Having recently released their Small Sound EP, husband and wife duo Tennis have been busy carving out a musical identity, vocalist Alaina Moore in particular. "Since the formation of our band Tennis, I've had a bit of trouble finding my identity as a female singer," she explains. "I grew up listening almost exclusively to male artists and male-fronted bands. I would channel male voices in my writing that didn't suit me and inhibited my work. The problem was with my concept of female vocalists - flat and dichotomised, ie: light and airy or strong and belting. To remedy this I devoted much of my time to discovering new (or old) music written by women that could guide my search for my own voice. I was rewarded with Laura Nyro, Judee Sill, Buffy Sainte-Marie and so many others. Now I feel compelled to share my discoveries - because it's absurd that folk, psychedelia and rock (music I love most) had a rich, pervasive female heritage that I knew nothing about!" Here's her selections...
The Roches - Hammond Song "After telling a good friend I was making a playlist of influential female songwriters, he suggested I listen to The Roches and I'm very glad he did. I fell long and hard for this song the moment I heard it."
Laura Nyro - Brown Earth "My muse, and the voice I wish I possessed - Laura Nyro. She is the Laura I sing of on our most recent single Mean Streets [below]."
Vashti Bunyan - Diamond Day "Another gem from the 70s British folk-scene. I am not the first musician to fall in love with Vashti. Also, I feel like I should mention that her daughter Whyn Lewis is an incredible visual artist."
Broadcast - Come On Let's Go "For me, this is the band that changed everything. I don't write a melody or lyric without thinking about Trish Keenan. Her style completely informs my approach to music."
Buffy Sainte-Marie - Sweet September Morning "My favourite thing about Buffy is that she always sings at 100 percent diva level. She just never turns it off and it always works. Sweet September Morning is one of my favorite songs from my favorite record, She Used To Wanna Be A Ballerina."
NB Driving is currently unavailable
Sybille Baier - Driving "Sybille Baier is a German folk singer who composed and recorded a number of songs in her home during the early 1970s. She chose never to release her music, but decades later her son made a compilation based on her original tape recordings and distributed them to friends and family. That record is called Colour Green and well worth a listen."
The Shaggs - Philosophy Of The World "According to urband legend, this band is comprised of sisters who were forced by their father to form a band against their will. This could sort of explain how seemingly awful they are at their own instruments. Fortunately when it comes to rock'n'roll, if you cannot acquire coolness through skill and ability, it is possible to gain it through disdain and aloofness. Not giving a fuck when everyone gives a fuck is incredibly cool. This is probably why Frank Zappa was a huge fan of The Shaggs. Also there is a good chance none of this is true. It is probably 90 percent false. That is why I'm calling it urban legend."
Yo La Tengo - Today Is The Day "Yo La Tengo is your best friend's favourite band you never heard of. Yo La Tengo is the band loved by a cool character in a Jonathan Franzen novel. They lay claim to a quiet mystique while being culturally pervasive in a way that is remarkable and enviable. It's the sort of balancing act that gains a cult following and an enduring career. It seems to me Yo La Tengo has both."
Jessica Pratt - Night Faces "My favorite new music discovery; intimate and heartrending. If I wasn't in a band with Patrick, I would probably be learning classical guitar and ripping off Jessica Pratt's style."
Judee Sill - Jesus Was A Cross Maker "Judee Sill is my favorite lyricist of all time. She wrote songs intensely personal - to the point of being alienating, yet delivered them with a familiarity that keeps her listeners close. She can make a cryptic, New Testament reference feel completely at home in a pop song. That takes confidence and instinct-- two things I aspire to develop in my own writing."
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