Re-Covered: Sally Anne’s Favourite Illustrated Albums

If you’re anything like us, throughout Lockdown you may have been seeking refuge in some of your favourite records, perhaps rediscovering some old classics along the way. So, for this new feature, illustrator Sally-Anne Hickman re-imagines her favourite ten albums of all time by painting their covers in her own unique style, using watercolours.

Check out the last of Sally-Anne’s choices below!

PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
PJ Harvey is a storyteller. This album is a macabre mix of chilling tales told over an unnerving organ and bluesy guitar. Harvey uses biblical imagery in her lyrics, she sings of the dry earth and hell, managing to somehow show a vulnerability in her strong raw vocals. The album is a display of her song writing mastery, PJ Harvey unleashes musical theatrics and melodrama and proves that quiet is just as powerful and disturbing as loud.

 

Sally-Anne Hickman
@sallyshinystars

FIVE FAVOURITES: Dolls

After sharing their debut EP Pop The Bubble in 2018, garage-rock duo Dolls have been busy writing new material and working with Producer Margo Broom (Hermitage Studio Works) to create more of their energetic guitar tunes. Filled with buoyant riffs, crashing percussion and strong vocals; their new EP, Eggshells, is a retrospective take on “Losing friends, creepy men, the strive for perfectionism, and day-to-day anxiety.”

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 Dolls’ vocalist & guitarist Jade Ellins to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her writing techniques. Check out Jade’s choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for Dolls’ track ‘Eggshells’ at the end of this post.

1. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
I felt like I got into PJ Harvey surprisingly late considering I have loved female-fronted bluesy rock for most of my life. When I first started gigging in London about 8 years ago, I used to get compared to her so I thought “I should really give her a listen2. This was the first PJ album I listened to and it blew my mind. I loved everything about it – her vocal performance, the production, the lyrics – it was all incredible. It really influences my song writing and I especially like the way she plays with dynamics on this album. She manages to make one riff sound interesting for over five minutes with her arrangements, which I feel is one of the hardest things to do. My partner bought me this on vinyl and I honestly find it hard to listen to records all the way through without zoning out but this album keeps my interest the whole time.

2. Deep Purple – Made In Japan
I used to listen to this album on car journeys when I was little all the time. I love Deep Purple, and this live album showcases how brilliant they are live, even if Ritchie Blackmore likes to go off and do his own thing a lot of the time! I love every song on this album but my favourites are ‘Highway Star’, ‘Lazy’ and ‘Space Truckin’. This album has a lot of good memories for me and Ritchie Blackmore is still one of my favourite guitarists. I wouldn’t say I directly use Deep Purple to influence my song writing but I feel like parts of them must come out as I have listened to them so much.

3. Pixies – Doolittle
I actually used to hate the Pixies, and I did see them live when I was 21 and was bored. Then about 4 years later I listened to some songs of Doolittle and it was a light bulb moment (I thought it might happen with The Smiths but I still hate them!) I think my music taste really changed as I wanted to be more experimental with song writing. Pixies have an amazing way of making certain songs that really shouldn’t work sound interesting and engaging. My favourite song off the album is ‘Hey’. When I listen to it I sometimes want to cry because it is so good. Every single musician brings something unique to the band and I feel like every part fits together perfectly. It’s probably why when seeing them live now it isn’t quite the same as they don’t have Kim Deal anymore. I have watched old live videos and she definitely brings the energy and has such a distinctive voice. Raspy and angelic at the same time! I love you Pixies, I’m sorry I doubted you.

4. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Is this one of the best live albums/shows of all time? I think so! I sometimes put the show on just so I can run around with them. The song writing is magnificent and I love how in the show they gradually build up the stage, I couldn’t believe it when I first watched it. The only thing I can’t work out is everyone is wearing a similar outfit but the drummer is wearing a bright blue polo shirt, it annoys me slightly but I’ll let it go one day. I love Talking Heads’ use of vocal harmony and much like most of the albums I have put on this list – every instrument has its own essential part. Some bands you can feel that they haven’t been bothered to push themselves to think of a better bass line or guitar part but each instrument and choice made on these Talking Heads songs creates an essential part in a well-oiled and groovy machine.

5. The Kills – Keep On Your Mean Side
A friend at music college introduced me to The Kills and out of the largely male led duos I was listening to at the time. I loved the fact that there were male and female vocal parts. I thought Alison Mosshart was the coolest person ever and such a brilliant performer. I don’t listen to The Kills much anymore, but when I was first starting Dolls they played a big role at influencing my song writing. My favourite song from the album is ‘Fried Your Little Brains’. Much like PJ Harvey, they manage to make one riff throughout a whole song sound brilliant. I think that is largely down to Jamie’s rhythmic guitar playing. I used to watch him a lot to help with guitar playing ideas for Dolls. Out of the big duos at the time (The Black Keys, The White Stripes) Jamie’s guitar playing was my favourite. Not too showy but still unique.

