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8 August 2017

Life Is Like A Box Of Records: The Anatomy Of Frank

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The Virginia based folk-rock trio The Anatomy of Frank explore nostalgia, relationships and mortality with the release of their latest album South America, out on 1st September 2017 via Polar Islands.

The Anatomy Of Frank have taken time out of their busy schedule to share their most inspirational tracks for this week’s Life Is Like A Box Of Records…

Radiohead – Let Down

Note: I’m going to list songs that have repeatedly made me cry, because I find these to be the staples of my musical diet. I’ll start with an old classic, Let Down. There’s so much to chew on in this song. The guitar line that recalls a baby’s play chimes, the mumbled lyrics and almost-too-simple melody, the reprise section that comes after the song pretends to be over. 

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Jackson

This is one of those songs, much like Carry The Zero by Built to Spill, that builds emotion out of long passages of little dynamic diversity. We played with these guys a while back and I was blown away by this track—that blissful falsetto note in the chorus gets me every time.

Roley Yuma – Heavenly Hollow

This song hits you like a psychological thriller. It reels you in with its sickness, in which the singer talks about awkward sex and (possily?) abortion, and ends with the most devastating line I’ve ever heard in music: “my stupid parents raised a stupid son.” The song is essentially a six-minute build climaxing around this phrase, with tremendous power in the payoff. I can’t listen to it more than once a year, it’s just that powerful.

Sigur Rós – Vaka (untitled #1)

My older brother once called this the most beautiful chord progression ever written, and I can’t say I disagree with him. The subtlety of Sigur Rós’ untitled album is truly awesome, and this track is the perfect representation of that subtlety. Listen to the tiny sounds crunching and disappearing, the distressed vocals fluttering around you like snowflakes, the strings and the landscape that it evokes. 

Sigur Rós – Popplagið

Two songs by the same artist. Sue me. I can’t not include this, because it almost killed me. I had kind of glazed over this track for a long time, but one night in 2012 I was driving back to my cabin late at night and happened to listen to it all the way through. The climax at the end is so explosive and drawn out that it turned me into a convulsing madman. Long story short, I drove my car off the road because I was so taken by it (I was able to correct it and escape unscathed).

Hop Along – Waitress

I’m a sucker for a good rock scream, and this singer’s voice is up to the task. She is able to alternate between soft and raspy, but there’s an edge to her belting that sounds lustful and destructive. The sweet spot in this song is the lyrics “common kind,” which had me bawling in public in a German train station. So good! 

Left and Right – Harry’s Code

These guys are out of Philly, and when I first saw them perform this track live, I think I might have inadvertently injured a few people around me. There is such amazing power in the hard-hitting guitars, the chorus, and the final screamed section: “I’ve seen tighter lips sink much bigger ships.” I recommend catching them live if you can, they’re fantastic.

Kirk Franklin – At The Altar

I got into this song through my own band, as our old guitarist Erik had a Kirk Franklin CD he’d throw on once in a while on tour. This song features a gospel choir and several spirited solo vocalists, and I have shed many a tear to it while driving down the road alone. Again, it is the build that gets me—but in it I hear pure inspiration, a keen sense of harmonic movement, and the spirit of resilience, creativity, and beauty that is a part of the black experience in America. 

Sufjan Stevens – Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

This bouncy little orchestra fest turns into glistening, glissando-ing ecstasy over the course of its nearly seven-minute run. For some reason, when I heard it in high school, it made me feel as if I were in Sri Lanka (??) and made me get obsessed with that country. Not sure why. But back to the point: it evokes a sense of time and place. The phrase “I cried myself to sleep last night,” so sincere and gentle after the frolicking fun of the first half of the track, really sticks with me. 

Mark Kozelek – Somehow the Wonder of Life Prevails

Mark Kozelek has become a huge part of my inspiration these past few years. I thank Jimmy from my band (as I do for much of my musical taste) for introducing me to him. This particular track dives into touching details of Kozelek’s life: the sudden death of a troubled friend, a fight with his father when he was little, the loss of a friend to cancer, the loneliness of touring, his love for his home city of San Francisco. Over all of it is his strange breed of melancholic happiness, in which he reminds us all that such things are part of what make life so worth living.

The Jezabels – A Little Piece

Go to 2:45 in the video. This is the video that introduced me to the Jezabels, and I think it’s important not only because Danny Macaskill is a god among men, but because their music to me sounds like a distant army approaching over the Scottish highlands. Her voice harkens back to the bravado of the 1980s, and I think she accomplishes something truly important in this song.

South America is out on 1st September 2017 via Polar islands.

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