The Shimmer Band – 5 Albums That Shaped Me

Bristol based ‘The Shimmer Band’ talk us through five albums that shaped their soon. Check out their psychedelic new track ‘Shoot Me (Baby)’ that blends garage guitars and post punk vibes equating in big noise.



Let’s start with undeniably one the greatest achievements in pop history: ‘Pet Sounds’. This album means so much to me on a multitude of musical, cultural and emotional levels. The tracks are so incredibly and beautifully layered with a joyous cacophony of instruments and sounds that are still wonderfully vibrant and awe-inspiring to me to this day. Even the more basic songs on the album such as ‘Sloop John B’ have such intricate arrangements, which always reminds me to never let even the smallest details slip. With such deep emotional depth of melancholy and longing in the songs, this record makes me wanna break my own heart just so I can appreciate it even more…




There’s nothing I love more than wonky pop, and there’s no better place to look for it than on the SFA debut album ‘Fuzzy Logic’. The band show no fear in chopping and changing styles as they please, an attribute I strive for and admire. They blend psychedelia with pop, glam and punk, to create an album that’s animated, eclectic and, most importantly to me…fun! This album is what music should be all about, intoxicating energy filled entertainment that takes you away from reality. All hail SFA!




2001- DR DRE
I can’t think of a better album more appropriate for the midnight hour than Dr Dre’s ‘2001’. Many a night spent going up in smoke with this as the soundtrack to the moonlight. The beats are as fat as a house and the tracks groove along without a care for the outside world. The opening track ‘The Watcher’ is a smokey sure-fire gangsta juggernaught, where we move at Dre’s time and by his watch. There’s an assured majesty and class to this record, one that fills me with confidence and power. I’ve been listening to this album since the day it came out and I still think it’s a beast!




A good friend of mine got me into this album not long after it came out, and at the time I’d never really heard anything else like it. ‘Rounds’ manages to be relaxing and hectic both at the same time, and I’ve always loved it for that reason. Four Tet shows us that any sound or noise can be used in the construction of music, and smashes the box wide open. The track ‘She Moves She’ has minimal beats with ambient acoustic guitars which is all completely contradicted by the rhythmic noise of what sounds like an old malfunctioning computer printer…brilliant! It’s digital and organic, it’s mellow yet jarring, give me the box I wanna smash it too!



Rock n roll should be dangerous, and it doesn’t get more dangerous than this… I first listened to this LP when I was 15, and I haven’t looked back since. Hearing this album for the first time is like having a tooth extracted with no anaesthetic The songs are violent and harsh and have been mixed at an ear-splitting overdriven volume that pre dates the punk rock explosion by 4 or 5 years! It feels like the band are about to implode, I can feel the adrenaline and fire dripping from the tracks. If I can inherit 10% of Iggy’s energy I’ll be happy. “I’m street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm” is the opening line on the album, and what a line it is! Its one of my favourite lyrics of all time! Nothing makes me wanna rip the street-lights out of the ground like Iggy & The Stooges!



Richard Lomax 5 – Albums That Shaped Me

With his new single ‘I Cycle’ due out on Feb 19th, Singer Songwriter Richard Lomax talks us through five of the albums that got him to where he is today and shaped his sound.

1. Forever Changes – Love
To me the absolute holy grail. This has been in the back of the mind of every album I record since I first started writing.
I used have Wednesdays off college and I’d work at my mum and dad’s shop in Essex. Do 8 hours and walk out with £40, straight in Golden Disc record shop across the road. Albums were a fiver in there so I’d walk out of there with 8 albums and no money.
I remember the day I bought Forever Changes. I’d also got Bryter Layter (Nick Drake) and Astral Weeks (Van Morrison). That was a good day. I remember reading the stories about how Arthur Lee had had a premonition he would die the following Summer so he wrote this album. The chord structures in this are just ridiculous! They go EVERYWHERE. My band often describe my songs as ‘chord salads’ and this is definitely where I get it from. There aren’t many 4 chord tricks on this. Those weird little nuances still get me… that bit in ‘The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This’ that sounds like a record skipping, the long string drop in ‘You Set The Scene’ of the B to the F#, and of course that line in ‘Live and Let Live’:
“Well the snot has caked against my pants…”
2. The Love Below – Outkast
This is the album where Andre 3000 really nailed everything to the wall. It’s a huge technicolour sound that wanders everywhere whilst still taking time smash out the pop hits.

