A cinematic pop album that spans themes of isolation and powerlessness, Katie’s debut full-length Shitty Hits still resonates several months after its release. She recently unveiled the video for latest single ‘Midsummer’, a Whitesnake’s Is This Love inspired video that, as she explains in a press release, “[makes] fun of the low-concept male rock video format, complete with intolerable guitar shredding, face making and a lovely yet narratively-undeveloped girlfriend”.
Tonight, she finishes her UK support slot with Big Thief, playing at Islington Assembly Hall, but will be back in London on the 22nd November as part of The Great Escape’s First Fifty at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen.
We caught up with Katie to talk about five of her favourite tracks.
Wilco – Radio Cure
In tenth grade I had a big crush on my history teacher who told me Wilco was his favourite band. I went to Best Buy and picked up Yankee Hotel Foxtrot arbitrarily because I liked the cover. It’s perfect as a whole, but this single song changed my direction as a musician more than anything else. It hit me at that sweet spot, age 15, and was the most difficult thing I’d heard. I listened to the album repeatedly in the first week after I bought it. At first it felt like noise almost (I hadn’t heard anything interesting by this time, not even the Beatles or Radiohead). Then on the second or third day of listening, I think I had just got some fast food from a drive through, and “Radio Cure” came on, and it just clicked, from this ethereal fuzzy chord repetition my brain finally made sense of its being a song. It wasn’t just lyrics, it was everything: the arrangement, production, the subtlety of repetitive chords that made the ending refrain’s sudden change that much more beautiful. Damn! It’s still so good.
The Velvet Underground – Candy Says
I spent a lonely summer in northern California when I was 18 during which I drove around a lot. I picked the VU’s self-titled CD up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it was a bit of the Wilco effect, except in this case I had never heard lower fidelity, tape-y, dark music. “Candy Says” punched me in the gut, the way Reed laconically says “I’ve come to hate my body / and all that it requires in this world.”
Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
My friend suggested we listen to this loudly in the car, saying it’s underrated and overlooked. This is a song you hear most frequently because it comes on, not because you put it on, and it’s worth the intention of the latter. The lyrics are very good, they’re bitingly angry. The chorus is in a whole other key and it’s perfect. This song taught me about the maximal and transcendental quality of reverberating mid-tempo rockers.
Nina Simone – Sinnerman
I first got into Ms. Simone because of the song “Don’t Smoke in Bed,” a gorgeously small and emotional tune. But “Sinnerman” is a twelve minute epic of both her mastery of voice and instrument. It’s a band in a room, their chemistry, and you can feel the dominance of Nina Simone’s vision. She’s this force and impetus, and to play in her band must have been quite a thing. This one imparts the power of chemistry.
Randy Newman – Marie
First heard this in college and thought it was just OK. I came around about five years later to thinking this is one of the most beautiful songs of all time. These tender, beautiful chords being set against lyrics like “when you’re in trouble, I turn away,” that counterpoint just drives me wild. Again, it’s admitting that though love feels outside our control, mystical and intangible, when exerted by humans it’s as flawed as we are.