The Shades put out the Miles Made Of Inches EP earlier this year, and if you’re doing your MAGNET homework every night, you’d remember that we featured their sunny tune “Only For A Moment” a while back. Today, we’re bringing you a mix tape made by the band that gives some insight into the music that influenced the creation of their EP. So listen and read along below, and check out Miles Made Of Inches when you’re through.
Bernhoft, “Come Around”
Phil: Bernhoft doesn’t travel to Chicago often, but when he does, you can nearly guarantee we’ll be in the audience singing along (in full harmony) throughout his set. He is without question one of the most gifted and creative artists of this generation. This tune’s feel-good vibe and catchy hook make it an excellent opening track for this mix tape. We were listening to a lot of Bernhoft at the time we recorded, and his influence on our overall sound is significant.
Lake Street Dive, “Seventeen”
Andrew: If the crunchy opening guitar line doesn’t hook you, the first lyric definitely will: “Look at those eyes behind the trees,” Rachael Price sings, “don’t the highway sound like an ocean?” This is one of our favorite Lake Street Dive tunes because it’s so manic—featuring completely different tempos, as well as a male-and-female lead vocal throughout—it almost sounds like two songs in one. But that’s who Lake Street Dive is as a songwriting team: They force you to pay attention, by any means necessary.
Brandi Carlile, “The Eye”
Mark: The three of us were heavy into Brandi Carlile at different points while writing and recording this record. What we love about this song, aside from the heart-achingly beautiful lyrics, is that it’s sung almost entirely in three-part harmony, start to finish.
Allen Stone, “Say So”
Mark: This love song is as insanely catchy as it is simple. It’s the type of song that exudes joy and will leave you involuntarily grinning and tapping your feet (but, like, not in a creepy way). It’s a reminder to us, as songwriters, that not every lyric we write needs to carry some deeper meaning.
John Mayer, “Born And Raised”
Phil: This record was definitely in rotation throughout the creation of our EP. “Born And Raised” is a song about growing older and coming to terms with where you are in life—with the hope that there’s still time to save face and become who you see yourself becoming. We love the way the verses are crafted, and supporting harmonies by David Crosby and Graham Nash are right up our alley in terms of vocal blend. It may have also inspired the Dylan-esqe harmonica featured on our album.
Phil: Johnnyswim is another group we were inspired by while writing and recording our EP. The title track to the 2014 album Diamonds is an incredible arrangement. There may be no stronger vocal blend than that of husband and wife (well, except maybe for brother and brother), and we love the lyrical quality and instrumentation choices on this record.
Blind Faith, “Can’t Find My Way Home”
Andrew: The truth is, a ton of classic music influenced our writing on Miles Made Of Inches, but it’s songs like this one—the not-quite-rock, not-quite-pop, not-quite-folk-or-country sound—that made us feel excited to put “Take You Home,” “Some & Others” and “The Path Without” on the same record. The deliberate, contemplative acoustic sound is really where the Shades started, and where we hope to continue to grow from.
Gabe Dixon Band, “Sirens”
Mark: Really, any Gabe Dixon song could have made our mix tape. We’ve always been in awe of Gabe’s songwriting and piano virtuosity. And the mythological reference in this song to sirens—something so mesmerizing that you can’t help but return to again and again—really encapsulates our relationship to Gabe’s music. He has, and always will be, a huge influence to the Shades, lyrically and melodically. As a bonus, there’s some masterful harmony work happening here—particularly in the last chorus.
Chance The Rapper, “Blessings (Reprise)”
Andrew: There are a million reasons to highlight who Chance The Rapper is as an artist, humanitarian and Chicagoan, but mainly, we felt strongly that the closing track for our mix tape should come from, well, an actual mix tape. A beautiful, poetic reminder to stay humble, hungry and ready. Because your blessing is coming.