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Listed: Tenement Halls + Richard Davis

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Tenement Halls and Richard Davis.

Listed: Tenement Halls + Richard Davis

Tenement Halls

Born of what their label (Merge...well, Dan Bejar via Merge) called 'the most underrated American rock ‘n roll band of the 90s' (the Rock*A*Teens), Tenement Halls seems to have a lot to live up to. Tenement Halls is the new project of Singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Lopez, formerly of the aforementioned R*A*Ts, and with the bar set so high by his funders, he has a lot to live up to. Tenement Halls' new/debut record, Knitting Needles & Bicycle Bells (Merge), picks up approximately where Lopez left off with his previous band. His songs are archetypal of the Merge model: good, clean, solid indie rock; no more, no less.

1. Fearless Freaks
Movie about The Flaming Lips. Boy this ranks right up there with Watch Me Jumpstart as an inspiring and life affirming film. It goes beyond rockdoc clichés and presents a story of family, loyalty and luv. Tears were shed through mile-wide smiles at my house. Just wonderful.

2. Yann Tierson and Shannon Wright
I had thee honor of playing drums behind these two at the Transmusicales Festival in Rennes, France. Just unbelievable musical abilities and emotion. They are a pirate ship in the fog. Fabrice, Yann's recording cohort, played the bass. It was an honor just to get to know the guy let alone play with him. I learned 10 songs in 5 days and played 3 consecutive nights - probably the most frightening and rewarding musical experiences of my life. Oh, and got to see Kraftwerk for free!!!!!

3. Fairground Attraction - The First of a Million Kisses
One of thee most romantic records I have ever heard. I think the main songwriter wrote some tunes with Morrissey. Anyway, a perfect record for sitting in the dark with a bottle of Old Crow and realizing a broken heart can be a beautiful thing.

4. Morrissey Live
Saw the old queen and he certainly ain't dead. One of the best shows I have seen in ages - a true star, put on this Earth to make us laugh and cry. The show was loud as hell and his voice was right there - showmanship and great songs from one of the few originals. Long live the queen.

5. Jimmy Page Productions
I have gotten into the habit of turning the balance knob on thee stereo all the way to the right or left. I like to see what they did back in them old days when recording was really something - what got put to the far right and what got put to the far left. Try it some time: it changes songs completely! It's as close to remixing as I'll ever get. Anyway, mista Jimmy Page has some of the best hard pans in the world. "Houses of the Holy," "The Ocean," "Dancing Days," "Down by the Seaside" - just play one side and you got yerself something. Good fun for the poor.

6. Elvis Costello - Get Happy
Speaking of productions, this record has got it all. I would have loved to be sitting next to Nick Lowe when those drunken speedsters recorded this thing. This has got to be in my total top ten of all time. You can read me the riot act.

7. Malkmus
You know, that record Brighten the Corners has some of the most sublime tunes by the Malkmus. I listened to it endlessly for about a month in the winter. I think I borrowed it from one of those people who don't listen to their old college records. Moved on, I suppose. Anyway he wasn't using it so I thought I'd check it out. Speaking of sitting next to someone while they are recording, I wonder what ol' Mitch Easter was doing when this thing got put together? "Starlings on the Slipstream," "Type Slowly," "Transport is Arranged" - those are smooth soundz! I had to get out thee dictionary a coupla times though...

8. Rueben Rueben
Ever see this movie starring Tom Conti? I think it came out at the dawn of the 80's but I am not sure. A great story about waning celebrity-aging, the ego of creativity, alcohol, dentistry and suicide. It's one of those movies I saw 160 times when I was a kid cause the cable just got introduced to our neighborhood. It sticks with me to this day.

9. The Walkmen
There is something about this band that I can't put my finger on. They are known for rocking - as it were — but the slow songs are the ones that provide the mystery. They are connected some how to a tv show, yet most of the songs would scare the shit out of some 14 year old. I played a show with them once in New York and they brought their own upright piano. Did they just roll it down the street? I cant wait to hear what these cats got cookin'.

10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The First Born is Dead
The Bad Seeds' high water mark during their Berlin blues period. I finally got a cd of it at Christmas. It's minimalist explosiveness. Hard pan this'n - wow!

