“I try to write songs honestly, and a lot of the things going on in my head that I struggle with might be deemed ‘dark,’ but I don’t think that means I can’t sing about them in a way that is musically upbeat or poppy,” says New York City native Andrew Marr – the man behind indie rock moniker Ski Lodge.  Melding rapaciously hook-y melodies with lyrics that probe darker thematic recesses than would be expected given the music’s buoyant rhythms, Marr manages to sustain the delicate balance between the shared lyrical introspection and his upbeat approach to these ideas and sounds.  

On his debut record, Big Heart (out now on Dovecote Records), Marr delves into matters of infidelity, romantic disintegration, loneliness, and the often complicated relationships between fathers and sons.  But by applying a liberal amount of buoyant and deceptively simple harmonies, he approaches these topics in a way that lessens the initial impact but still manages to impart a particularly burly emotional punch.  Big Heart comes across as Marr’s attempt at an uneasy equilibrium, where the two aspects of his work (the darker lyrical content and lighter musical thrust) meet and recoil off each other in a continual upward spiral.

Recently, we sat down with Marr to talk about some of the records which helped to shape his approach to his own music – and in particular, the recording of the songs on Big Heart.  From the early pop punk proclivities of Green Day to Morissey & Co’s moody pop ruminations, you can hear how Marr has worked these familiar sounds into new and unique musical expressions.  And by mentioning relatively newer records by bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, it’s fair to say that he understands and appreciates his own place in indie rock’s storied legacy.   Check out his full list below in our latest On Deck feature.

Green Day - Dookie
Green Day – Dookie

I picked this one because it was this first record I ever bought. I bought the CD version at a Sam Goody in my hometown. I remember seeing the video for “Basket Case” on MTV and loving it. It might have been the first time I realized that having a band is something I wanted to pursue in some capacity.

Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
Death Cab For Cutie – Plans

I went through a phase in my early twenties where i didn’t pay attention or listen to a whole lot of music. I was going through a rough time in my life and I completely lost touch with home much music meant to me. Someone introduced me to Death Cab For Cutie and I absolutely fell in love. I listened to this record everyday at work for a couple months. I for probably a half a year listening to mostly Death Cab. I this this record really woke me up and made me want to start writing and focusing on music again.

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

Could be my favorite record of all time. Brilliant from start to finish. When I first heard a song of this record, Morrissey’s voice was like nothing I had ever heard before.This record and The Smiths in general made me completely rethink the type of music I wanted to make. Listening to The Smiths really influenced the way i use try to utilize my voice. My vocal range is somewhat limited, but listening to Morrissey somehow helped me develop a way to write more interesting melodies within my range.

The Grateful Dead - Ladies & Gentlemen, The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead – Ladies & Gentlemen, The Grateful Dead

This is a 4 cd box set of a live show from NYC in 1971. I was absolutely obsessed with the Grateful Dead in high school. These 4 cd’s we constantly on rotation in my car stereo. The Grateful Dead inspired me to play in a band in high school and also showed me how powerful the connection between band and fan could be. My high school band was mainly a “jam band” and we did a lot of Grateful Dead covers. LIstening to these cd’s and playing some of the songs off these cd’s were so key in helping me learn how to play and interact musically with other musicians.

The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

My introduction to The Shins was through the movie “Garden State”, as im sure it was for a lot of people around that time. Although “New Slang” wasn’t on Chutes Too Narrow, its the reason why I started listening to the Shins. Chutes Too Narrow might be my favorite Shins record. LIke most of my favorite records its just soooo good from start to finish. James Mercer is also one of my favorite vocalists of all time. I think his melodies are so unique and catchy. Singing along to this record and other Shins records helped me learn to sing and played a big part in helping develop my voice.

Ski Lodge’s debut album, Big Heart, is out now on Dovecote Records