Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The High Llamas and Yacht.
Listed: The High Llamas + Yacht
The High Llamas
There was a time when you couldn't set foot in your record store's import section without stumbling on something touched by British producer/musician Sean O'Hagen. These days his profile is a little bit lower, but the quality of his product no worse. Heavily influence by the Beach Boys' prime time, O'Hagen's lush, stringed work as frontman of the High Llamas made its deepest foothold on the 1996 masterpiece, Hawaii. Lately he's done production/arrangement work for artists such as Sondre Lerche, Dove, and Turin Bakes. The new High Llamas record, Can Cladders, is now out on Drag City Records.
1. Dorothy Ashby - Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby
This extraordinary record is typical of the meeting of black consciousness and 60's freeform in poetry as well as music . It has an Ornette feel to it and explores the koto as well as the harp. It got into thinking about Dorothy as a seminal figure.
2. Mamas and Papas - People Like Us
John Philips wanted to make more of an r&b record here and the harmony lead innocence of the 60's Mamas and Papas gives away to something sounding more like a Bones Howe production . Love it .
3. Carla Bley - Escalator Over the Hill
Here Carla is loose and not slick( as many would know her work in the 80's) Jack Bruce and Paul Haines join in the big band brass avant extravaganza to great effect. Some lovely slow melodies . Puts you in the mind of Charlie Mingus.
4. The Specials - More Specials
I did not realize it at the time ……1980….. bit as a kid I was taking Jerry Dammers take in warped Muzak to heart and would be referring to it musically in High Llamas records two years later. Funny how things come around.
5. Captain Beefheart - Moonbeams and Bluejeans
The critics hated this record. They said CB had gone soft and lost his edge ( don't you hate that word usually used by people who have never experienced anything but life on a plate ) Well it was a lovely smooth mid 70's drift with a tantalizing Beefheart twist, just enough to keep it this side of Little Feet.
6. Laura Nyro - Gonna Take a Miracle
This record is pure joy. Loads of early 60 's covers, girl group America given the gospel treatment.
7. Kate Bush - Never Forever
Kate is one of England's finest and can write songs to last a century . This her best record to date from 1980 dared to stalk the UK singles charts as Babooshka and proved that every decade has its triumphs.
8. France Gall - 1968
With David Whittaker writing stunning string arrangements , 1968 brought France Gall away from Gainsbourgs babypop and into solid French baroque pop .Stands up along with the best of classic French pop from the late 60's and must not be forgotten.
9. Richard and Linda Thompson - I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
Sometimes simple writing (Bob Dylan) is a hard but brings well won rewards . This classic hard folk rocker from 75 brings grief and stunning guitar playing and sympathetic singing together . I always get it out when I'm drunk.
10. Dr John - The Night Tripper
This is a messy record. Good messy. Sounds like it was recorded by people who had not seen daylight in a week. Its haunted and menaces in a way, but lets not be frightened. It's the good doctor. Blues behind Haitian voodoo backing vocals which are sly and approximate and Dr John weaves in and out of the mike . The sound spills rather than sounds . Its irreverent and spooky. But lets not be afraid. It' just a record.
Jona Bechtolt is the drummer du jour/collaborater for seemingly anything Olympia-related, having lent his hands lately to artists such as Little Wings, Mr. Eerie, Bobby Birdman, E*Rock, and most recently The Blow. But he has also worked hard to establish himself as a respected an innovative musical and creative mind on his own. Among his achievements, he founded the Urban Honking blog collective, has been commissioned to create work for the Portland Museum of Contemporary Art, the New York MOCA, and more. He even has his own typeface! His music is as varied and impressive as his extra-curriculars, and his discography quite impressive. For a little taste, check out this video. Given how accessible the dude makes himself (you can text him from his website!), the biggest surprise is that he hasn't made one of these lists yet!
My friend runs a small label here in Portland called States Rights Records. I put out the very first YACHT album with him in 2003 and we just made a new compilation of remixes I've made for Architecture in Helsinki, Mirah, Tussle, Bobby Birdman, The Blow, and more. He's putting out a 2-disc compilation later this year that's all new tracks from bands embracing their most embarrassing early influences, from ska to industrial to Kenny G to whatever! It's called Grown Zone, or Groan Zone and I'm so stoked about it! I've heard a lot of the tracks that are coming in and they're all so deep and good!
So...for my list I'd like to share my top 10 mildly-embarrassing-to- deeply-embarrassing influences that I'm now OWNING and embracing:
1. Wilson Phillips - "Hold On"
This was the very first music that I purchased of my own volition. My Mom drove me to this little record shop in Astoria, Oregon, where I grew up, that has since gone out of business and I bought the cassette single of "Hold On" after falling in love with it on our local soft rock radio station. The breakdown is especially fucking awesome.
2. Ministry - In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up Live (VHS)
Around 7th grade I started really getting into Ministry after my middle school bandmates turned me on to them. My friend had this video and we'd watch it over and over and over. Somehow it never got old to us. The show seemed so crazy and even scary at times. They had a big chain fence in front of the stage and people kept climbing it and hurling themselves off of it and back into the crowd. Two drummers! SO GOOD.
