On their debut album What Am I Doing? the New York band Lushes deliver taut, complicated rock songs that are full of hairpin turns and harrowing conclusions — it’s petulant post-rock that scrambles and kicks. To get to the root of their sound, we asked them to assemble a list of 10 songs that were crucial influences. Their answers are as stylistically varied as the music they produce.
Throbbing Gristle, “Persuasion”
James Ardery (guitar, vocals): Throbbing Gristle basically tore my head off almost five years ago. I was late to the game discovering not only Throbbing Gristle, but Psychic TV, Chris & Cosey, Coum Transmissions, Coil and all of the other associated projects. I was lucky enough to see them three times in four days on their last ever tour through NYC. “Persuasion” is one of those pieces that is TG through and through. Twisted and straight to the point.
Magik Markers, “Last of the Lemach Line”
Joel Myers (drums): Just a badass song, lyrics, vibe, everything. I’ve walked around my neighborhood a fair amount listening to this and trying to remember not to head bang.
Pissed Jeans, “Secret Admirer”
Ardery: Pissed Jeans is one of the best live bands in the world. Frontman Matt Korvette said he takes all his inspiration from the Birthday Party performance of “Junkyard” on Gotterdamerung. As a performer, he is gaining on that almost-perfect performance; as the owner of the label White Denim he really shows his eclectic, weird, cool taste with obscure noise and deep house releases. Dude is a fucking accountant by day, and reminds me that when performing on stage I am the equivalent of a clown!
Julia Holter, “Heaven”
Myers: The first time I heard this song I thought it was boring. But now, I can see why she put it first on her new album. It takes a lot of nerve to make a song like this, beautiful and vulnerable and intimate and full of space. The song totally captures the feeling of being alone in your apartment, with all its quiet uncertainty and restlessness and your mind wandering.
Andre 3000, “Pink and Blue”
Ardery: I’m from the South and grew up on punk, hardcore and rap. Andre 3000 is, hands down, the best rapper alive, and has been an inspiration on me since I was in sixth grade. From fashion to quitting drugs and alcohol for art and veganism, he has pushed his aesthetic since he started. Dude is so smart and still not fully appreciated for how talented he is. I cannot wait for his solo release in 2014.
Holly Herndon, “Fade”
Myers: I’ve been listening to this song on repeat. Structurally it’s really weird, despite how listenable it is. In a lot of ways, this reminds me of Bach’s organ works, in a maximalist, sensory-overload kind of way; I can get lost in all the different parts going on, which I love.
Young Widows, “The Guitar”
Ardery: There are too many Louisville bands I could reference, so I will stick with the classic and still very active Young Widows. Evan Patterson is one of my favorite guitarists of all time, and through his playing in plenty of hardcore projects, he has helped nurture, in one way or another, my love of loud abrasive guitars. See also: The Jesus Lizard.
Schnittke, “Collected Songs Where Every Voice is Filled With Grief”
Myers: I want to look at the score for this, but have been too lazy and broke to track it down. Really interesting harmonies, flirting with the line between tonal and atonal in a way you’d expect for someone so influenced by Shostakovich. Great piece.
Ardery: I used to be a little smartass skateboarder who would write graffiti around Louisville get kicked out of the mall, or get arrested in southern Indiana on the roof of some school. Fugazi was one of my first introductions to punk, self-confidence and being socially aware. They are great to listen to if you wanna get pumped up to skate.
John Fahey, ‘Requiem for John Hurt”
Myers: I’m from the Midwest originally, and I love this kind of open-tuning guitar stuff. Feels like fresh air, driving with an open window through wheat fields or something.