Richard Davis

Richard Davis has been compared by some to Arthur Russell. Rather high praise, but not completely unwarranted. Davis moved from England to Berlin in the late 90's and released Safety in 2002, an excellent dish of contemporary house. Like Russell, Davis manages to balance club music with hushed intimacy. He started worked on Details in 2003, then put it on hold to tour with Swayzak as a guest singer throughout Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Whereas on Safety his singing was sort of creating a wall of sound, on Details he goes a step further and expresses his idea of pop by focusing on his vocals and using rather classic songs-structures. Songs like "Honest," "Sometime" and "Common Sense" show his concrete lyrics and complex arrangements in an impressive way. Read Jon Dale's review here.

1. Love - Forever Changes, 1967
This is a crazy record. The songs are always turning corners and changing direction, sometimes calm with great strings and then becoming driving garage rock, sometimes Latin. And then just great pop songs, but always with Arthur Lee’s bizarre lyrics, a lot of drama and strange titles. “If the people would be the times (or between Clark and Hilldale),” is my favorite track… and title. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but it hardly ever out of the CD player.

2. Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden, 1988
I first got into Talk Talk when they were still a synth-pop band in about 1984, but they really changed over the next four years. In a way this album is really minimal, sometimes the songs seem to disappear altogether. It’s basically Mark Hollis’ extremely fragile guitar or piano and vocals held together with solid but ultra-subtle bass and drums and what sounds like almost random bursts of guitar and Hammond organ. A classic!

3. Devo - Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo, 1978
My favourite band when I was a kid, and I still love their total craziness. The early stuff for me is the best and this album is great. They were included in the UK with punk and new wave but they were really always on the outside, but this album has some amazing punky moments. "Uncontrollable Urge," "Gut Feeling" and "Come Back Jonee" are my faves here.

4. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works Vol. 1, 1993
As I was still listening mainly indie-pop, 60’s music and chanson while house and techno were starting, I discovered it all a bit late, and this was one of the first ambient techno records I bought. I think it’s still a really strong album, I just remember I’d never heard anything like it. Majestic is a good word for it.

5. The Human League - Reproduction, 1979
The single “Being Boiled,” from the League was the first electronic record I ever bought, and the album that followed is amazing. Phil Oakey’s really in your face vocals don’t seem to fit the music but somehow it makes it even better. Really dark in places and occasionally bordering on electro rock ’n’ roll, it’s full of weird minimal pop songs and the strangest version of “You’ve lost that loving feeling” ever.

6. Scott Walker - Scott 4, 1969
A sort of American chanson genius. I first heard the solo albums from Scott Walker in the late 80’s and I’ve been crazy about them ever since. This album contains some of the most wigged-out, trippy orchestral ballads of all time. Scott walkers voice is really amazing and his lyrics are really becoming bizarre, all of this over huge strings, it’s too much.

7. Wamdue Kids - These Branching Moments, 1996
It was a lot of these smooth but pumping house records from Peacefrog that took me away from too much IDM and banging techno . A friend of mine was DJing deep house in about 95 and I just fell in love with the warm sound , the shuffling high-hats and rumbling sub-bass. That and the fact that there was a lot of music or melody in this stuff, meant that it was house only as far as electronic music went, for a long time. This is a really beautiful record.

8. The Only Ones - "Another Girl, Another Planet", 1978
This was the first band that I ever saw live, when I was just a kid in 1978, so that just about lets you know how old I am. This has got to be one of the most perfect pop/punk singles ever. It’s still one of my favorite songs.

9. The Buzzcocks - Another Music in a Different Kitchen, 1978
Classic Punk. Early punk had such lot of melody, there were a lot of great catchy pop songs, just played at 100mph with heavy, distorted guitars. This album got me into the Buzzcocks and I’m still into them.

10. Theo Parrish - "Solitary Flight" 2002
Just one from the 21st Century, but it’s a great single. Theo Parrish has done a lot of great stuff but this is my favorite. Obviously I love the huge string sample and those classic Theo P. drum sounds and bass. I remember listening to this in Kompakt in Cologne after my first album Safety came out and when I heard those strings kick in I nearly fell over.

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