“my first record” by dave littrell of the deep hollow | perspective

“my first record” by dave littrell of the deep hollow | perspective

If there is one thing we can learn from Shawshank Redemption, it is this: we have to either get busy living or get busy dying. Americana trio The Deep Hollow are firmly planted in the former. Through their sophomore record, Weary Traveler, Micah Walk, Liz Eckert and Dave Littrell dig into this sorrowful life of getting older, longing for a stable home and the sometimes unbearable weight of the open road. Sonically, the band fits somewhere between the pulse of Patty Griffin and John Prine and the adventure of Jason Isbell, The Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile. Below, Dave Littrell shares the story of his first musical experiences and how they shaped him as a musician. 

Growing up, like many, our home was filled with music.  It seemed like the radio was always on, a record or cassette was always playing, or a music video was always on our TV.  After all, I am most definitely a product of the MTV generation. When Sting sang “I want my MTV!” in the introduction to “Money For Nothing,” his declaration was powerful and something this 7 year old could rally behind!

I am so grateful to have grown up in a home where music wasn’t just entertainment or background noise, it was important.  You could even say it was a family value. I remember walking into the house after school to the sounds of Otis Redding, The Temptations, Diana Ross, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, and on and on.  The Beatles LIVED in our home as far as I was concerned. John and Paul sang me to sleep most nights. We even had a full jukebox in our basement where my parents and their friends would spend nights and weekends singing (loudly) to their favorites.  My mom had this charming habit of taking anything you said to her and breaking into a song. If I was being annoying to my older brother and he said “Stop!” she’d burst right into “Stop, in the name of Love, before you break my heart…” She still does it this day.  This pure love for music shaped me in a way I could never imagine. I was just a kid who liked dancing in the kitchen to Motown artists, never realizing what an influence those experiences would have on me as I grew older. As a father, I try to pass that love onto my kids and there’s nothing more fun than watching my kids sing and dance to those same songs.

With that said, it is a little difficult to write about my “First Record.”  To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what that record specifically was, because there were so many.  But, The Beatles were kings in our household so “My First Record” has to be a Beatles album.

My uncle owned a huge record collection AND a great stereo system, which means Uncle Del was obviously the coolest guy in the world.  Our tight-knit extended family all lived in the same small town in central Illinois so naturally we spent a lot of time together. Anytime I was at his house I would run directly to his stereo and start poring over his records and cassettes.  He had these expensive headphones which allowed the music to be directly implanted into my brain. It felt like these musicians were playing just for me. The music was so crisp and clear, much better than my little tape player at home. It sounded so amazing!  My first experience with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Billy Joel’s “52nd Street” were through these marvelous wonders of technology, but hearing The Beatles through these headphones was one of the most perfect memories of my young life.

“Beatles” was hand-written on this cassette tape and once I started listening I couldn’t stop.  I think I had heard a lot of the songs before, because like I said, my Mom was a big fan. But this was different.  Listening on headphones made these songs have more depth and they came alive. I couldn’t necessarily relate to the infatuated teenage lovesick lyrics or the heartache caused by my crush not answering the door or telephone in “No Reply.”  (I would uncover those gems later as I experienced my own girl-crush drama.) But the melodies, harmonies, energy, and songcraft were undeniable. I distinctly remember swinging on the swing set in the backyard as the sun was setting and listening over and over.  I couldn’t believe that I loved every song. With other artists, even artists I loved, I didn’t like every single song. My uncle gave me this tape (or I just kept it, who can remember?) and I became a life-long Beatles fan.

Later, I wanted to use some birthday money to buy my own, proper copy of my favorite record.  (Uncle Del also said it would probably sound better if it wasn’t a taped copy.) After perusing through the cassettes at our Sam Goody at the local mall with my Mom, I realized I didn’t know the actual name of the album.  It just said “Beatles” on my tired, worn-down copy. After looking at all the titles, we discerned that the tape I had listened to religiously contained the first side of “Beatles For Sale” AND the entire “Rubber Soul.” Just looking at the songs on these two records floods me with memories and remind me what incredible songwriters they were.  I still play several of these songs, and “In My Life” was used in my wedding ceremony, for example.

I am constantly on the lookout for new music, and I hope to find an artist that can even come close to replicating that feeling I had listening to Rubber Soul for the first time.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it can really happen. My adult brain inevitably gets in the way and I immediately decipher lyrics or chord progressions instead of listening to music the way I did as a kid.  I think we should all try to listen like a kid, because it was magic.

