Amen Dunes' 6 favorite Britpop songs
The rocker recommends tunes by Oasis, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, and more
"People always seem to associate Amen Dunes with a folk or psych thing," said Damon McMahon, the man behind lo-fi rock project Amen Dunes, "which it partially is, but it comes from lots of other musical worlds as well."
McMahon's latest album, Love, is full of wandering, intimate ruminations, but his influences range to the loud and gritty. McMahon caught up with The Week via e-mail to talk about his musical idols, the merits of being cheesy, and his rampant Anglophilia. "English music from the '80s through the early-to-mid '90s is a huge part of me," he said. "I'm definitely a football hooligan in a past life there somewhere."
Below, six of his favorite Britpop tracks:
1. The La's, "Timeless Melody"
"Lee Mavers changed my life, plain and simple. There's a dedication to him in the insert of the new record, and on the cover of the special edition. He's a total kindred spirit. When I first heard him I felt like I was listening to an unknown family member or something, the emotional parallels ran so deep. He also inspired a lot of depravity in the younger me, lots of time in bad places I should not have been, but so it goes... that record was in my Discman for like five years straight. He is also responsible for all the music that came after him in the early '90s English rock resurgence, from Oasis on up, but no one ever really knew or respected him as they should — people still don't today. The purest and the toughest, Lee Mavers. This video says it all, and I refer to it often when I need to remember why I do what I do. Much love."
2. Oasis, "Rock 'n' Roll Star"
"Duh, Oasis. The funny thing is there's like one other guy in all of the music community here in NYC who likes Oasis. We always talk about starting an Oasis band here and f--king with everyone in New York. No one gets it over here, but Oasis rules. It's all about Liam, but it's also kind of all about all of them. Liam never shows emotion on stage and always looks good. Noel is kind of similar but quieter and never seems to care about anything. Just writing this makes me wish that I was in Oasis. And the other dudes are like totally normal (what's his name again, Bonehead?), which I love. They're so good — cheesy (and I don't mean that ironically), super direct, arrogant, and a total high in the best way."
3. Happy Mondays, "Moving In With"
"Happy Mondays (to whom I dedicated my last album Spoiler to in the liner notes) is like the wild card in this community. It's total weirdo music, a quality they have that kind of can slip by unnoticed. You can't really define their music. The lyrics rule so hard — they're so weird and harsh and sexual; very smart actually. I love Happy Mondays. These guys were cool because [lead singer Shaun Ryder] was straight up a drug dealer, to the best of my knowledge via hearsay, and his friends were like, 'want to sing?' He thankfully did. It's total thug music. All these bands kind of are, but particularly Happy Mondays. I think this element is crucial, at least in the music I like. It's a big influence on Amen Dunes too, this attitude. I've always wanted my music to be tough, even if it's sad or pretty on the surface. These guys were like street cowboys or something. I guess it comes from life experiences or just inner alignment. When me and Parker started playing as Amen Dunes live, people asked us what kind of music we made and we would just say 'man music.' Ha."
5. Primal Scream, "Loaded"
"When I was a kid I didn't go see indie rock bands or anything like that, I went to loft parties and clubs and things in NYC. I wrote songs at home but never went to those kinds of shows and just as much listened to electronic music as I did guitar music. Primal Scream taught me about the power of cheesiness in electronic music. It was actually way cooler if it was a little bit cheesy and riding that edge. American electronic dance music, at least in the last 20 years, never really seems to get that part right. I remember telling my friend I was weirded out by all the diva vocals on Screamadelica, and he told me, 'Oh no, that's the best part, you gotta embrace that.' It was this record that taught me about that, that the cheesier it can go the ballsier it is. I also love how all these bands reappropriate '60s music and make it something contemporary and more urban. Primal Scream was way into redoing '60s stuff. I've taken that reappropriation of '60s music into Amen Dunes as well, and it partially came from watching all these guys do it."
6. Future Sound of London, "Just a F--king Idiot"
"A total underappreciated gem. The first guy to take me to early '90s raves and turn me on to acid and things like that gave me a hit list of electronic music I needed to hear, and FSOL ISDN was at the top of the list. Super plain cover and super rich and fucked up music within. Total drug album, ah God... lots of ceiling staring with this one as a kid. It was recorded live I think, and it starts off with the dude saying, 'Could you leave the lights alone, please, stop flashing the f--king lights' in a super thick accent. It's very harsh and real sounding... the whole record rules. It was very attractive to a 14-year-old burgeoning Anglophile and acidhead."
Love is out now on Sacred Bones.
(This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Rollins.)
Watch the video for "Lilac in Hand" below:
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