Jordan Klassen‘s Big Intruder (Nevado) is out now, and you should probably give it a listen before you finalize your best-albums-of-2017 list. When you’re done doing that, check out Klassen’s shiny new MAGNET mix tape, a playlist of songs selected for your listening pleasure, giving a little bit of insight into his favorite music. Check it out below.
Harry Nilsson, “Without Her”
When I was writing Big Intruder, I was really reflecting on the idea of the heritage of the “singer/songwriter.” Nilsson was a guy I had to keep coming back to during this process. He is a legend of a storyteller and a master of doing more with less. This song is a perfect example—just a bass carrying the rhythm, a cello playfully weaving around the melody, clear and concise lyrics that never feel stale.
Sufjan Stevens, “John My Beloved”
My life has been pretty happy lately—I get to write songs for a job, I’m a newlywed, and I love where I live and the community I have. For some reason, these are the times when I find myself drawn to sad songs. I think maybe when life is dark there’s just something too on the nose about them or something. “John My Beloved” is one of my favorite sad songs, and it’s in heavy rotation for me. It’s so honest and unsentimental and perfectly metaphorical. Stevens has this wonderful quality where he can be extremely specific and insider, but there always arises a supernatural ability for the listener to feel like they know exactly what he’s talking about.
Husky, “History’s Door”
I’m about to head out on a Europe tour with these guys, and it’s one of those occasions where I’m genuinely looking forward to getting to hear them every night. This summer, my wife and I went to Italy for a belated honeymoon, and I think this tune ended up being the anthem of our trip.
The Tourist Company, “Pedestals”
Full disclosure: This song may be cheating a bit because I actually produced this record and am pretty close pals with these guys. Regardless, this is an excellent pop tune, and the whole record gets regular play at my apartment. Taylor knows how to combine hooky sensibilities with weirdness, and he does it with ease. One of my favourite Vancouver bands for sure.
Kate Bush, “Wuthering Heights”
Another big inspiration behind Big Intruder, Kate Bush is a great example of a singer/songwriter who turns the genre a bit on its head—her songs are personal and honest but also really odd and jarring at times. Whenever I listen to “Wuthering Heights,” I never doubt its sincerity despite its weirdness. This is, I think, at the heart of what successful experimental art achieves. “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy/I’ve come home, I’m so cold/Let me in through your window.” The story feels true but also other-worldly. Also, this is really perfect dance-alone-in-your-living-room music.
Gregory Alan Isakov, “Second Chances”
Of all the records I’ve dug into the past few years, this one has probably been played the most. The songwriting is really so wonderful. Isakov’s lyrics are convincing enough to punch you in the gut, and abstract enough to avoid ever feeling preachy. This track is a great example of this. “If it weren’t for second chances, we’d all be alone.” He’s the antagonist in the story, he’s the one expressing his need, and you want to come along and repent with him.
Low Roar, “Nobody Loves Me Like You”
These guys are on my label, and I’ve just been loving everything they’ve been doing. The songs are at the same time cozy and creepy, uneasy and seamless. At first glance, this track seems like a sweet love song, but when you dig into the story a little more, shit gets dark.