Playlist: R.E. Seraphin

R.E. Seraphin was a staple in the Austin music scene for years, even working with ATH Records own Mean Jolene…but, life led him out to California where he’s just released a really wonderful new collection of songs: Tiny Shapes. I reached out to Ray to see if he’d be willing to share a playlist of tunes that influenced his latest release…and he kindly obliged. After the jump you’ll get 10 songs that helped R.E. Seraphin make a great new record. And if you’re so inclined, go grab a copy from Paisley Shirt Records!

1. The Feelies – Lets Go

On Tiny Shapes, I tried to move toward simple arrangements and folksy instrumentation, like slide and acoustic guitar. I take a lot of inspiration from The Feelies, who typically loop an idea or two for an entire song and make the most out of a few lines and a couple guitars. K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid).

2. The Stray Trolleys – Governors Only Daughter

Im a huge Martin Newell fan, so I couldve gone with any of his projects (Cleaners From Venus, Brotherhood of Lizards, etc.) for this entry. That said, this pre-Cleaners album is severely underrated a glimpse at Newell had he pursued a full band sound. He has a way of making songs sound slapdash when, in actuality, theyre packed with so many ideas that you can uncover new details on every listen. This song features one of his most ebullient choruses.

3. The Go-Betweens – Bye Bye Pride

Most associate The Go-Betweens with Robert Forster, but Grant McLennan wrote their most enduring songs IMO. His lyrics are simultaneously literate and homely, dark and uplifting. In particular, I like that he never shied away from writing about the insidious parts of romance (this song, at times, evokes eye gouging and drowning at sea). Also, what other songwriter can write about mangroves and pull off an oboe solo? (A: none other).

4. Jesus & Mary Chain – Everybody I Know

A rare William Reid vocal. Admittedly, Im asthmatic and my voice is pretty limited, so I try to incorporate some of Williams soft sneer at the mic. I love the dynamic of this song its almost as if the Reid brothers forcibly joined two different tunes (an apt metaphor for their relationship). The elegant collapse of the outro is what makes the song for me. Everybody I know wants to die, indeed.

5. The Dream Syndicate – Tell Me When Its Over

This song is ramshackle to the point of nearly falling apart, but held together by an indelible guitar hook. Psychedelic in its wooziness, this is music made by English majors back when they took quaaludes instead of adderall. Many early punk records on Slash and SST sound like they were thrown together in a few days. I tried to achieve that sound on Tiny Shapes by limiting the band to three practices. I’d like to think it worked.

6. Dick Diver – Waste the Alphabet

Had to include one song made in the previous decade. Dick Diver are the egalitarian ideal of a band: everyone writes and sings their own songs. While I am technically solo, I usually love that approach and it works perfectly in the capable hands of Dick Diver. This song is buoyant, winsome, and flawless everything I aspire to when I write.

7. The The – Uncertain Smile

Since apparently I only listen to bands with articles in their names, why not include a song by a band with the most articles in their name? This couldve been a massive 80s hit. Sensing this, singer Matt Johnson seemingly sabotaged himself by including an interminable piano solo and some grotesque lyrics about rescuing a lover from a pool of sweat. Turns out, thats just what this song needed. I listen to this song a lot when Im walking alone at night.

8. Lee Hazlewood – Id Rather Be Your Enemy

I get a lot of enjoyment by re-interpreting other peoples songs right now. I kept hearing this song as a Ramones-esque buzzsaw pop song, so I tried to execute that on Tiny Shapes. Hazlewood is the master of economy no song is too short or too spare for him. I love that he knows when to end an idea.

9. Television – Days

The unfairly maligned Adventure is the Television album I listen to the most. Its a tight, succinct pop record and Days may be the most complete pop statement they ever made. The guitar interplay on this song is gorgeous and the lyrics are trademark Verlaine phantasmagoria.

10. The Lemonheads – Being Around

Evan Dando composes brisk, airy pop songs better than anyone. The lyrics to this one are so naive and childish (if I were a booger, would you blow your nose) that you can overlook how affecting the sentiment is. A basic, universal idea everyone wants to be loved tenderly expressed in under two minutes.

Bonus:

11. The dBs – Neverland

12. Luna – Chinatown

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