It’s International Women’s Day. I’m sure you can find more intelligent bloggers than me if you want to learn about that. I’m just gonna shout about female singer/songwriters who’ve shaped my own writing. Whenever I see male artists list there biggest influences, they always seem to be male. Not that I don’t have male influences (duh) but, all of these women had a HUGE impact on me as a songwriter.
Tori Amos was the first female singer/songwriter I became a true fan of. She burst the bubble of guitar bands I was listening to in the most spectacular fashion when my RE teacher gave me a cassette of Under The Pink. I played it endlessly, but it was From The Choirgirl Hotel that really shaped what I do. The production, the writing, the atmosphere… everything about it scared and excited me. It’s remained in my top 5 albums of all time since the day it came out. I’ve stolen so many ideas from this album, it’s not even funny. Here’s the opener, Spark. Pure spooked out bliss.
I don’t need to explain this one do I? I mean, it’s obvious right? Total Bjork obsessive. Surely the most inventive musician working today. 2001′s Vespertine took over my life for months. It’s layers of tiny beats and colossal classical waves was the most beautiful, most human thing I’d ever heard. I actually had to make a conscious decision to stop listening to it, such was it’s overwhelming emotional hold over my life. She’s made incredible music before and since, but it remains an ultimate high point. Here’s a live version of my favourite song:
If you’d have asked me a couple of years ago, I’d have said Regina Spektor was my favourite artist, full stop. I’m back in guitar band mode ATM, but she remains one of my all-timers. That voice. Ugh. Begin To Hope was another of those albums that had me hooked, day in, day out. It was a deceptively simple piece; a few layers of piano and just enough production, but the details in the writing keep rewarding through repeat listens. Every song is magical, frankly; the opener is a good a place to start as any:
Bat For Lashes
I discovered Natasha Khan’s Bat For Lashes at a time when I was a little unsure of where I was. I was immediately drawn into the dark, complex fairy tale she was telling on Fur & Gold. Natasha also led the way with ‘big’ lo-fi sounds (Florence Welch would steal many of these tricks later) – the production really took me out of the ‘band in a box’ techniques I was using at the time. It’s incredible visual work; I was attracted to the fact that, like me, Natasha had an art college background. She also influenced me in my decision to not release music under my own name. I loved that she called her solo work by a band name; no Bat For Lashes, no Winter Of’82. The Wizard is possibly my favourite track from the album. It’s nocturnal warmth continues to knock me for six:
I promise you, all of these artists are making music on the ultimate level. At their best, they’re as good as it gets.
Stick a fork in me. I’m done.
The wave of Putin memes just gets better.
This made me laugh a lot more than it should.
(Yes he’s an evil fucker. I’m all for taking the piss out of him, frankly)