Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: British guitarist Dean McPhee and Atlanta post-punk foursome The Coathangers.
Listed: Dean McPhee + Coathangers
Dean McPhee is a solo guitarist, but not of the sort that you often read about at Dusted. The West Yorkshire gent isn’t a Fahey acolyte but he does fingerpick – he’s more of the slow-burning variety, electric but ancient at the same time. His album Son of The Black Peace was Wire contributor Steve Barker’s No. 1 album of 2011, and Brainwashed argued the LP earned McPhee a spot in “the upper echelon of contemporary solo guitarists.” He’ll try to top that success this year with a new solo LP on Blast First (Petite) and a live collaboration with guitar legend Michael Chapman.
1. NEU! - NEU!
This was a real revelation when I first heard it back in the mid-’90s. I couldn’t believe it was recorded back in 1971. It still sounds so fresh and ahead of its time. “Weissensee” is serene but it has a dark undercurrent too. “Negativland” is perhaps my favorite tune on the album—Michael Rother’s performance on the guitar and the way he plays with the flanging effect is awesome.
2. Digital Mystikz - Return II Space
This album is actually a solo album by Mala and is only available as a triple vinyl LP. I saw him DJing at the West Indian Centre in Leeds at a DMZ Exodus night with Coki, the other half of Digital Mystikz. It was amazing to hear tracks like “Mountain Dread March” on the Iration Sound System. The sub-bass was unbelievably heavy and almost overwhelming at times.
3. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
This was one of the first records that I heard. Everything about it is just right, from the cover art to the intro with all the rain and thunder to the music itself. The production is great too, with loads of reverb. Tony Iommi’s playing in the section on Side B—that includes the tracks “Sleeping Village” and “The Warning”—is amazing, especially the bits where he is playing unaccompanied.
4. The Congos - The Heart of the Congos
This album has such a mystical, otherworldly atmosphere and with all the layers of tape hiss, Space Echo and Mutron phaser. Lee Perry’s production really adds to and brings out an extra dimension in the songs. Tracks like "Children Crying" and "Open up the Gate” have a soulful, dreamlike quality that is really moving.
5. Autechre - Chiastic Slide
For me this album strikes a good balance between their more melodic earlier stuff and more abstract later albums. It has some really interesting and unpredictable rhythms, sounds and textures. My favorite tracks off this are "Tewe" and "Pule." I like the richness of the sounds and the way that the tracks progress, with lots of subtle detail.
6. Band of Gypsies - Band of Gypsies
The highlight of this album for me is "Machine Gun," one of Jimi Hendrix’s very best live performances. You can see from the footage from the show that he played this piece stood almost completely still, totally focused on what he was doing musically. The fluidity and sheer expressiveness and fire in his playing is untouchable.
7. Afel Boucoum - Alkibar
Afel Boucoum started out as a protégé of Ali Farka Toure, who also plays guitar on this album. It is beautifully recorded and has a lovely rolling sound with soaring vocal melodies and some great playing. Hearing this for the first time was a real breath of fresh air for me and it has definitely has had an influence on my own music.
8. Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains the Same
Along with the Black Sabbath album this is some of the very first music that I heard growing up and is one of the things that got me into playing the guitar. There is some great playing on this video from all the members of the band, especially in the intense extended version of "Dazed and Confused." The bizarre fantasy sequences are hilarious too.
9. Master Musicians of Joujouka - Joujouka Black Eyes
This music is so deep and complex yet at the same time it is very simple and sparse. I really like the way the melodic lines repeat and reinvent themselves as they go along, with endless variations and embellishments. It’s also interesting how it works with only the percussion covering the lower frequencies. It’s something that I would love to witness live.
10. Miles Davis - Miles Smiles
I like a lot of his albums, but this one is a particular favorite. Tony Williams’ very fluid sense of time on this is incredible, especially on "Freedom Jazz Dance," and the interaction between the players seems almost telepathic. Miles Davis is a master of phrasing and of using space, and he has had a real influence on both my playing and the way I think about music.
There’s nothing more punk rock than starting a band before even knowing how to play instruments. Granted, there’s plenty of cases where despite it being “punk rock,” it mostly just makes for a shitty band. Such is not the case for the all girl Atlanta quartet The Coathangers; their ramshackle musical ability is exactly what makes them so special. Decidedly not ones to take themselves seriously (the band name is a thinly veiled abortion reference), Coathangers fit right into the nascent party-garage scene helmed by Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, and fellow Atlantians The Carbonas and The Black Lips. Amidst the Coathangers cacophonous wails and hurky vocal workouts, these girls manage to, perhaps inadvertently, create some damn catchy tunes and put on one hell of a live show. For this week’s listed, vocalist/guitarist Julia Kugel gives us a list of stellar choices that influence her band.
1. Gang of Four - Entertainment
Amazing record and post-punk classic. Perfect combo of intelligent music with a pop sensibility. This record definitely has some dance hits but the lyrical content is mostly an exploration of social constructs and political inequities. Plus the interplay between the guitar and bass is something to be admired.
2. Toy Love - Toy Love
New Zealand treasure! This is an amazing record! Top track picks include "Bride of Frankenstein," "Toy Love Song" and "Photographs of Naked Ladies." We were first introduced to this band by the late great Jay Reatard and fell in love instantly. A beautifully enchanting psycho pop treasure.
3. Delta 5 - Singles & Sessions 1979-1981
Two bass players and two singers. Intricate movements in the bass lines and freak out guitar patches under layered vocals... It was love at first earful! We definitely appreciate the simplicity of the song structures but admire the dance sensibility and socially aware lyrical content. Top track picks include "You" and "Mind Your Own Business."
4. The Gun Club - Fire of Love
From start to finish, I LOVE this record. Country punk from L.A.? I dunno how it happened but it definitely works! It’s so brutally honest and irreverent. The guitars are dirty and the songs are straight forward and raw. A classic, yes, but I can still listen to it all the time. And I do.
5. The Make-Up - I Want Some
First time I heard the Make-Up, I was blown away. Soul/funk/rock n’ roll/post-punk heroes, for sure. I totally admire lead singer and strategist Ian Svenonius for his vision and his vocal delivery. We had the opportunity to play with his new band Chain and the Gang in Atlanta one time and I cannot describe how thrilling it was. Love everything about the Make-Up!
6. Wire - Pink Flag
At one point in my life, this was the only CD that played in my car. Probably have listened to this album 500 times... no joke. And I still love it. Some songs are only 30 seconds long! Brilliant! I love a short song. Makes you want to listen to it over and over. Obviously.
7. Crass - Feeding of the 5000
Amazing band! I remember the first time I heard "Asylum." I was blown away by the sheer FUCK YOU attitude! Fuck you... I say what I want! Love that. That sense of liberation from the "acceptable" stuck with me for life and absolutely influenced the attitude of the Coathangers.
8. Pixies - Surfer Rosa
So amazing. Haunting, strange lyrics. Great vocal interplay between Kim and Francis. Joey Santiago is one of my favorite guitar players ever. He can be straight forward or all over the place. He does what he wants. Still listen to this album all the time.
9. CSS - Casei de Ser Sexy
Unpretentious fun record. Have no idea what any of the lyrics mean but it definitely makes you want to dance. You have to remember sometimes that life is to be laughed at—this record is lighthearted and fun enough to achieve that. We listened to this a lot when we first started playing together.
10. The Detroit Cobras - Mink Rat or Rabbit
Love this record! Classic rock n’ roll sound. Makes you wanna do the twist. Vocals are amazing and strong and have a "fuck off" feeling we have always admired.
By Dusted Magazine