The album is obviously best known for spawning ‘Hey Ya’ now and a million bad pub cover versions have diminished its greatness a little but there is way more to the album than that… ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ and ‘Roses’, the swirling strings on ‘Intro’. The piano on ‘Love Hater’, ‘Dracula’s Wedding’, ‘Spread’, pure filth but what great sounding filth. The skits don’t necessarily stand up to the test of time but the music really does.

3. Hunky Dory – Bowie
I recently found out that one of my favourite tracks on this album ‘Fill Your Heart’ was written by Paul Williams (with Biff Rose). Williams also wrote the soundtrack to the musical about children in a brothel ‘Bugsy Malone’. Pop fact of the day.
It’s hard to pick a favourite Bowie album. Him and The Beatles occupy every corner of popular culture with their work and produced so many great albums that I would just stick their entire back catalogues in as two entries of this list if I could (*gasp* You bounder! You cheat!). Hunky Dory is the one I keep coming back to though. There’s a real downbeat nature to this. I like the lo-fi nature of it with its song title announcements and earthy acoustic guitars (Andy Warhol, Quicksand), before the glam of Ziggy took hold. It’s got ‘Life On Mars?’ on it too. Come on.
4. Debut – Bjork
It was while reading a biography of hers that I started listening to Bjork’s music. This album blew me away from the first second of ‘Human Behaviour’ – those downtuned toms (timpani maybe?) coupled to that shuffle create this instant groove and then those synth interruptions are out of nowhere! Again with this the melodies on this album just seem to go anywhere they like.  ‘Venus As A Boy’ is so floaty and unexpected – it’s a real delight. I love that on ‘There’s More to Life Than This’ it sounds like she leaves the session halfway through the song and just goes and sits in the toilets for a bit. Twice.
5. 69 Love Songs – The Magnetic Fields
What do you say when someone writes an album called ’69 Love Songs’ and it is 69 songs about love? Across a variety of genres from showtunes to punk to disco to spoken word to jazzzzzzzzz. The scope and ambition of this album is incredible but its strength is in the little moments. Merritt never lets the epic nature of the whole structure undermine any of the 69 smaller ‘bricks’ that go to build it. The lyrics on this album are some of the finest, bitterest, most pithy, heartbreaking words committed to tape.
“The moon to whom the poets croon has given up and died/astronomy will have to be revised”
“The book of love has music in it/In fact that’s where music comes from”
“Or I could make a career of being blue
I could dress in black and read Camus
Smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth
Like I was seventeen
That would be a scream
But I don’t want to get over you”
“It’s making me blue/Pantone 292”
Special mentions to Dolittle (Pixies), Elephant (The White Stripes), Soft Bulletin (Flaming Lips), Stories From The City… (PJ Harvey), Deserters Songs (Mercury Rev), Guerrilla (Super Furry Animals), Terror Twilight (Pavement), A Different Class (Pulp), 13 (Blur) and every Beatles album. The album is by far and away my preferred artform and you’re an evil, naughty blog for making me choose between so many of my favourite things.

5 Albums That Shaped Us – Xylaroo

London based sisters Xylaroo talk us through the albums that shaped their emotional folk pop sound and themselves. Compare with their track ‘Sunshine’ (Below) and hear how the ages have devloped who Xylaroo are.


1.The Execution of All things – ­ Rilo Kiley

Rilo Kiley is a band we both grew up with. They continue to be a staple in both of our musical diets and though everyone of their albums has certainly shaped us, “The Execution of All Things” is, in our minds, the best of a fine bunch. It’s one of their earliest albums and like so many other bands in their infancy they suggest in it a willingness to be peculiar and to experiment, to be raw and to be intimate. One thing that draws us so closely towards Rilo Kiley is their lyrics. They are dark yet hopeful, always thoughtful and tinged with sadness. They taste bitter sweet and yet accompany in such stark contrast simple, joyous, blissful and even cheerful melodies. ‘A Better Son/Daughter’, which both of us agree to be one of the most hopeful and uplifting songs that we know, is pretty much an anthem to us. It is, in our opinion, a must listen to; especially when you’re having one of those particularly bad days for no good reason at all. Actually, Rilo Kiley is one of the reasons I (Holly) started writing music. I wanted to write songs and to tell stories that resembled the weaving narratives and shifting moods and subject matters of this album. It moves so effortlessly amongst the personal, even mundane observations of the daily grind and yet also rises above it towards the profound and the philosophical.

