Both my work and Kelly’s work is very model-driven. In this project especially we talked openly about which influences we wanted to synthesize for each piece. I put together this playlist to give a glimpse into part of our world. This is the part that influenced many of my arrangement and mixing decisions.
Click HERE to open this playlist in Spotify
1) ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE- THE BAND
This is the first song on the Band’s second album, self-titled. They were the first country-sounding band I ever heard use horns. Their blend of American idioms reigns supreme. The trombone lines here really bring it home.
2) WILD CREATURES- NEKO CASE
With her most recent album, Neko has brought us a sonic masterpiece. This track is so full of surprises and soon-to-be-discoveries. The lyrics and musical landscape are in perfect matrimony.
3) WILL YOU LOVE ME- MATTHEW E. WHITE
This song, this album, this artist, this label, have been the biggest influence on my music and artistic mindset for the past year. I can’t say enough about MEW and his Spacebomb cohorts in this little space. Their arrangements are stunning. Their knowledge of music history stuns me. Most importantly, they project a beautiful sense of care and team-mindedness into their work.
4) GIVE LIFE BACK TO MUSIC- DAFT PUNK
Using “real” instruments makes a pretty big difference in the sound of this album compared to both other Daft Punk albums and to the average pop album from 2013. Niles Rogers brings legendary funk to the guitar sound. The turn-back-the-clock vibe of the claps provides perfect counter to the vocoder. The mixes on this album are sheen, tight, crisp, and clear.
5) I JUST WASN’T MADE FOR THESE TIMES- THE BEACH BOYS
A masterful song from a masterful album. I am a huge fan of the way Brian Wilson paired sorrowful lyrics with bright-sounding timbres and textures. Take note, too, of the spunky washed out percussion.
6) KEEP ON CHURNING (‘TIL THE BUTTER COMES) WYNONIE HARRIS
One of the greatest acts to come from Omaha, Wynonie Harris occupied a magical segment of R&B and rock ‘n roll history. In this cherished time, the bass was upright and unplugged. The saxophone brought the sultry swing just as often as the guitar, and the lyrics were always as dirty as you thought they were. This song is no exception.
7) WHITE CEDAR- MOUNTAIN GOATS
I appreciate that John Darnielle strives to make folksy music fresh. This record juxtaposes Darnielle’s edgy and sometimes angsty lyrics with glorious horn arrangements from Matthew E. White.
8) RED FACED BOY- HOWARD IVANS
His real name is Ivan Howard. He usually sings and plays guitar with an indie band called the Rosebuds. Here, he brings us a spiced-up, let’s-hit-the-dancefloor groove backed by disco strings, sassy horns, and a relentless Spacebomb rhythm section. It’s lush. It’s longing. It’s lovely.
9) EVERY LITTLE BIT HURTS- BRENDA HOLLOWAY
Brenda is my current favorite-diva-you’ve-probably-never-heard-of. She was one of the first to join Motown’s West coast Tamla division. Her voice is sweet, yet powerful. Raspy, yet smooth. The piano part is pleasant and unobtrusive, and the strings are dramatic but not sappy. By the way, Holloway also co-wrote “You’ve Made Me so Very Happy.”
10) KNOW TILL NOW- JIM JAMES
James is kind of a sage in my mind. He’s had his hand in so many marvelous and unique projects, but I never find his genre-bending heavy handed or gimmicky. This is the single from his first solo record. Everything about this record knocked my socks into psychedelic-Americana-outer-space. The first time I listened to it all the way through I was devastated by its ingenuity. Now I just enjoy the hell of it.
11) UNCHAINED MELODY- THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
This song really needs no comments or introduction. The vocal performances transport us to a time of class rings and letter jackets. Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound arouses physical vibrations deep in the soul.
12) THE LONELY SURFER- JACK NITZSCHE
Nitzsche composed wild and eccentric surf and film music in the 60s. I particularly admire the way he surrounded familiar surf tropes with bizarre arrangements. Sometimes his music reminds me of a Brian Wilson-composed soundtrack for a Tarrantino movie.
13) MOONLIGHT MILE- THE ROLLING STONES
The Stones rarely got this sensitive, which is partly why this song is so powerful for me. The drifting, solitary piano, the distant cymbal rolls, and lyrics like, “I am just living to be by your side,” all contribute to this vibe. And then, at the second chorus, strings. The composition and lyrical content become one as the strings drive us home through the moonlight.