In honor of Vandaveer’s tenure as February’s artist in residency and the release of The Wild Mercury this week, frontman Mark Charles Heidinger put together this playlist. “I opted to go with tunes/albums that were in regular rotation during various studio sessions for our new record,” Heidinger told WFPK. “One must put fuel in the tank if he expects his engine to run.”
Sun Kil Moon – Sunshine in Chicago
Mark Kozelek’s combative and cantankerous ways are well documented. He holds little back and regularly veers into uncomfortable terrain. There’s a directness and immediacy to his songwriting that I find magnetic and arresting. This album was in regular rotation during the first phase of tracking for our new record. I think it probably influenced me in a number of ways, from trying to write less abstractly to the manner in which we tracked our vocals. The Sun Kil Moon catalog is gorgeous and unsettling. Kozelek can endear and offend in a single verse. Strangely compelling. I could pick just about any track from this record.
Beck – Paper Tiger
Sea Change might be a desert island disc for me, assuming said desert island had electricity, stereo equipment, non-perishable goods and a way for me to stay hydrated long enough to relax and think about listening to music. The complementary talents of Beck and producer Nigel Godrich are nearly unmatched. My bandmate J. Tom Hnatow introduced me to a Serge Gainsbourg record called Histoire de Melody Nelson on a recent tour. Beck openly admits to borrowing liberally from the production and arrangement of that record, specifically on “Paper Tiger.” Art imitating art, not theft. It’s inspiring. And a standout among standouts on this record. The strings are so frenetic and dramatic. Great depth of field on this tune.
Phosphorescent – A Charm/A Blade
Another record we had in regular rotation during the early sessions for our new record. Such a pleasing experience, listening to this album, especially underneath a pair of quality studio headphones. We’d fire up the console, put on a few records and drink our morning coffee before tracking. invariably we’d turn to this album — so much so that we started to irritate Duane, our producer man. Matthew Houck layers his vocals one atop another but maintains that delicate, vulnerable quality he does so damn well. It’s an army of voices, but they still sound tender and intimate. The delivery of the line “Cut my heart but do it fast / Don’t want that hurt to last” from “A Charm / A Blade” is just perfect.
Bob Dylan – Most of the Time
It doesn’t get much better than Dylan and Daniel Lanois. I know Time Out Of Mind is considered their high water mark together, but I find myself turning to Oh Mercy more. The progression from demo to album cut of this particular tune is stunning. We spent a lot of time listening to this record during The Wild Mercury sessions, too. We borrowed liberally from the Lanois playbook with re-amped guitar tones. The studio had this huge empty warehouse space next door. We left a speaker out there and would regularly send guitar tracks, organs, whatever out to it at blistering volumes. Then we’d put a mic 50, 100 feet away in the far corner of the warehouse and re-record the whirlwind of sound that it produced. “Warehouse it!” became a common phrase we blurted out during these sessions. Thanks, Bob & Dan. We owe you one.
Sturgill Simpson – Just Let Go
Sturgill is doing Kentucky proud. It’s inspiring to see someone from your old hometown ride a serious wave to real success, and — more importantly — to do it with fantastic songs. This is country music, sure, but it’s also much more than that. The man can flat out sing. And lyrically I find myself regularly digging in for more. “Gonna transmigrate to my destination / Far beyond time in an eternal dream” isn’t standard country fare. He can also give a hell of an interview. Entertaining on so many levels. And then there’s that guitar player — Laur Joamets from Estonia… an absolutely phenomenal player. I’m excited to hear the next record. I expect it to confuse minds and furrow brows in the country world, just as it should.