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. With her debut album set to drop this week, we asked Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf — aka AMBER ARCADES — to name off five underrated tracks that absolutely deserve your attention.
Broadcast – “America’s Boy”
My roommate introduced me to Broadcast a couple of years ago. The first time he played them for me it didn’t really stick. I had a hard time getting into it, but when I finally got it, it was like a revelation. This song (and the record, Tender Buttons) and the way it approaches music and is very minimalist and pure — it really got me thinking about music in a different way. The fact that it is so minimalist just makes all of the other elements extra powerful.
Vox Von Braun – “You Look Real Neat”
When it comes to underrated music, I could list a million different Dutch bands because it’s so hard for Dutch bands to do anything outside of the Netherlands. These guys however are underrated even within the confines of our little country. Probably because they’re from the far north which is kind of an island.
It’s a shame though ’cause they make some of the best tunes! Sweet doo-wop combined with shoegaze-y noise and murmuring vocals. I met the singer through some common friends a while ago and he’s the sweetest dude, too. I’m truly inspired by their drive to keep going and to not really care if the rest of the country picks up on their music or not.
Electrelane – “On Parade”
I actually first heard this song when my friend Shane (Butler) told me about it when we were in the studio recording my album. He used it as a reference to a certain song we were recording. It’s always interesting when people compare your music to that of a band you haven’t heard of — especially when the person making the comparison is someone with an excellent taste in music — so I looked them up when I got home and fell in love straight away. I love how their music feels spontaneous and vibrant and playful. I’ve been listening to them a lot and it has given me a ton of new ideas for my next record.
Ballat et ses Balladins – “Sara ’70”
I came across this tune a while ago through a playlist made by another musician. I love the richness of the melodies that the guitar is putting on top of this jam. Sometimes I get bored with indie rock and everything drawing from the same handful of references. Not that I’m any better, of course. But lately I’ve been trying to broaden my horizon a bit because there’s a million of other musical universes out there to discover! I feel like non-western music is underrated in general, I mean, even just the term “world music” and how it’s treated as a single genre is pretty terrible.
Lotus Plaza – “Strangers”
I love Deerhunter and all of their members’ side projects. Most of my friends who are into them are also into Atlas Sound, but many of them have never heard of Lotus Plaza — Lockett Pundt’s solo endeavor. Which is a shame, because his record Spooky Action At A Distance is one of my all-time favourites. It just felt like an instant classic the first time I heard it. It’s my go-to for when I’m driving some place far away and the sun is going down. His guitar lines are the best in the world. He’s just a huge inspiration.