THE GRANITE SHORE – Lucky 7
LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…today is the turn of a band who’ve made one of the albums of the year “Suspended Second” on Occultation Records, The Granite Shore. Occultation label boss, purveyors of sumptuously packaged vinyl, Nick Halliwell (formerly of cult concern The Gift) leads The Granite Shore to make beautifully crafted pop music, not heard the like of since ABC. Exquisite lyrics, widescreen productions, resounding vocals, they are quintessentially British, with timeless songwriting and yet with a 2017 relevance to our changing socio-political landscape as keen and sharpened as the recent records by The Wolfhounds and the Band of Holy Joy. It’s a real pleasure to get The Granite Shore on board VS to choose a Lucky 7, and audiophile writer,vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Nick decided to set himself parameters with which to narrow his search for tunes, by sticking to songs he was listening to when making “Suspended Second”.
Nick gave us this explanatory introduction to his peerless selection:
“I’ve been a little perplexed by reviews pegging The Granite Shore as “indie”; I’m not terribly sure what that means and it’s not my own musical background. With “Suspended Second” I set out to make a pop record so, for my Lucky Seven, I’ve picked records I was listening to a lot while working on it. We didn’t have the budget that would’ve gone into making any of these but I’ve always firmly believed that the most interesting records come from attempting to work beyond, or at least around, your limitations.”
Before we get into the list, please do spend some time soaking up The Granite Shore. The band, which also features fellow Occultation artists, John Howard, Arash Torabi from The Distractions, and Phil Wilson of The June Brides, who has directed a fair few videos for the band…see below…
And with “Suspended Second” in mind, here’s a Lucky 7 tunes chosen by Nick of The Granite Shore…
1. ABBA: The Name of the Game
Trying to pick one ABBA song was torture, I could easily have picked six and that’d’ve still been a massive challenge, as ABBA were my first musical love and will be my last. Every record I’ve made reflects the particular way in which I’ve failed to sound like them, although I like to think that I got a little nearer this time. I’ve gone for “The Name of the Game” as I spent a huge amount of time with side one of “The Album”. The sheer ambition of the writing, the lyric and the way the girls’ two contrasting voices are deployed for different sections… Then the way it’s recorded, the acoustic guitar sound, the kick drum – Martin Hannett (see Magazine below) must’ve spent hours listening to the production on ABBA records – I certainly have. My admiration is boundless and I’m glad they’re finally being taken more seriously. Few things make me angrier than people assuming my love for them is “ironic” in some way. They’re my favourite group ever, full stop.
2. Beyoncé: Freedom (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Two birds, as Beyoncé and Kendrick are responsible for many of my favourite records of the last few years. “To Pimp A Butterfly” is an astonishing achievement, a record as conceptually-rounded as it is musically brilliant. So is “Lemonade” and her previous, eponymous LP was also amazing. I can think of few other mainstream artists who’ve made music this challenging.
(LP version not on YT but use this incendiary live version:
3. Kim Wilde: Kids in America
I bought her first LP in 1981, I was in a band called The Gift and we used to play this song. It’s all major chords, which is unusual unless you’re AC/DC. I love the fact that the backing band on the album were the none-more-prog The Enid. The rundown at the end is majestic, not quite spoilt by the gormless “we da kidz” chant; I like to picture The Enid suggesting that, thinking it’d be “a bit punk”.
4. Taylor Swift: All You Had To Do Was Stay
Like “Kim Wilde”, which it resembles in many ways, “1989” is brash and hook-heavy, as pop records should be. This song’s melody is mostly on one note – with the “stay!” hook an octave higher – a clever trick. It makes me want to punch the air (amongst other things).
(can’t find this on YT but
5. Magazine: Upside Down
Non-LP single circa “The Correct Use of Soap”, produced by Martin Hannett. Both Hannett and Magazine were clearly ABBA-influenced but, as with us, people tend to overlook what’s staring them in the face because Howard (Devoto) and I don’t sound much like Agnetha and/or Frida. This is how musical influence should work: draw on your own immediate area and the apple probably won’t fall far from the tree whereas look further afield and you may end up with a raspberry… Which leads us neatly on to…
6. Prince: Raspberry Beret
Prince was in my thoughts a lot while making the record. I love the fact that he was listening to late Buzzcocks singles; this song is an outrageous steal from Are Everything (also produced by Martin Hannett). I love so many of his LPs but I think “Around The World In A Day” and “Parade” are my two favourites. This in turn brings us to…
The Lucky 7th. The Granite Shore: The Performance of a Lifetime
This emerged from a number of sources. I saw a couple of academics bickering amicably over their interpretations of the lyrics on social media, which was a bright spot in what’s otherwise been a truly appalling couple of years. They’d spotted the references to Hamlet V, ii, along with the sense of something very rotten in our own state of nationhood, but missed the suspended second chords and other (lyrical) allusions to another prince.
THANKS TO NICK HALLIWELL, AND ALSO TO PHIL WILSON FOR PUTTING US IN TOUCH
You can buy “Suspended Second” and other great Occultation vinyl here…