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