2.The Con – ­ Tegan & Sara

Although we don’t listen to Tegan & Sarah as much now ‘The Con’ was definitely an album that I (Coco) remember listening to as a teenager on repeat and it certainly influenced our early sound. Being sisters and singing such synchronized harmonies Tegan & Sara inspired us to incorporate more harmonies into our own music, as initially I (Coco) was a little hesitant and shy about singing. It did not come as naturally to me as it seemed to do for my sister. Listening to their sound inspired us to make the most of the similarities of our voices. I think what was really cool about Tegan and Sara and what I love about this album is their piercing and I would say androgynous vocals and also their angsty lyrics. It was cool to hear female singers who were so distinct and different to other female artists I was listening to at the time and that I could relate to. Tegan & Sara was one of the first big concerts I went to, actually on their U.K tour of The Con in 2008, and I remember thinking to myself after the show ­ wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to do that.

3.Pastel Blues – Nina Simone

There is no disputing that Nina Simone is one of the greatest musicians of all time. Everything about her ­ her voice, the way she played the keys, her lyricism and the way she interpreted covers was beautiful. Easily, I (Holly) could have picked any of her albums but decided to stick with Pastel Blues, as it includes some of my favorites and probably her most iconic renditions; “Strange fruit”, “Sinnerman” & “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out”. What I love most about this album and all of her music is her soulfulness ­ you can feel the passion pouring out of her. Her songs have a sense of grandeur about them; she commands your attention and guides you through her songs with a firm and almost tidal urgency. Musicians like her don’t exist anymore, at least not in our generation, she exudes an emotional honesty and intensity which seems to have been lost in this time. ‘Strange Fruit’ is by far the most intense, an amazing song in it’s own right. I’ve never been drawn to Billie Holiday’s version as much. Nina’s is so much darker, so much more understated and so soaked in injustice and pain and anger. If you haven’t already listened to it you should…it’ll send shivers down your spine.

4. ­ Elliot Smith – Either/Or

Between the Bars is definitely one of my (Coco) favorite songs ever and to be honest one of my go to songs when I’m drowning my sorrows; which is probably true in terms of my relationship with Elliott Smith’s music in general and for that I am extremely grateful. What I love about this album and Elliot’s music is the understated unapologetic raw production of it. What I really respect about Elliot Smith is his music, at least to me, doesn’t feel like entertainment or a performance but an outpouring and even sometimes a rambling therapy. His music is sincere and humble and seemed like it was for him more than it was for anyone else’s sake.

5.Tracy Chapman – ­ Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman is an another artist that we grew up with as her debut album was a routine pick from our parents CD collection. I (Holly) remember listening to the songs on that album over and over again. I loved every one of them and still do today. Tracy Chapman is the kind of musician that is not afraid to be serious and political or to tackle controversial and somber subject matter. She tells human stories with an unromantic realism delving hard into domestic violence in “Behind the wall” or the racial tensions and segregation that still pervades the “Backstreets of America.” In this album she shows how she is not afraid to make her audience feel uncomfortable or to make them think. I reckon her music influenced the subject matter of our songs quite a bit, especially her serious tone. However, despite this seriousness her music is also uplifting and empowering, it is earthy, humble and raw. There is a whole lot of hope and love in songs such as “Talkin bout a revolution” or “Baby can I hold you Tonight.” Her voice is also incredibly distinct and somewhat androgynous. The uniqueness of her voice makes a Tracy Chapman song instantly recognisable. Like her voice, this album is certainly one of a kind, a diamond in the rough.


5 Albums That Shaped Me – Lucky T Jackson

Josh Goddard of Manchester Retro Guitar Band Lucky Jackson Talks Us Through The Albums That Shaped Him.




Mixing guitar pop, soulful vocals and an R&B edge, Lucky T Jackson are certainly making an impression with they stunningly cool style and retro sound. Front man Josh Goddard takes us through some of the albums that shaped his sound.



Otis Redding -Otis blue

This Album I think is one of the best of all time. Otis Redding is one of my favourite singers – he sounds like he’s crying when he’s singing (in a good way) which makes you feel like he means every single word. This album in particular has a few covers which I think are as good or maybe even better than the originals. He sings two Sam Cooke songs (another inspiration) ‘Wonderful World’ and ‘Change Is Gonna Come’. He puts his own take on these slowing them down and adding vocal ad libs and runs everywhere. He also covers ‘My Girl’ made famous by ‘The Temptations’ which in my opinion is better than the original. Not only does he smash these songs other people have already made famous he had plenty of his own on the album that are some of the best songs of all time – ‘I’ve been loving you too long’ for example. The soul man – gone too soon





Oasis – Definitely Maybe 

This was the album that got me into being in a band. My older brother used to play it and I used to sing along pretending to play my electric guitar. Eventually I learnt to play loads of Oasis songs, I think everyone in Manchester learns to play guitar covering oasis tunes. although soul and Motown is my passion, when an Oasis song comes on it makes me smile – reminiscing of 18 year old me in 42s with two doubles vodka Redbulls with my best mates going mental to rock and roll star.



