In short, Essentials is a segment that allows artists to put down their gear and divulge about a specific topic, giving their fans and the like the chance to connect with their various interests and inspirations. It’s just unlike any other listicle feature, we’re totally okay with things getting weird and/or uncensored. Having released a new LP, we asked the dream pop duo MEMORYHOUSE to discuss their favourite songwriters of all-time. In this case, Evan Abeele’s five picks are a couple of classic no-brainers.
I grew up in a Springsteen house, and like many youths, my natural inclination was to reject what my parents were listening to. It wasn’t until university when I finally did a deep dive into Springsteen’s catalog that I finally understood for myself why The Boss is The Boss. I’ve always loved how that works; those indelible experiences that don’t present themselves until you’re truly ready to find them, and after which, you question how you ever managed to go a moment without them.
For instance, there’s “Something In The Night” — “Nothing is forgotten or forgiven when it’s your last time around/ I got stuff running ’round my head that I just can’t live down”. I mean, did Kylo Ren just Force choke me? I can’t breathe. To this day, I still can’t listen to that song without feeling exactly 100% of the feels.
It’s funny, what with the God, Kurt Cobain, having firmly slain the great gospel jest known as “hair metal”, and then four months after he died, in precisely the same sound font, you’ve got Rivers Cuomo hosting sermons in his garage for Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Where was Rivers Cuomo on April 7th? Is this Revenge Of The Nerds: Grunge Academy?
Like many, I have Windows 95 to thank for my introduction to Weezer. It also helped that I was kind of going through a Happy Days phase at the time. You know how eight-year-old boys are. Joanie. Loves. Chachi. The Blue Album made me want to learn guitar and write songs about the things that I love, only to become emo and write about the things I didn’t love. Thanks Pinkerton.
The English Beat
I was a classicist in high school. I loved The Skatalites and Desmond Dekker’s sound which experienced a pretty awesome renaissance in the ’90s thanks to third wave legends like Hepcat and The Slackers who I’d flock to see anytime they played the small college town I grew up in. They were too cool though — laid back, talented, and smooth. I needed a ska band that properly reflected my sub-optimal musicianship and my “awkward suburban white kid” image.
That’s why The English Beat were perfect even though they’re kind of like every opening band, ever. They’re good, but also not great? They’ve got some fresh hooks, but they also can’t play their instruments very well? This is another one of those situations where a band comes along and they fit where you’re at mentally or emotionally and you just have this lukewarm-to-heavy fling with them for a short time. But when it’s over, no one’s feelings are hurt. I’ve been pretty hard on The English Beat, but they’re good because they’re The English Beat. High school band practice was never the same.
It took me just a little bit longer to fully embrace Kanye as “The Greatest Genius That Ever Lived”. The College Dropout had my curiosity, but Late Registration held my attention. It was a masterpiece of Kanye maximalism, bolstered by Jon Brion, who imparted not only the presumptive grand cinematic scope, but also a lot of thoughtful texture and refinement. Is it Kanye’s most human-sounding album? Actually, yes. With “Roses”, “Hey Mama”, “Addiction”, and the exceptional “Heard ‘Em Say”, there was a level of exposure to Kanye and the album itself.
Kanye was responsive and he was impassioned, and I mean, look, he still very much is. The Life Of Pablo is 50 per cent genius and maybe 50 per cent WTF, but you just can’t get to him anymore. His life is a Twitter Feed and some weirdly manicured paparazzi photographs. I love him, and with three o’s (“looove”), but this era of Kanye’s public image feels like a weird, distorted feedback loop of previous rants. The genius is there, it always will be, but is he even having fun anymore? Is anyone?
From Merriweather Post Pavilion to all the bands that ripped off Merriweather Post Pavilion, just about every indie bro has a compelling Pet Sounds story. I was a big Beatles fan in high school — you know, after the whole ska thing didn’t work out — and they were vocal about how influential Pet Sounds was. But c’mon, the old dudes from Full House? The dorks that sang “Kokomo” and “I Get Around”? Oh my lanta. Still, I gave in at the time. I had to know more.
And I did. That overly sentimental, gooey, liminal state between yourself and adulthood — that’s Pet Sounds. I was 16 when I heard it and like every 16-year-old, I sucked, and Pet Sounds was the quintessential coming-of-age album for me. It’s everything, like did Kanye go back in time and secretly co-write Pet Sounds? How else did it up end up being so perfect?