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  • Writer's pictureNed

"What music did you listen to as a teenager?" Part 2

This is probably best read after Part I, and if, having read that, you found yourself hungry for more: welcome, young disciple :) Last time I covered my baby-teenage years, this time I’ll pick an album the years following my ‘super-sweet sixteen’ (an MTV show that stole many, many hours of my life and gave precious little in return).

17: Antony and the Johnsons - I am a Bird Now

By the age of 17, most people have learned how to navigate their own way through the world of music. I still lacked that particular skill, and continued to rely on my older sister. One day I stomped up the stairs (I’m pretty heavy-footed) and heard what I thought to be the sound of wailing seeping out from her room. I peered in and heard a yearning, ethereal voice float above a cacophony of instruments. This, the climax to ‘Fistful of Love’, was so hauntingly and mesmerizingly beautiful that I immediately reached out to steal the CD before realising that I now had an iPod and iTunes and could have my very own copy without stepping an inch outside.

To this day there is not a single voice that tugs at my heartstrings as much of Antony’s (now a woman under the name of ‘Anohni’). I don’t know how to describe that voice, and don’t want to try in case I give it the appearance of being comprehensible. It is best put by Lou Reed who said: “When I heard Antony, I knew that I was in the presence of an angel.” I challenge anyone to listen to ‘Hope there’s someone’, ‘Spiralling’, ‘Bird Gurhl’ and not be moved. I spent ages researching how he developed that voice, and it turns out it’s just what came out when he tried to sing. Some people have it all!

18: Little Voice - Sara Bareilles

The biggest marketing lie of all time. That is one MAHUSIVE voice!!! I listened to this after reading about how the lead single, ‘Love Song’, was written as a big ‘up yours’ to the record label that told her to write about how her life revolves around chasing a particular man or men. The chorus runs: “I’m not going to write you a love song because you asked for it”. I like sass, so had to check it out. And I was addicted. The tracks have so much energy flowing through them’ it’s impossible not to listen to “Love on the Rocks” and not start bopping. It’s pure pop, with catchy hooks and big choruses, but always makes me happy. And again, what a voice!!! I love the slightly breathy, husky texture to her tone.

19: Counting Crows - August and Everything After

It had to be there somewhere! The album from which our name is taken (or are we the band from which their album name was taken?) I had heard this a little while growing up. But I was exclusively into hip-hop as a kid and this is very much not that. At an older, wiser age I was finally able to appreciate this work of genius. From the first line (Round Here: “Step out the front door / Like a ghost into the fog / Where no one notices the contrast of white on white”) to the last (Murder of One: “I will walk along these hillsides / In the summer beneath the sunshine / I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me”), the lyrics captivated me - I’d never heard poetry like it. And his voice dances freely throughout, unfettered by any restriction as to line or time. It was a definitely *mind blown* moment when I rediscovered it.

Thanks for reading! Keep posted for: Vedantha’s favourite albums of his 20s, Vedantha’s favourite albums of his pre-teens, and Vedantha’s favourite songs as a foetus.

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