3. Milli Vanilli - Girl You Know It's True
Not just the song, but the entire album. I think most people know how epic and sad the entire Milli Vanilli story is, but I can't get over it. I was really into these songs around the same time I liked Wilson Phillips. I remember being at my friend's house just staring at the boombox and reading the lyrics and being so blown away with how much we liked it. That was like 3rd or 4th grade.
4. Hole - Live Through This
In 1994 my brother was sent to federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon for blowing up a power transformer with a MAC-10 Uzi and causing a city- wide blackout in Astoria...I know. Anyway, my Mom and I would drive 2 and a half hours every week to visit him and this would be our time to listen to tapes and talk about music. My Mom was the biggest Hole fan, she even sort of forced me to go see them at the big stadium when they toured with Marilyn Manson in 1999. She is an even bigger Nirvana fan, so when Live Through This came out a week after dude killed himself, we needing something to grab on to. A couple years later my high school-era grunge band covered "Rock Star" and I sang "Well I went to school in Astoria" instead of "Well I went to school in Olympia." Woah, I just read the Wikipedia entry about Hole and I didn't know the story behind that song being swapped out and actually called "Olympia." Deep.
5. Green Day - Kerplunk
We'd also listen to a lot of Green Day on those drives. Tré Cool totally inspired my second-wave of drumming, the first wave being Dave Grohl. My Mom and I loved how melodic the songs were and how many were on the albums. I think they used a weird harmonizer effect on the voice a lot and that always sounded good and funny to me. Like a choir of slightly weird robots singing this sloppy pop punk music! I haven't listened to this record in a long time, I should check it out again.
6. The Vandals - s/t
Before grunge was invented there was punk. After there was punk there was all kinds of stuff like sport-punk and pop-punk and even more sub- genres of punk-ish music. I owe a lot of my early love of music to my two older brothers. They would build crappy skateboard ramps and put on Vandals and Bad Brains tapes and let me hang out with them and skate around on my Nash board. I rediscovered this record later in 8th grade when my best friend got really into and decided we should try to cover "Anarchy Burger" in our band, The Rejecks.
7. Good Morning Vietnam - Soundtrack
I'm not embarrassed of the music at all. No way. I really don't like the skits or Robin Williams in general, really. Sorry brother. This movie and soundtrack came out in 1987, most of which I was 6 and pretty in love with most music I heard. Every time I heard Liar, Liar song by The Castaways it made me feel weird and like I did something bad. Maybe I did. That brings us to the next thing on the list...
8. Sade - Smooth Operator
My parents used to own a gas station/convenience store and all kinds of regulars were always hanging out around the store. There were a group of kids that were a couple years older than that I'm sure didn't like me, but that I thought were cool. They were mostly just mean. One day they called me over to around the side of the store where there was a phone booth and they started giggling like crazy. They told me that I should pick up the phone, dial 0, and cuss out the operator. I thought this was a brilliant idea so I did it. As soon as the fourth or fifth swear came out I felt really bad. Just as I was hanging up the phone my brother came walking around the corner and the kids ratted on me. So my brother told my other brother and they formed an alliance against me and whenever I caught them doing something bad, or whenever they wanted to freak me out, they would start singing "smooooth operatorrrrrr....smooooooooth operatorrrrrrrr" and it made me panic!
9. Faith No More - King For Day, Fool For A Lifetime
Yeah. Totally. A couple of my friends really started getting into technical music. They would point out an awesome drum fill or a guitar sound and rewind and mime it out. It got to the point to where my older friend in high school installed tweeters in his car to get the full effect. Right about the same time this new Faith No More record came out. The first single "Digging The Grave" popped up on MTV without any titles or credits or anything and I was confused. Parts of it sounded like the Faith No More I knew from "Epic" and Angel Dust, but other parts didn't at all. I bought the CD and later bought a live bootleg from the back of some magazine and I got really into listening to it technically. I found out later that they recorded it at this fancy studio called Bearsville in upstate New York, really close to Woodstock and where I recorded some drums and percussion on Devendra Banhart's album Cripple Crow.
10. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
This record just came out, but I downloaded it a couple weeks ago. At first I really didn't want to like LCD Soundsystem, or I guess any band that gets so much hype. I know, I know, that concept in itself is pretty lame, but I feel like the underdog is almost always more interesting. Like Xtina. Anyway, I saw them play two summers ago and I loved it so fucking much that there was no way I was going to try and pretend that I didn't love them. Since then I've been pretty excited for their second record and when I first listened to it with headphones on....the first song came on and I was like "WHAT THE FUCK?" The first track, "Get Innocuous," has a VERY similar bassline to a song off of my new record that comes out in May. I think that I have a minor, but possibly notable, subconscious or magical brain link to James Murphy. So, that's pretty embarrassing.
By Dusted Magazine