Graceland – Paul Simon

This is a massive inspiration to all of us in the band… I grew up being forced to listen to Paul Simon in the car by my dad and back then I didn’t understand it and just wanted to hear Shaggy and Ja Rule – what an idiot. Graceland in particular has some great tunes on it – Graceland itself has one of my favourite lyrics of all time in there “loosing love is like a window in your heart, everybody sees your blown apart, everyone sees the wind blow” being made even better by an out of this world melody. The fact Paul Simon got the band he did to record and tour with the album makes it all even better – it just shows there are amazing musicians out there that haven’t been noticed and have never made a career out of music when they deserve nothing less. There are lots of examples like this around Manchester, people who I have played with that are mind blowingly talented and need to be 10 million times more recognised.




Spencer Davis group – Their first LP

Stevie Winwood is probably my main inspiration – white guy with so much soul. People who don’t know think some of the songs are sang by an old black guy from America but no it’s a white boy from Birmingham. His voice is amazing and he plays piano/organ like Ray Charles and guitar like Clapton. ‘My Babe’ comes in with an amazing guitar lick then sweet harmonies from the band followed by an outrageous screaming soul vocal from Winwood which really shows he’s got one of the best soul voices of all time. ‘Dimples’ – wrote by John Lee Hooker another song that Winwood made his own and the band changed it to a jangly blues. I went to see him recently and he’s still got it.



The Beach boys – The Beach Boys Today!

Today this is my summer driving album. Me and my mate used to just drive around with all the windows down in my Morris Minor thinking we were surfers from the 60s. Everyone song makes you smile and wanna go talk to pretty girls. Not only does this album have the massive dance hits like ‘Help Me Rhonda’ and ‘When I Grow Up To Be a Man’ but it’s got slower more intricate tracks like ‘I’m so young’ and ‘she knows me to well’, which in a hungover state my make you shed a tear. The sound they managed to get on the guitars by doubling up the same riffs was so original and never been done before and that I think with the harmonies makes the beach boys.



5 Albums That Shaped Me – Lois


Madrid’s Own Lois Talk Us Through The Albums That Shaped His Roots and Helped Create His Lo-fi Pop sound. The New Project From The Trajano Guitarist/Vocalist Is Draped In Retro Roots And Captivating Licks:


Talking Heads – Remain in Light:

I’m a big fan of Talking Heads. It’s probably the strangest thing I’ve heard in my life and it works so damn right that fills my body with envy and admiration. I don’t hear this album quite often but every time I do I can’t stop finding new things or getting amazed by the thousand of little weird things happening at the same time. It’s my very favorite album. And also the very favorite album of some really good friends. Once in a while someone mentions it and we can spend hours talking about it, we’re not the funnest guys in the world… But you know, we’re musicians.
Mac Demarco – 2:
When I was in college a friend told me that he had discovered this weird rock singer that sounded like 80’s, jazz and Eric Clapton all together. So I had to hear it. To be fair this friend recommended me the EP but for some reason I wasn’t able to find it online so I heard the LP. Instant love. Also was the key to discover Homeshake, which has made my top album of the year, Midnight Snack…
Jamiroquai – Travelling without Moving: 
The first album I bought, I can’t remember exactly how old I was. But what I do remember is that my grandfather gave me and my cousin some money and for some reason we stopped at a record store. We barely had money to buy an album and even less to buy a new one. So we went to the cheap cds and in the middle of boring spanish folklore there was two Jamiroquai albums. We didn’t know at the time what it was but it looked so much cooler than anything else in the store, so we bought it. I Still have the same feeling that when I heard it for the first time. Spend a lifetime had change my perception of music.
The Police – Regatta de Blanc:
My father used to buy albums by mail. A lot of albums. Fucking tons of albums. Too many albums for a healthy person. Later on lost interest and started to give them away in birthdays and christmas to my cousins, we are a very big family. And by now there is almost no CDs in my parents home.
Coming back to the story, this company once in a while send some free compilations to their best costumers. So they sent a lot of shit tapes to my home. And in the middle of that filth there was Sting and his friends. I would really love to say that changed the way I think about percussion but I don’t think it’s true. It probably affected to the way I make bass lines.
Later I discovered Zenyatta Mondatta (what a cool names for albums, isn´t?) and I finally surrendered to Police.
The Strokes – Is this It:
I don’t think that I’ve never got really interested in making music without listen Is this It. I learnt to play almost every song of this album, poorly I have to say. Spend hours in train stations, waiting for girls, travelling or lying on the beach listen to this wonder. And most of all make me want to start a band so bad that ruined my life (I’m joking, but more or less is accurate).
It changed the life of all my old friends, because I left them. I realised how lame they were and went to find new friends, friends that love this album as much as I do. haha

5 Albums That Shaped Me – False Advertising

Manchester Noise Pop Rising Stars False Advertising Take Us Through Five Albums That Shaped Them And Their Upcoming Debut Album.

