Pepi Ginsberg seems to be constantly on the move. She released her debut record Orange Juice: Stephanie/Stephanie in 2006 and hasn’t stopped recording in the intervening years. Whether it’s full-length albums or EP’s, Ginsberg has never been one to deny her fans access to new music. In the winter of 2010, she got together with some friends and formed the all-women Brooklyn Ladies Choir. From this group, Ginsberg recruited bandmates Anna Thorngate and Amy Carrigan for a new project she was working on, which would turn out to be Companion. Bringing her longtime bass player Tim Lappin, drummer Justin Veloso, and new guitarist Kirk Schoenherr into the fold, Companion’s roster was finally complete. The songs on Companion’s debut record feel much different than Ginsberg’s previous work. Much like The Talking Heads, Companion make art pop with unexpected and subtle arrangements–though that’s not to say the music is timid by any means. There is a fierceness to Companion’s music that seems born from Ginsberg’s intimate bedroom music roots.
In advance of the release of their debut record, the members of Companion have each picked an album that means a great deal to them and have graciously written about them for Beats Per Minute. Enjoy their picks in the latest installment of our On Deck feature.
I started listening to this Philly band right after I moved from Philly, and really got into them right before they broke up. All their albums are weird and wonderful but this is the one I constantly go back too. Their lyrics can have a sarcastic tone with a “i rule” loner mentality, and their music can be both understated and frantic, The title track is one of my favorite love songs.
My friend Todd put this record on when we were all driving back from Louisiana and it felt like the right thing to be listening to after the second day of thirteen hour drives. It’s a really strange tapestry of moods, melodies, tones and ideas. I’m a big fan of the guitar and keyboard sounds and the layered vocals. It’s a great record to hang out with and be transported by. Additionally, the lyrics also cross into some pretty tender territory which is a nice contrast to the danceabilty of the record. Man, I’m listening as I type this, this record rules.
I’d like to say that my love of this record was not directly influenced by a drive through the rolling country hills of autumn Wisconsin which accompanied its first listen, but that’s just not true. Fortunately, just as “Apocalypse” served as the perfect soundtrack to that landscape, it has continued to hold up for me as a beautiful piece of modern, tragic Americana. Bill’s lilting baritone croons are cunningly offset by howling electric guitars and lo-fi drums and acoustics. This record is delicately beautiful and intensely honest.
R. Crumb’s collection “HOT WOMEN: Singers from the Torrid Regions of the World” has been a top album of mine (Amy Carrigan) for many years. I am a total sucker for weirdos and archival recordings so when I was given this is a collection of 24 tunes from around the world, hand picked from Crumb’s own 78 collection I was home. Each recording is unique and transporting. As a singer it’s incredible to get to experience the atmospheres, styles, tambors, colors of these bold, exotic women’s voices. Listening transports me with total curiousity to tiny villages off barely beaten paths and whenever I listen to them I wonder who these women were who were and who was there with them. I am particularly moved by Cheikha Tetma’s soul wrenching voice, “El Tambor de la Alegria” by Grupo De La Alegria, where you can hear people cheering amongst the chorus of clapping, flutes and drums, and Cleoma Breux Falcon’s “Blues Negres”, an enchanting Cajun French tune set to accordion and guitar. And who could forget Aïcha Relizania, the oldest example of female rap vocals I have found to date.
Shintaro Sakamoto’s record How to Live with a Phantom made winter 2012 a great time for a very particular kind of late-night, loopy, overexpressive two-person dance party for me.He’s been on my radar since a friend gave me one of his old psych band Yura Yura Teikoku’s LPs a few years ago, but that music, as cool as it was, didn’t get its hooks into me like these unbelievably groovy songs. The references to seventies pop are direct but really wide-ranging and deftly layered, and the production is super-dry and immediate-sounding. The vintage synths and sugared backing vocals make me crazy. Sakamoto’s own sort of offhand vocal delivery get across a lifetime’s worth of resigned yearning, even in Japanese. I can’t get enough of any of it.
Companion’s debut album is being self-released and is set to come out on February 5th. Head over to their website for more information concerning upcoming tour dates and order information.