Thanks to Jade for sharing her favourites with us!
Listen to Dolls’ new EP Eggshells on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Keira-Anee Photography

Five Favourites: Roaches

Swedish four-piece garage band Roaches have just released their new EP ROACHES! and we are loving it! They describe their sound as “Acid flop lollipop fuzzy pussy bug smash lash trash bubble slug hug” – need I say more…

We caught up with Linda & Åsa to tell us their ‘Five Favourites’ – five artists or albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. They both came back with so many great choices, we let them have five each because we’re nice like that. Check out their choices below, and make sure you give their new EP ROACHES! a listen at the end of this post!

Linda – I have been singing since I was a little girl. For me, it’s been really natural to identify with female singers. Mostly the ones who ”stood out”. Here’s a few of them:

Blondie – ‘Dreaming’
Debbie has been my number one since I was six years old. The first time I heard Blondie was through my father’s cassettes and I fell in love. I was completely fascinated that a girl could sing both in a beautiful and ugly way at the same time. And I still listen to her just as much today! It’s hard to find a favourite song but ‘Dreaming’ is captivating and never gets old!

Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Cities in Dust’
This video caught my attention first, not the music. I remember sitting in front of the TV screaming when it came on. Siouxsie has this dark appearance and voice that is really dramatic, and I loved it. ‘Cities in Dust’ is both dark and catchy and it’s about volcanoes! And I love volcanoes!

Kate Bush –  ‘Cloudbusting’
Kate Bush is multi-talented at mixing music, dance and her unique appearance and that really caught my attention at a young age. She is strange and I can relate to that because I feel the same. ‘Cloudbusting’ is my favourite song of hers, it just feels really ‘Kate’, and it resonates with me on a personal level too.

Björk – ‘Jóga’
I have followed Bjork since Kukl and Sugarcubes. It’s hard to describe in words how much she means to me. But, in short, she represents freedom. She has always done what she wants. She can be like a child and the next second a queen. I admire that ability. Björk is the artist I feel closest to myself. I choose Jóga for the love of Björk and the Scandinavian nature.

The Coathangers – ‘Hurricane’
The Coathangers are both inspirational as a band and people. I’ve had the privilege to open for them and got a chance to hang out with them; both their performance and their supportive attitude and words to me really struck a chord. They are cool, cuddly and gave me good advice. I choose ‘Hurricane’ because I love Rusty’s voice and the song is just like them, badass and corky!

Åsa – In taking on the task to list five personal anthems, I felt bound to retrieve some of the songs of my youth. Of course, this leaves out a lot of songs that hold meaning for me. However, my adolescent and young adult life framed my interest in music and woke my desire to perform on stage. So here’s my list, in no particular order – all holding equal weight in their meaning to me:

Dead Moon – ‘It’s O.K.’
Dead Moon are one of my favourite bands of all time. The song ‘It’s O.K.’ is, as for many others, the first song I ever heard of this iconic garage band. I can only hope to be as fierce on stage as Toody after the age of retirement.

Raooul/Skinned Teen – ‘Spirit of ’78’
As a young punk I of course listened to all the women and queers that had managed to “break through” within the scene. Several of whom would have made this list if I had gotten this quest of listings anthems as a member of one of my other bands. This band, however was truly life changing for me. I got the split record with Raooul and Skinned Teen at the age of 14 and it hit me with a blast.

Thee Headcoatees – ‘Wild Man’
One of the things I love with the genre of garage is the kind of sweet sound with rough edges. Girlsville was the first record of this end of the genre, it has this sound with a clear feminist vibe – of course my teenage self was hooked.

PJ Harvey –  ‘To Bring You My Love’
Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project are probably two of the records I have listened to the most in later years. However, as a young girl I was introduced to PJ Harvey through the records To Bring You My Love and Rid of Me. I truly believe she is one of the greatest musicians in rock music.

The 5, 6, 7 8s – ‘Motorcycle Go Go Go’
Before The 5,6,7,8s appeared in Kill Bill, my brother introduced me to this band, probably through one of the mixtapes that he gave me. They were my introduction to the surf part of the garage rock genres.

Thanks to Linda & Åsa for sharing their favourites! Check out their epic EP ROACHES!, which you can buy from Bandcamp now. Follow Roaches on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

LISTEN: I Am HER – ‘Big Monster’

Following 2018’s poignant Herstory, alt-punk outfit I Am HER are back with an angst-driven new single.

Reflecting on feelings of anxiety, ‘Big Monster’ oozes a captivating haunting power with shades of the gritty sounds of early PJ Harvey. Propelled by the soaring majesty of Julie Riley’s rousing vocals, it builds to a stirring frenzied anthem, driven by an impassioned force and raw emotion. Of the track, Julie explains:

“… this song was triggered by someone telling me their experience of an anxiety attack. It got me thinking how anxiety/stress is like a beast separate to us that stalks us and preys on us.”

Listen to ‘Big Monster’ now:

 

Catch I Am HER playing live for us tonight at The Finsbury, along with Piney Gir, Grawl!x and Captain Handsome. All for free!

Mari Lane
@marimindles