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Manchester trio False Advertising have a lot of people making a lot of noise in the build up to their debut due out in September, but they took the to talk about what albums influenced them and the creative process. From what these albums taught them to how they shaped the band, check out five albums that shaped false advertising.

Reuben – Racecar is Racecar Backwards
Jen: Hearing this when I was a teenager helped me to understand that catchy melodic hooks can thrive alongside loudness, distortion and rhythmic complexity. 
The combination and contrast between these things makes for super contagious songwriting (at least for me), and thusly this album helped me to become a bit of a Reuben mega-fan in the mid to late ‘00s. In fact, you can spot a 16 year old me in the opening seconds of the video for their goodbye single.
Before discovering this, albums like The Colour and The Shape by Foo Fighters, Pinkerton by Weezer and Infinity Land by Biffy Clyro had helped steer me down this songwriting track. Which I’m fairly sure is a huge part of why our songs sound the way they do.
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
Jen: I first heard this when Chris and I were in the early stages of writing our album. You could say that Major Arcana – which had a lot of the elements that I’d sought for our sound acted as a bit of an ‘inspiration catalyst’, which no doubt made it’s mark on the songs that we’ve written. Especially when it comes to song structure and guitar playing.
Chris: Yeah, I’m not sure how much it consciously influenced me, but it definitely had an effect as we were listening to it at the time. I have to say, Sadie Dupuis’ Lyrical prowess is enviable, which in the very least inspired me to try harder as it’s probably the weakest link in my chain.
Josh : The interplay between the guitar and vocals really clicked with me – it’s so infectious.  But more importantly, it also drew my attention towards how the rhythm section can set such a strong foundation for all that jagged melody to sit over.
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
Jen: Sick songs, sick drumming, PERFECT fuzz guitar tone. 
Over a number of years I’ve put hours and hours into finding my own version of the thick fuzz tone that Corgan uses across this album, never really ever getting anywhere close. Mid-way through our recording process, I was in my flat playing my tiny practice amp with some fuzz pedals and out of no-where I manage to achieve what we’ve now come to know as ‘dream tone’.
It’s not quite the same as Corgan’s version (obviously), but it gave us a great starting point for the guitar tones we use. Queens of the Stone Age would be the other band I’d reference that helped shape our approach to tone in general.
Brand New – Daisy
Chris: It took me a little while to get into Daisy, but that’s what I love about Brand New, every album is a clear evolution from the last so your mind kinda needs to adjust. Its in-your-face production which makes a feature of compression really inspired me when we started to make our album. Particularly when it comes to the drum sound, it’s sorta trashy sounding and uses a lot of distortion on the vocals too. Another thing that has always been very important to me is how faithful you can be to your own music live, I didn’t think Brand New would be able to pull off the first track “Vices” for example, but when I saw them play it live it had the same raw, disjointed, energetic and emotional release. Parts that sounded ad-libbed or off the cuff were faithfully reproduced.  In the same vein as Brand New, we’ve always stuck to three instrument parts on record so we can stay true to our sound when you come and see us. Hopefully giving you the best experience possible.
Incubus – Morning View
Jen: We all bloody love this album, while we all have a soft spot for the nu-metal of 2001 ish, Incubus were just miles above their peers at the time.
Chris: It’s a freekin masterpiece. It might not be their most progressive as it’s quite poppy, but it’s very complete and in my opinion the pinnacle of their originality. “Are You In” has one of the nicest sounding drum recordings I think I’ve ever heard. This inspires me mostly in the sense that I can’t believe it exists, it’s actually amazing to me how good it is and what a band can be capable of. Josh: Man, this album  – I could talk about it all day . Vibe, production, dynamics,  tone, lyrics, musicianship, It’s got everything.  I remember when I first started playing bass, listening to Alex Katunich’s bass playing evolve from a slap / technical style – to a more subtle approach in Morning View opened my eyes. It’s helped me to be more restrained and supportive in my own bass parts to the song as a whole.

