Melbourne-based band Lowlakes takes us on a tour of their individual record collections. —Ed.
Talk Talk – Laughing Stock | I discovered Talk Talk a couple of years ago and they quickly became the soundtrack to my evenings. I listened to this record most nights for about six months, giving special attention to “After The Flood” and ‘”New Grass.” Mark Hollis’ vocals are really spectacular, but more than this, Talk Talk is a group that uses space really effectively. It’s not so much about how much layering can go on in a song, but how it can be most effective in engaging the listener—something about playing to strengths and cutting out superfluous stuff. In doing this, Talk Talk just take me away. It’s escapism I think, which is corny but also a romantic way of thinking about their music. It’s really special.
The Killers – Hot Fuss | I was in high school when this album came out. My sister bought it after hearing “Somebody Told Me” on the radio, and after stealing it from her room, it pretty much lived in my CD player for the next year. Brandon Flowers’ voice was the thing that most appealed to me—I love(d) how his full-bodied voice breaks into falsetto. On top of that, I think this record is a showcase of great pop songwriting. It has inescapable hooks and words which, especially at that time in my life, sent me with paper and pen to my bedroom to create a story like The Killers.
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm | This revealed itself shortly after my love affair with The Killers. I first heard the single “Helicopter” when playing FIFA with my friends and immediately jumped online to find out more about them. After buying Silent Alarm from the local music store, the next thing I did was buy a delay pedal, which had a profound influence on my songwriting and my taste in music. I think a good measure of an album’s power is its ability to make listeners want to create similar sounds. This was certainly the case with Silent Alarm, and was strongest when I listened to “Blue Light.” This track really moved me; where the Killers’ Hot Fuss made me want to write ambiguous words in epic groovy pop, “Blue Light” attracted me to more candid words and structures.
The National – Boxer | I was at University when I discovered The National and I’ve since seen them live three times. Matt Berninger’s melodies are like nothing I had heard before—captivating in their simplicity and moving in their subtlety. This is complimented by words which convey emotive sentiment without being obvious. I try to write words a bit like that—words that create an environment with symbolism and abstraction. Discovering The National and their record Boxer has informed much about Lowlakes’ music, especially its rhythm and guitar parts. It was a real education in how to captivate people with songs without going over-the-top. It is probably my favourite record of all time.
—Tom Snowdon, Vocals
Slowdive – Souvlaki | One of the most remarkable things about this album, along with the beautifully mysterious ambient textures which the group creates, is how comfortable and sentimental it makes you feel. Something like reminiscing like the feeling of Nanna’s old fireplace gave me on a cold night. Without the Home and Away playing in the background and with Lost in Translation instead.
Swans – Children of God | Perhaps not my favourite Swans album, but the fact that it was so sonically uncompromising had a profound effect on me. The architecture is a combination of opposites; incredibly ugly and beautiful soundscapes, makes either mood that bit more striking. It demonstrated to me the power of musical dynamics in a way that not much else has ever done. And hearing something so dark and disturbing was pretty refreshing.
Radiohead – Kid A | Any record that successfully pulls off ambition as great as what Radiohead did on Kid A is a huge achievement. More than that though, Kid A is incredibly alienating and even more fascinating. The strongest feeling I get from listening to Kid A is how impressive an artistic statement it was for a band, at the top of the world, to release a record so incredibly bizarre and foreign. An artist completely out of their comfort zone, but embracing it completely.
The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed | From an early age, through the help of my parents, I was exposed to the wonderfully raw and dangerous sounds of the Rolling Stones. There is a certain magic on Let it Bleed that these guys probably never quite created again, though it’s hard to identify what that magic is. It has a certain timeless, raunchy coolness to it, but it’s conveyed in such a way that it will always feel relevent. Tracks like “Gimme Shelter” and “Monkey Man” have been a huge reference point for me as a songwriter.
—Brent Monaghan, Guitars
Paul Simon – Graceland | My parents introduced me to some great music on long car trips from Alice Springs to the East Coast of Australia during summer holidays. Graceland is the album I remember best. I have strong recollections of my Dad saying to me from the driver’s seat, “Listen to the great drumming in this one, Jack! Maybe you can try playing along to it when we get home.”
I love the coming together of Western pop music and the African influences, particularly the amazing vocal harmonies, that this album is so famous for.
Broken Social Scene – Feel Good Lost | This album doesn’t have any of BSS’ big catchy pop tunes or rambling sing-along jams. Apart from there being a small amount of layered vocals on the track “Passport Radio,” I think this album is entirely instrumental. It’s one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard because of its lush textures and delicate instrumentation. I spent a lot of time listening to it whilst studying because of its calming qualities. Feel Good Lost was a major catalyst for my love of moody, ambient music.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic | Between the ages of 13 and 15, Red Hot Chili Peppers were pretty much the only band I was interested in listening to: I wanted to play drums like Chad Smith and be as cool as Anthony Keidis. I think that Blood Sugar Sex Magic is their best album. I love the way the rhythm section works together. Flea and Chad Smith can be so understated, yet so complex at the same time. I also appreciate the raw sounds that distinguish this album from their later work.
Joan As Policewoman - Real Life | I was introduced to the music of Joan As Policewoman and her friend Antony Hegarty in 2008, not long before Tom, Bill, and I moved to Melbourne together from Alice Springs. I hadn’t been exposed to a great deal of alternative music before this, but the beautiful quirkiness of these two artists really drew me in, Joan in particular. I like the way her albums seem very personal and honest, and always carry a strong theme throughout. The production on this album is really interesting, and I dig the way she is able to draw on other vocalists, such as Antony to sing particular parts. His vocal performance in “I Defy” is truly something special.
—Jack Talbot, Drums
Blink 182 - Blink 182 | I was a big fan of Blink since their earlier stuff, most of which was pretty immature skater-punk, toilet-humour. But this album has a much more serious tone to it, and I think that’s what began my interest and love for more serious music in general. I also really enjoyed reading all of the information that was included in the album’s cover art about how they went about recording.
I spent a lot of time listening to this band as a teenager (and I still listen to them all the time.) They were part of the reason I wanted to be in a band in the first place.
Fever Ray – Fever Ray | This is the first album whose lyrical content I really appreciated and listened too. Normally I don’t pay much attention to what a singer is actually saying, but I think that the way Karin Andersson puts words together is really clever. For me one of the album highlights is “Seven,” especially its quirky lines “We’d talk about love, we’d talk about dish washer tablets, and we’d dream about heaven.”
Mount Kimbie – Crooks and Lovers | This is a great album from start to finish. I love the organic electronic textures and the way it gives me headspace. I find it really easy to think about things when I listen to it, it’s a bit of a stress releaser. Mount Kimbie was my introduction to alternative electro music, and listening to bands like this lead to myself and the rest of Lowlakes to experiment more with the sounds we were producing.
The Field – Looping State of Mind | The aura that surrounds The Field’s music is really special.I like the repetitiveness of this album, especially the way its songs seem to always be able to find great grooves and stick with them for long periods. The subtle changes are really clever and mean that the tracks, and the album more broadly, never gets boring. I think that Axel Willmer’s bass guitar lines are particularly cool. The bass line in “Is This Power” is probably my favourite.
—Bill Guerin, Bass