Nashville-via-Boston duo Twen are gearing up to support Seattle rockers TacoCat tomorrow night at Hackney’s Moth Club (29th Aug), and we’re convinced their celestial, angular sounds will impress their London crowd. Comprised of Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones, Twen came to life over the space of two years as the duo toured the Boston DIY punk scene. Now, they’re getting ready to share their debut album Awestruck, which is set for release on 20th September via Frenchkiss.
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 Jane to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to Twen’s track ‘Baptism’ at the end of this post.
1. Central Heating – Heatwave
This is a classic that has stayed with me since I was 14. Before streaming, I would check out CDs at the library and rip them into my iTunes library. I found Heatwave while trying to listen to every funk/disco band I could find (thinking I could somehow listen to the whole genre). This whole album has a playfulness that packs some serious joy. The title track is the star of the show; the vocals are so strangely melodic but carry major rhythmic weight. I just love the concept of making people groove out with a vocal melody rather than the beat. Also the most silly and beautiful intro and outro I have yet encountered. James Guthrie (of Pink Floyd The Wall fame) produced this album, which I don’t really care about but something to note.
2. Bibio – À tout à l’heure
I put this song on a mixed CD I made for Ian when we were sophomores in college. We would make so many mixes for each other, a different type of language than our early awkward convos. I would meticulously decorate them with sharpies and would spend hours deciding how to make the perfect “flow”. This was a song I found out he loved too, and he even knew how to play them to my amazement. The beyond beautiful and intricate finger-picking is so delicate but this song is a BANGER. The beat and funky bass line pair perfect with the acoustic layers and nonsensical lyrics (“À tout à l’heure”, French for “see you later”). There is such emotional and hypnotic value to this song, without making logical sense of it. Bibio still and always will have the best production sounds on the block, mixing analog and digital to make more of a sound tapestry than just a mere song.
3. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Los Vegas
I found out about Cocteau Twins through my friend Matt, who DJ’d a college radio show called “Folk U” with me for two years. We had inherited the show and both slowly started to move out of the genre till Death Grips was playing. He played ‘Cherry-colored Funk’ and I nearly lost my damn mind, I had never heard anything so perfect. I read once that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice was ‘the voice of God’ and I don’t dispute it. Her ingenious melodies put me in a trance and make me feel like I’m understanding something outside words. Also, I have sweet memories with this album since it was one of the few albums I brought with me on an iPod on a trip to Iceland. I had gone by myself after college to camp 10 days in June when it’s daylight 22 hours a day (the only way I felt safe to camp by myself). I brought an old ass iPod that only had room for a few albums and this one of them. So, I listened the shit out of it while looking at the insane Icelandic landscape and I still love it.
4. Lijadu Sisters – Horizon Unlimited
I had first heard the Lijadu sisters while working in a vegetarian restaurant in St. Louis, where I’m from. I had just moved back home for a quick quarter-life crisis. The owner and chef, Bay would sometimes make the playlists for the restaurant and loved blasting Lijadu Sisters. Being surrounded by an inspiring woman with a fountain of culinary creativity and listening to this album most days made a hard time a little less unbearable. The power of music. The beats and melodic riffs will make any day great and the two sisters feel exponentially BIG singing in unison. I really enjoy listening to music in different languages, it makes me notice the melodies better and the variety of vocal sounds possible that aren’t even used in English.
5. Mercyful Fate – Melissa
I’m not super metal literate, but Mercyful Fate is THE metal band in my little world. On a tour probably a year ago (I only remember it was cold outside, they all start to blend together) a sound guy played this in the venue after the lights went on, probably to make everyone leave. A classic move. It made me want to STAY and to find out everything. Better known as King Diamond, this was his first band and Melissa is their first album. The vocal range is inhuman and the diversity of sounds that merely one person can make is an inspiration. Also I was raised Catholic, so hearing about covens and satanic rituals brings me a twisted joy.
Thanks to Jane for sharing their five favourites with us! Follow TWEN on Facebook for more updates.
Photo credit: Alexa Viscius