5 Albums That Shaped Me – Liam McClair

Manchester Based Acoustic Singer Liam McClair Tells Us About How These 5 Albums Influenced Him and His Sound.

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Liam McClair talks us through five albums that shaped him as an artist in anticipation of his new EP ‘Honest’, released September 28th. Grab tickets to the launch show at Manchester’s Gulliver’s here.

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Carry On Up The Charts – The Beautiful South (1994 Go! Discs)

This album was my first exposure to music, my sisters and I would sit for hours watching the VHS version with all the videos and the CD the soundtrack to all my lifts as a child. I initially loved it as the songs were very memorable and as most of the tracks have a distinct theme or story My Book being a reflective satire on celebrity culture and exaggeration and Old Red Eyes Is Backweaving you through a tale of an old drunk who’s story runs a little deeper than first imagined, a great example of judgment. When I revisited the album I realised that not only the structure of the tracks was brilliant but also the lyrics, so much so that it led to a family sing-song whenever it was played. As a singer songwriter, this album has examples of a wide variety of songs from piano ballads like Let Love Speak Up Itself and I’ll Sail This Ship Alone, to rock fueled guitar tracks 36D  and slower folk based songs with gentle guitar melodies such as Prettiest Eyes and Little Time. My Favourite song on the album is the opening track Song For Whoever it evokes great memories of knowing every single word and beat with my family. This album showed me the importance of memorable and catchy music through honest and intelligent lyrics.

The Bends – Radiohead (1995 Parlophone)

My Mum used to play this album so often that we had 3 different copies so wherever she was she could listen to it! It’s a fantastic piece of work and one of my first pieces of exposure to electric guitars and overdrive being used.  Just, My Iron Lung, Bones and Street Spirit all are fantastic tracks and I find them to be totally unique. It’s loud, archaic and bold at times but charming all the while. Then High and Dry, Nice Dream, Fake Plastic Trees and Bullet Proof all helped in my understanding of the acoustic guitar and also of how it fits into a band and what band arrangements work well. This album provides escapism.  Whenever I hear it I get lost in it and Thom Yorke is just incredible, some of the vocals on the album are extraordinary as well as Johnny Greenwood’s versatility and invention.

Blue – Joni Mitchell (Reprise, 1971)

I was first struck by the artwork of this album and I found it very intriguing. I first listened to it when my Mum and I were tackling traffic in Lancaster on our way to Scotland. We ended up being stuck in traffic for hours and listened to the whole album 3 times. Listening to this was one of the first times I remember being struck by lyrics and turn of phrase. The expressive nature of each song takes you in and you want to hear what’s next after every line. Old Man and All I Want are the two opening tracks and 2 of my favourites, Joni Mitchell writes love songs which are very honest and their content rings true that is why they are even more engaging than most. River is a fantastic song and has a Christmassy feel to it, her soaring vocals rise and fall through every possible range with ease and her guitar playing is totally unique and this makes her instantly recognisable. My favourite song on the album is A Case Of You, a warm and sentimental love song that expresses so clearly and so obviously how we all have felt about infatuation and desire. It makes me wish I had written it every single time I hear it.

An Awesome Wave – Alt-J (Infections Records, 2012)

This album was the soundtrack to my time at University. I first heard the album from Spotify, it completely blew me away. A totally new sound which was more addictive than anything else I had ever heard, so much so that by now I have listened to each track well over 100 times. It is a fantastically innovative album using samples and effects which I have never heard in anything else before. Joe Newman has a brilliantly unique vocal sound which lilts and crashes through every song.  Breezeblocks was the first love of the album, but Tesselate, Taro, Something Good, Ms, Dissolve Me I could list them all, really captured me and I couldn’t listen to anything else. It’s so diverse making you want to dance, shout, cry, laugh there are brilliantly soaring sections of happiness and sombre reflective almost psychedelic songs. When  I was listening to this song I had first decided to give music a real go and the way this album is bold, charismatic innovative, nonconformist but still popular and successful has proved hugely inspiring for me to do things my way and to feel confident in your own creations. My Favourite track, Ripe and ruin, is really basic as a duet but the harmonies are so intriguing and encapsulating I just cannot help but sing along. The lack of instrumentation on the track gives it a hauntingly atmospheric feel that provides even more impetuous on the importance of the lyrics and what they are.