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Keep up with The Deep Hollow here.

arlene zelina | good company

arlene zelina | good company

I’m always inspired by songs that are filled with strong and seamless vocals. I love listening to stripped down pop songs where you can really hear the artist sing. It feels raw and intimate, almost like a private concert. So here are some of my favorite acoustic style pop tracks with a little R&B flair. You can only listen if it also involves wine, cheese and good company.

Daniel Caesar – Best Part (feat. H.E.R)
Camila Cabello – Real Friends
Kehlani – Honey
Noah Cyrus, MAX – Team
Ella Mai – Naked
Mila J – No Brakes
Elijah Blake – Mama Knows
Tori Kelly – Paper Hearts
Rihanna, Kanye, Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds
Lauv – The Other (Stripped)
Frank Ocean – Ivy
Cody Simpson – Home To Mama
Jorja Smith – Goodbyes
Troye Sivan – My My My! (Acoustic)
Rudimental, James Arthur – Sun Comes Up (Acoustic)

Keep up with Arlene here.

mad crush | perspective

mad crush | perspective

One part June Carter sassing Johnny Cash along with two dashes of Itzhak Perlman on a midnight hayride, Mad Crush’s songs contain theatrical, back-and-forth performances between their singing protagonists Joanna Sattin and John Elderkin. Complete with humor and heartbreak, their songs are in fact bright little dramas about fussing, fighting, and occasionally making up—universal truths sprinkled with brand-new magic dust. Below, Elderkin discusses his first musical influences, which are readily apparent upon listening to Mad Crush’s recently-released debut LP.

I have a habit of dismissing great albums on my first listen. I had friends with an advanced copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” who freaked out when they heard it, but when I listened, I thought it sucked. Later, I gave it another try and realized I was way wrong. Like the rest of the world, I ate it up. I had a similar reaction to R.E.M.’s first EP, called “Chronic Town.” Friends I respected said that it sounded unlike anything they’d ever heard anywhere. I listened and shrugged. It was different, but what was it? But when I pulled the record out again a few months later, I was flabbergasted. Those guys were speaking my language!

The one time I got it right came before these albums, on my first listen to The Clash’s “London Calling.” I was a teenager but I’d never heard of The Clash, and I bought it because I liked the cover picture of the bass player smashing his guitar on stage. I turned on my record player and by the end of the first song I was jumping up and down on my bed like a maniac. When my younger brother came in to ask what the hell was going on, I pointed to the record player and sure enough, he jumped on the bed, too. The only time I got down was to turn over the sides. I didn’t own a lot of records yet, and afterward I probably assumed that most albums would knock me out this way, that life would be one “London Calling” after another. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t so impressed later with other records that were supposed to bowl me over. Or maybe it’s just that great…

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Keep up with Mad Crush here.

cream with a k | songs i listen to

cream with a k | songs i listen to

When I made a list of my favorite songs, I realized that all the songs chosen had deeply influenced me in one way or another. To be honest, it was my first time creating a compilation playlist. The process was quite enjoyable and enlightening.

All of these artists are unique, expressive, innovative and have made a lasting impact on me. Although exposing my roots leaves me feeling a bit naked… I hope you can enjoy these songs as much as I have!

At the end of the day, I still think of myself as just a music lover and mega geek.

Pavement – Mellow Jazz docent
The Breeders – Off You
The Cardigans – Starter
Portishead – Sour times
Aimee Mann – Red Vines
Beck – Pay no mind
Pixies – Hey
Smashing pumpkins – Hummer
Mannequin Pussy – Romantic
Autolux – Here comes everybody
Sonic Youth – Becuz
Garbage – Queer
Nirvana – Sliver
Red hot chili pepper – Warm Tape
Cornelius – New Music Machine
Ks choice – I smoke a lot
Dinosaur Jr – In a Jar

Keep up with Cream with a K here.

Photography: Kenta Karima
Styling: Yuuki Sakamoto/Shop Yaiya
Hair & Make up: Rina Taniguchi
brooke moriber | fearless females

brooke moriber | fearless females

I am celebrating girl power with this playlist! These are women who have inspired me to write my music and live my life from a place of strength. The list spans from my vocal idol Linda Ronstadt to my girl crush Sia.
I believe music is one of the best ways we can connect as human beings and heal together throughout this crazy journey. Enjoy!

Keep up with Brooke Moriber here.