From time to time, we ask local musicians for their Top 5 absolute desert-island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week: Mlee Marie Mains, the heart of Hearts of Animals.
BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE, Tighten Up Vol. 88 The songs on this album are like nursery rhymes to me. It is quite possible that my parents spent more time singing (and dancing to) these songs around me than reading to me. Add to it the fact that Big Audio Dynamite was my second concert at the age of five, and upon meeting Mick Jones, he supposedly patted me on the head.
I've been told that at such a tender age, this is a pretty significant transference of energy, which fascinates me because I have always had a deep connection with his music. Don't get me wrong, I love the Clash, too, but Mick Jones has a subtle style that I identify more with than Joe Strummer (RIP).
ELVIS COSTELLO, Spike Truly one of EC's strangest records, however, one of his most brilliant and most nostalgic for me. I remember hearing "Veronica" while I was growing up (the album came out when I was seven) and feeling a rush of ecstasy. That song is actually co-written by Paul McCartney, which may explain a lot. Spike is a quirky blend of light and dark moods, and I think that resonated with me as a child and still does to this day.
CROWDED HOUSE, Woodface One of the quirkiest collections of songs by Neil Finn, one of the most talented songwriters I have come across. A lot of the quirkiness on this album comes from the added fact that brother Tim Finn (of Split Enz fame) was invited to join the band for a brief period. Tim gives the songs that mysterious edge that Neil sometimes misses in his sincerity and candidness.
My parents played the shit out of this album, and the songs are engraved on my brain so also it has to be an influence. Fun fact: I was on the Frenz Forum for a while in college, the only forum I have ever spent any amount of time on. It is for people who obsess about pretty much anything Finn-related, being Split Enz or Crowded House or other side projects. Blush.
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THE BREEDERS, Last Splash I saw them open for Nirvana in December 1993 and I was electrified. Most of my musical influences by this point had been male singer-songwriters. I didn't know that two badass ladies who weren't dressed to pop a boner could rock such subtle yet powerful music. I was infatuated, and I spent the next summer listening to Last Splash over and over and over again.
"No Aloha" made me rethink songwriting and chord structure. "Saints" taught me sugar pop power. "Hag" intoxicated me before I ever imbibed. As a whole, this album was soft and rough and sad and happy and sassy and creepy and lonely and full. Magical if you can pull that off.
JULIANA HATFIELD, Only Everything This album is much simpler than the ones I mentioned before, but mostly what I took from hearing this album (that I rented from the public library after watching that My So Called Life episode [author's note: that fucking episode, man]) was that a girl could rock and still have a petite voice.
Growing up, I was ashamed of my voice at times because it wasn't big and fake like a lot of the women I heard on the radio at the time. The only other woman I previously identified with vocally was Cyndi Lauper, but I soon realized that even she was beyond my range and also maybe I just wasn't that dramatic.
Juliana had a dryness about her that I identified with and once I finally saw her live, I was like okay, this chick is rad. She's in a band with all dudes but she's playing her own guitar solos and riffs and singing, too. And she had this unaffected attitude that I found appealing. As a whole, I found that album charming in a very simple way and I think it helped me write some of my earliest songs.
Hearts of Animals plays Friday, April 3 at the Shop (6922 Harrisburg) with Colleen Green, Upset, Far Out and Get a Life. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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