Sweet Baby James – James Taylor (Warner Bros 1969)

After buying a record player in my second year of University, I found this album in a charity shop. From the moment the needle dropped I was totally taken in and would play the album over and over, switching from side 1 to side 2. When I was listening to this I was writing the songs that went on to feature on my first EP How and the chords used and the finger picking style opened up a brand new area of writing. I find that this album provides the perfect mix of relaxing but melodic music. You can sing along at the top of your voice or have in gently on in the background. I love the various elements of different genres which crop up through the album, Steamroller is a satire on the huge boom of blues songs in London at the time that Taylor arrived and it’s a fantastic song. Sunny Skies and Country Road are well structured and are really easy on the ear with a fantastic verse and chorus.  Fire and Rain and Sweet Baby James are the two biggest tracks on the LP and they provide a wonderful narrative into parental relationships and a feeling of heartache respectively, My favourite track is Country Road

5 Albums That Shaped Me – Little Racer

Our favorite New York surf rockers ‘Little Racer’ give us the five albums that have shaped their career so far.

Little Racer unnamedLittle Racer give us an in-depth look at the albums that made them the band they are. One of New York’s finest rock bands take us through how some of their favorite albums influenced and shaped the. Catch Little Racer at their record-release show at Union Pool in Brooklyn, NY 7/17.

Weezer | ​The Blue Album

Sometimes it’s hard to gauge an albums greatness when it’s first released. Staying power and classic status need time to be revealed. Will those hooks still get you ten years later? 20? So many albums fall from favor over time, but this is an album I knew the moment I first heard it that it was something I needed. It was geeks kicking ass, getting the hot girl and weirding out the jocks, and it’s as catchy and powerful as pop as ever been – ­ Elliot

Broken Social Scene | ​You Forgot It In People

What a record. I could ramble on about production, diverse songwriting, and artistry for days, but I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you how this album transformed my friends van (had the best sound) into a place where new sounds and genres were being invented, and there were no limits to creativity. I can recall Kid A changing my ear in the same way, but with less human connection. On You Forgot It In People, I could feel all 12+ band members breathing life into the material, and with Newfeld’s masterful hand at the production wheel it all blended together to create an experience that won’t be repeated for me. Who knows if I heard it for the first time today if it would strike with the same impact, but I do know that the experience this album gave me is one that I would like to give to a younger generation – ­ Elliot

Belle and Sebastian | ​If You’re Feeling Sinister

I heard this record six years after it was made because the coolest girl at my high school played it for me. I had developed a very obvious crush on her, and she finally asked me to help her take some of her larger art pieces home. At her house she suggests we get ice cream and so she needs to change into a sundress. She puts this record on while i wait. It could be that it was the perfect soundtrack to having a high school crush, or that i had never really heard this side of indie rock before, but If You’re Feeling Sinister is what i want the rest of my life to sound like – ­ Ish

Oasis | ​(What’s The Story) Morning Glory

1996 was a great year for music ­ pop, grunge, r&b ­ but Oasis was the band that just blew me away. It was right around the time I was really discovering music on my own. The volume and power and shear attitude of this record against everything else that was popular at the time completely molded my idea of what music could be and the transformational power it can hold. Standing in front of a mirror pretending to be Noel on guitar, sauntering around my bedroom & striking Liam’s signature pose, belting out Morning Glory. I find myself coming back to this record when I need a pick­ me­ up or a bit of inspiration – ­ Wade

The Strokes | ​Is This It

If you’re in an indie rock group, old enough to remember 2001, and you don’t name this record as one of the main reasons you’ve dedicated yourself to being a musician, you’re lying. It was more than a record, it was a movement. The growl, the wildly tight rhythm section, the aggressive guitar interplay all shrouded in pop sensibilities. This record hit when the world was obsessed with Limp Bizkit, Korn, and N*SNYC. The first time I heard it, I thought my friend was crazy. I was definitely a late bloomer with this one, but this record slowly crept up on me until I was completely overcome with obsession. It was about the time I started teaching myself guitar ­ I learned every riff I could from this record. I wrote ripoff songs that, I wanted to be the Strokes. You either loved the band or loathed them, and I definitely dove in headfirst –  ­ Wade

5 Albums That Shaped Me – Landmarks: Brad Shea.

Landmarks front man Brad Shea talks about the five albums that helped shaped him so far in his career .

Brad Shea Cover
Pictured: Landmarks Front Man Brad Shea

When Shoplifters Union asked me to compile a list of 5 albums that ‘shaped me, I was more than up to the challenge. I began to rack my brain and delve into my iTunes library, and beyond, to try and whittle it down to just 5 and this list is the outcome. Some of these albums weren’t made by my favourite bands, some of them aren’t even my favourite albums, hell, one of them I don’t even listen to anymore, but they all played a huge part in my life whether it be inspiring my own song writing with Landmarks or just opening my ears to a whole new world of music. I hope you enjoy my choices, some of them may even surprise you, and find something you might have missed when it was first released. Thanks for reading!


