EXCLUSIVE: 5 Albums That Influenced Duke of Norfolk’s Adam Howard

Duke of Norfolk – “Attendre et Espérer’ is available @ Bandcamp.

duke of norfolk

by Adam Howard

Here are a handful of albums that have notably shaped the way my music sounds. I know full well that I’m notably influenced by everything that I listen to (read or experience) and that five albums isn’t even an exhaustive list of even the most important. But these are five that readily come to mind and stick out to me as especially noteworthy. (I’ve listed them in order of release date)

Radiohead – OK Computer

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I think Radiohead are one of the most inventive and globally influential still-active bands. OK
Computer was the first album of theirs that I listened to; my friend and high school bandmate,
Cameron gave me a burnt copy of OK Computer, as well as Radiohead’s The Bends and
Sufjan Steven’s Illinois (next on the list). While our high school band was playing Dispatch & U2
covers, I feel like deep down we all wanted to be doing something more like Radiohead*. One
of the things that I’ve always loved about Radiohead is their relationship to technology and that
was something that drew me to OK Computer. When I first heard ‘Fitter Happier’—one of the
track’s that primarily a monologue by the almost Stephen Hawkins sounding ‘Fred’ from the
1990s Macintosh’s text-to-speech app—I thought it was disconcerting and uncomfortable but
ultimately I think the strange and uncomfortable elements of the album are the things that have
made it so compelling to me.

I remember at one of the high school talent shows, Ryan Hansard’s band (Ryan was one of the
kids at school that everyone liked and that everyone knew played guitar) played ‘Paranoid
Android’ and they did it so well and I had some large amount of envy about it.

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

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As I mentioned in the Radiohead note, my high school bandmate Cameron (who, it happens,
played cello on my new album) gave me a burnt copy of Illinois in high school. Sufjan’s music
has persisted in being exceedingly inspiring to me. I find Illinois—like most of Sufjan’s work—to
be incredible on every front; the project is ambitious and thoroughly researched**, the record
flows tremendously well (with nice little orchestral ditties linking many of the songs), and was
recorded & produced entirely by Sufjan himself on a nearly non-existent budget. This last point
has made this album doubly important to my music because it inspired to persist in recording
my own music. It was hugely important for me in recognizing that you don’t have to have a
large budget and a lot of resources to carry out a grand-scaled / ambitious idea.***

**he studied immigration and criminal records of the state, read history books, and interviewed
friends about their experiences living in Illinois as well as strangers in internet chat rooms.

***honorable mention goes to Ghost by Radical Face for grand-scale DYI production
encouragement. Ben Cooper was easily one of my biggest inspirations when I first started
recording music.

Tunng – Good Arrows

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You all published a review of my new album, Attendre et Espérer, under the heading “What is Folktronica?”, Tunng are the band for which I first was introduced to the terms ‘folktronic’ & folktronica’. Their album Good Arrows was one of the albums that I was really into when I started writing music of my own and when I was getting into recording. I thought it was so incredible listening to ‘Bullets’ and hearing the percussion composed of all these cranks and wind-up toys.

There’s a certain sort of curiosity about their music that I find really compelling. it’s very earnest and, though there’s a lot of wisdom & maturity in their music, that element of curiosity comes across to me as really pure and almost innocent.

Wovoka Gentle – Wovoka Gentle EP (Red)

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Wovoka Gentle are a band that a friend of a friend recommended to me. I was at a backyard
barbecue in Edinburgh while I was working on my Masters dissertation on the intersection of
folk & electronic music and talking about that subject with my friend’s friend Aniela who said
something like ‘I just did some choreography for this band in London that fits that description,
I’ll send you a link to their music’. She did and I’ve been fairly obsessed with their music ever
since. Their red EP (as well as the two EPs they released prior to it) are the biggest sonic
inspiration for my new album. Their music is really something very special.
This performance is amazing:

This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze

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This Is The Kit is a band that I find myself talking about all the time. There’s something
undeniably comforting and familiar about their music. Someone wrote on the bandcamp page
for their album Bashed Out, ‘I like to compare this album to a woolen vest you might have had
for ages: warm, honest, very comfortable and immensely pleasing every time.’ I think that’s
roughly how I feel about all of their stuff. I also find it all to be supremely clever, both lyrically
and musically. Just have a listen to the title track from the album…

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