesmerising way. Buy your copy of Dissolve today, and let its sensitive sounds erode your fears away.

You can order your copy of Dissolve here, and RSVP here to the album launch show at Kamio on November 15th. Follow Tusks on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Harvey Pearson

Kate Crudgington
@KCBocCut