Taking Back Sunday: Tell All Your Friends/Where You Want to Be (Victory Records, 2002/2004)

It’s not surprise to see these albums on this list because Taking Back Sunday are my favourite band of all time. I love all of their albums (yes, even New Again) and I hope they continue to make records as the years go by. The first TBS album I heard was Louder Now in 2006, which I also love, and the songs on that record left me wanting more, so much more. I went back and listened to their two previous releases which floored me. Everything I loved about Louder Now was present but the raw emotion on Tell All Your Friends really added to their sound whereas, in my opinion, Where You Want to Be features Taking Back Sunday’s best written songs, One Eighty By Summer being my all time favourite. I can’t pick which of these two albums I like more as every song on each of them is incredible and so for that reason I have to credit them both.

Fall Out Boy: From Under the Cork Tree (Island Records, 2005)

When Sugar, We’re Going Down was first released, I wasn’t completely sold on Fall Out Boy. I thought the song was catchy but nothing special and so I wasn’t interested in listening to the album. My sister, however, used to play it almost religiously in our house and as I started to hear the songs more I started to realise what the fuss was about. Now, it’s one of my favourite albums of all time which contains absolutely no filler. Every track is a perfectly crafted pop song at it’s core, even my favourite song I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy which is the albums heaviest moment, and Patrick Stump’s powerhouse voice belting out Pete Wentz fantastic lyrics (which have declined in quality since their comeback) is hard to beat. It’s a must for any fan of pop punk.

The Academy Is…: Almost Here (Fueled by Ramen, 2005)

When I was younger, Fueled by Ramen absolutely killed it with every release. Fall Out Boy’s debut album Take This To Your Grave was released by FBR in 2003, and was equally as brilliant as From Under the Cork Tree, and I could also list Paramore’s All We Know Is Falling and Panic! At The Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out as other albums which influenced me while growing up but instead, I chose to include the debut album from The Academy Is… for one simple reason: they were my favourite FBR band. There, I said it. Almost Here is a fantastic album which was overshadowed by the other FBR releases which also came out in 2005 (see above) and that borders on criminal for me. William Beckett may not have had the power in his vocals that Patrick Stump did or the range of Hayley Williams but he had charm and charisma when he sang on songs such as Seasons and Slow Down. They were a young band who unfortunately never lived up to the promise of this album on their later releases (although I do enjoy both Santi and Fast Times at Barrington High) and I think it’s a shame that many younger people these days may have never heard them. The album is 10 tracks and 32 minutes long. Listen to it at least once and realise what you may have missed back then.

My Chemical Romance: Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (Reprise, 2004)

My Chemical Romance got a lot of hate when they released The Black Parade in 2007 but there was already people shooting them down when they released this gem in 2004. Many thought their songs were controversial, themes of death and even prison rape had people crying out for others to abstain from listening to the band but it was hard to deny the brilliance of Three Cheers. The band had confidence in these 13 tracks and rightly so, each song is a story penned, and brilliantly delivered, by Gerrard Way and they all hold up over 10 years later. I Never Told You What I Do for a Living brings this album to a perfect close, and still stands as my favourite MCR song, as Way delicately sings ‘…they gave us two shots to the back of the head and we’re all, dead now,’ which sums up the emotional weight of the previous 12 tracks perfectly. This album is a masterpiece despite what the naysayers and the bands critics had to say at the time of it’s release.

Evanescence: Fallen (Wind Up/Epic, 2003)

This is a bit of a curveball compared to the other albums on this list. Truth be told, I haven’t listened to this album in a long time but when it was released in 2003 I had it on repeat constantly. I was introduced to Evanescence by the film Daredevil (thankfully erased from my memory by the awesome Netflix TV show) and they were the first rock band I got in to. They took me away from G-Unit (look them up, kids) and rap and set me on a different path. If it wasn’t for this band and this album, I’m not sure I’d even be where I am today in terms of my own attempts to make a career in music. Bring Me to Life was a great first single but the album tracks themselves, such a My Last Breath, were fantastic, atmospheric and almost cinematic in scope. Though the band are no longer a part of my iTunes library, I owe a lot to Evanescence and this album. Say what you will but Amy Lee had a voice that was unrivalled by anyone else in rock at the time and Fallen used that and turned them into one of the biggest bands of the early 2000s. I guess the only thing I can say is thank you, Evanescence, for ensuring that I discovered guitar driven music at a young age and leading me to where I am today.

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