MCU Mondays: Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes

Starting this week, we will be debuting a new feature to connect fans and artists on a whole new level. For the first Monday of every month we are introducing MCU Mondays, where we get band, artists, or music industry professionals to share some of their favorite songs, and explain just why those songs are important to them. Music Creates Us has always been about connecting with the music and finding what inspires each and every fan in their love of music. We at MCU love sharing our playlists through our Tuesday Tunes, but we thought it would mean even more for music lovers to hear what some of their idols listen to and what those songs mean to them. After all, artists are fans too, and there are songs out there that may have started them on the path to their dreams, or continue to inspire them throughout their career. It is exciting to hear what they have to say, and get a look at what music keeps them going and has led many to success.

This week we have Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes lined up to share some of the songs they have been listening to and that have really made an impact on them. Take a look below, and be sure to respond with songs that you feel have “created” you and your love for music!

You can also listen to and subscribe to this playlist here.

Joel’s picks:

Nine Inch Nails “All Time Low” – The bass lines in this song are ridiculous. It’s one of my favorite tracks off of the new NIN album because of that reason. The last part of the track features an ascending/descending synth line that seems to go in and out of phase and it really takes the song to a whole other level. No matter where I’m at when this song comes on, I’m sure to be bobbing my head with a giant smile.
Phil Collins “Take Me Home” – This song never disappoints. I literally cannot sit still when this tune comes on. Although I’m a big fan of anything Phil Collins, I think the tag in the chorus (“cause I don’t remembah”) is the classic example of PC’s timeless pop sensibility.
David Byrne and St. Vincent “Who” – I’ve always been a fan of both, David Byrne and St. Vincent and when I first heard this track I became an even greater fan of them both. Although I love the entire “Love This Giant” record they did together, I think this song was the ultimate collaboration between the two of them. The rhythms in this track are just a little left-of-center which makes it cool and quirky, but not too much that you lose any groove. And it still grooves really hard, I might add.

Daniel’s picks:

Phoenix “S.O.S. In Bel-Air” – The synth lines, the melody, the groove. This track has everything you could want in a feel-good pop song. People talk a lot about their songs being in nonsensical broken English, but I think it’s totally intentional. I think they are using words to create certain feelings, rather than to tell a story. It’s the English language being used in a different way than we’re used to, and I’m totally on board with it. White azure canoe! Vive la France!
Local Natives “Colombia” – The first song in a long time to actually bring me to tears. A beautiful and moving dedication to lead singer, Kelcey Ayers’, mother who recently passed away. Let’s not forget to mention that Local Natives are one of the best live bands currently making music. If you get a chance…prepare to have your mind blown. Look, ma – no tracks!
Haim “The Wire” – A hype band that lives up to the hype in every way. 3 sisters that are some sort of an infectious blend between Fleetwood Mac and nineties R&B. This song is so good, it’s infuriating. I dare you to try and listen to it only once.

Timon’s picks:

Tom Petty (& The Heartbreakers) “You Wreck Me” – I love the entire Wildflowers album but this is one of my favorite tracks, mostly because of the guitar sound. Mike Campbell is one of my heroes. He’s a master of saying so much with so few notes. He plays from the heart, not his brain. When I saw The Heartbreakers in concert in 2008, they opened with this song. I’ll never forget the sound of the first three chords. Whenever I sound check before a show with DE&TGL, I play those chords as a reference to dial in my sound. Who better to emulate than Mike Campbell?
Buddy Holly “I’m Gonna Love You Too” – Buddy had many great songs and it’s difficult to pick one. This track, however, has some quirky studio characteristics and accidents that give it a particular charm. For this recording, Buddy built an echo chamber by the studio in a neighboring house. He used tile from his father’s tile company, Holley Tile Co. (Buddy dropped the ‘e’ in his name for show business). The echo is, for some reason, much more present during the last chorus, making it sound much different than the rest of the track. I like how random that is. Jerry Allison, the drummer, is using a cardboard box instead of a snare drum. Also, there was a cricket living in Buddy’s new echo chamber. Its chirping can be heard at the end of the track when the instruments fade out. I don’t think that’s how the band got its name, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, so if that was unintentional; the cricket being there is an amazing coincidence. A lot of the delay effects that I try to capture come from Buddy Holly’s recordings, too. And he’s probably one of the biggest reasons that I’m a musician.
Tom Waits “Burma-Shave” – These are classic Tom Waits lyrics: short lines about being on the road, last-chances, women, sketchy characters, and complete with references to a town that could be anywhere-U.S.A. Despite being a great example of Tom’s performance style and songwriting, I also love the story behind this song. Burma Shave is a real company that used to advertise their products with a serious of small billboards or signs along the roadside. They would be lined up with a few words on each, usually incorporating some kind of cheap rhyme like: Does your husband / Misbehave / Grunt and grumble / Rant and rave / Shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave. When Tom was a kid, he would see these signs and thought that “Burma Shave” was a place where you could go, like it was just at the end of the road he was on. There’s a great innocence there that I love. As a kid, your mind does some brilliant things. It’s probably a good to act like a kid sometimes. The song’s refrain talks about Burma Shave as a town, just like he thought when he was a kid.

Marshall’s picks:
Band of Horses “Detlef Schrempf” – Floating melody, accompanied by reverbed guitars puts me in a mind state far away. I imagine lying on my back in boat in the middle of the ocean thinking about the person I love. It’s a classic Band of Horses chorus. Simple and catchy. Catch the subtle organ chords in the background, blending like cream into coffee. Any way you slice it, it’s one of their most beautiful songs.
Half Moon Run “Call me in the Afternoon” – Wait for it. Yea when the drums come in you can’t stop moving your head. And yea, they sing those harmonies live. These kids from Canada have a serious future in music; don’t let them get off your radar if you are looking for new music. I love the stuttering in the chorus. If you get a chance, watch this music video as well.
Dr. Dog “Where’d all the Time Go” – If you want to hear a monster bass line, check these verses out. I love the intro with the reversed mellotron keyboard. The sounds on this record complement those from the 60’s that made those records sound so classic. Wall of SOUND. Dr. Dog another band that sounds just as good live as they do on their records.

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