LESSER ANIMALS Share 5 Impactful Albums + The Feeling Is Real LP
Lesser Animals has existed, in some form or another, for 12 years. Throughout that time, I’ve been inspired by countless artists and records. It’s hard not to pull little pieces of everything I hear into my writing – something I don’t enjoy has as much of an impact as something I love in many cases. There have, of course, been a handful that have played larger roles in our ethos, and I’d love to share what they are and why they made such an enormous impact.
Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing (2009)
When I started Lesser Animals in Scranton, PA towards the end of my high school years, this was what I listened to in the comfort of my white Jeep Patriot on the way to school, to see friends, to play shows, and just to go somewhere. Andy Hull is a very vulnerable and interesting songwriter. Beyond that, his vocal performances throughout this record are these sort of frenetic bursts, focusing on the raw emotion of his words. Add in a bombastic rhythm section, textured by layers of distortion and touches of synth and organ. I was still very much a kid, and this weirdly mature rumination on adolescent angst and religious guilt was right on time for me.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (2010)
There are some albums that you can remember exactly where you were in time and space when you first heard them. I had just started what would prove to be a short stint at Temple University, and a friend had me over for dinner at his place in Fishtown. He had just bought Halcyon Digest; I hadn’t heard of Deerhunter, but he was excited as he put it on through his incredibly nice speakers in his living room. We listened, mostly in silence, from cover to cover, and I was immediately hooked. Bradford Cox has remained one of my favorite writers, prolific in his output and cosmic in his scope. We even did a cover of “Helicopter” out on the road for a while, and I went out and picked up an EHX Memory Boy in honor of the track so named. Most of this album is still on heavy rotation for me 10+ years later.
My Bloody Valentine – m b v (2013)
Late in the evening on February 2, 2013, Noel called me and told me that a day we had both been long looking forward to had finally, actually come: m b v was released. While I still prefer Loveless, this album completely rocked me. It seemed like it was a myth, that Kevin Shields and the gang would never put anything out again, content to live in the spaces of music history reserved for mystics, enigmas, and hermits. I mean, they’d already made a perfect record, so they’re off the hook, right? m b v is a sonic masterpiece, in my mind a different, but ultimately equally perfect album that I got to experience in real time. As much as I love the insane amounts of effects and beautiful walls of sound, I love the vocals and chord progressions even more. We aren’t a shoegaze band by any means, but I wrote “For Real” while I was in the arms of m b v, and there have been a few versions of the song that lived in that space.
Big Thief – Capacity (2017)
Capacity caught me between the eyes. Big Thief is the band I name when people ask me that often impossible question, “Who’s your favorite band?” It started with this one, and it was the song “Mythological Beauty” that pulled me in deep. It’s so hypnotic, so accessible, but so effortlessly cool. And unbearably beautiful. I love this approach to songwriting – Adrianne Lenker seems to be a poet first, like our generation’s John Prine, telling these stories with elevated language that still finds a way to be direct and universal.
Mistki – Be The Cowboy (2018)
Mistki has always had this way of delivering these visceral, cutting songs in such a perfect package. Everything from the way her voice sits in the mix, to the excellent and confounding instrumentation, to the confessional words she chooses. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from her here, but my favorite and the one I’ve incorporated the most into my own sound is that it’s ok if you don’t come across like a hero in your work. Also, “Nobody” has been my favorite song for going on three years and I never skip it when it comes on.
LESSER ANIMALS the feeling is real
+ Paraselene (2012)
Band photo courtesy Public Display PR
Vocals – James Sanderson
Guitars – James Sanderson, Mike T Kerr, Noel Friesen
Bass – Mike T Kerr, Noel Friesen, Kevin Dempsey
Drums – Zach Wheeler
Organ – Noel Friesen
Alto/baritone Sax – Kim Wheeler
All songs were written by James Sanderson, Lesser Animals
Engineered and produced by Kim Wheeler
Mastered by James Krivchenia
Cover art by Susan M Davies
“Mastered by James Krivchenia (Big Thief) and featuring collaborators Mike T. Kerr, Noel Friesen, Zach Wheeler, and producer Kim Wheeler, The Feeling is Real faces the past head-on, aiming to make people understand the anxiety Sanderson feels without truly having to experience it first-hand. It’s twinkly and jarring, under-ridden by sharply produced guitar and bass phrasings that play with melancholic tensions, oddball time signatures, and the relationship and reconciliation between specific and abstract.” – bio via Public Display PR