THIS IS YOUR LIST NOW #5 with Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
With THIS IS YOUR LIST NOW, I ask artists to fill out a set of lists about the music in their lives. For the fifth THIS IS YOUR LIST NOW, Kip Berman, frontman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, was nice enough to complete the lists.
First Album You Ever Bought
It was probably a Weird Al Yankovic record. As I got to be a teenager, I remember buying Papas Fritas’ s/t album and Yo La Tengo’s “Electr-O-Pura” at Repo Records in Bryn Mawr. I listened to both of those a lot, and I’m still pretty convinced that they’re classics.
First Band You Truly Cared About
Plow United - They lived pretty close to where I lived (Philadelphia suburbs - West Chester Rock City!) and played local all ages DIY shows. They seemed like “stars” in a weird way, even though they just played house shows, the YWCA and the Unitarian Church basement. I think they wrote really good songs, and their first two records were a definite soundtrack for me and my friends. I also cared a lot about Weston, because their lyrics seemed like my life, but they lived slightly further away (Allentown, PA) so I didn’t get to see them play as much.
Five Favorite Albums
This list changes all the time.
Margo Guryan - Take a Picture
The Pastels - Sittin’ Pretty
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
The Aislers Set - The Last Match
Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic
Five Most Underrated/Under-reported Bands
The Prids - I never want to put other bands down to talk about why a band is great, but The Prids were (and still are) so utterly correct. There were a lot of “post punk” sort of bands in the 2000s that tried to do the “sad teenagers for life” thing, but most of them felt so superficial. The Prids are vivid and intense people, and their music channels all those things that makes you remember that music really can be all consuming and MATTER. They live communally, play tons of benefit shows for good causes and make incredible records.
My Favorite - This band was at the wrong place at the wrong time. They were playing this emphatic, romantic indiepop (with a strong undercurrent of actual punk) a few years before it became “acceptable” to have a keyboard on stage at indie rock shows. I’m not sure if people understand how musically conservative indie rock was in the 90s and early 2000s. It was almost all sweaty dudes with guitars singing about not trying very hard and feeling whatever. There were obvious exceptions like Helium, Sarge, Stereolab and the more gender balanced bands on Kill Rock Stars, K Records, Sarah and tons of smaller labels. But for the most part, My Favorite were completely at odds with the indie scene of their era and never really caught on as more than a cult thing. All but one member have formed a new band in a similar vein called The Secret History that are also very good.
Evans the Death - They’re fantastic. I don’t know why they’re not famous. The world sucks sometimes.
Fear of Men - We got to play some shows with Fear of Men in France, and I really fell in love with their music. They’re the sort of band that takes a while to appreciate. Their songs are well-written, but subtle. They have a collection of early singles on Kanine Records called “Early Fragments” well worth listening to.
Felt - Their claim to fame is that they made ten immensely great records and are almost as immensely unknown. So maybe if everyone loved Felt as much as I did, they’d just vanish. Still, I wish Cherry Red would at least re-issue their albums. I played one of their records for my mom, and she really liked it, which is how I determine if music is timeless or just a fad.
Five Current Artists Worth Listening To
Wild Nothing - Jack Tatum’s songwriting feels really unforced. Some bands sound like they’re always “going for it,” but Wild Nothing knows where it is they want to be and will arrive at it in their own time. It’s hard to explain, but his songs sound confident in themselves without ever seeming boastful.
The Ice Choir - Kurt [Feldman]’s definitely the best musician in Pains. His new project, The Ice Choir is really remarkable and sincere. Afar is a beautiful record.
Veronica Falls - I think they’re the best indiepop band around right now. The drummer is from Scotland, and like a lot of Scottish bands (Teenage Fanclub, The Pastels, Vaselines, Orange Juice, etc.) they have that perfect balance between sweet and dirty. Maybe the other members are from England and are really offended if I say the band sounds Scottish, but I only mean it as a complement. “Teenage,” the first single from their new record, is probably my favorite song of 2013.
Weekend - They are dark. So dark. Their new record comes out this summer and from what I hear it’s very good.
Flowers - They have a 7” on Cloudberry Records and one on Odd Box Records. They are pretty special, and I think some of their best songs have yet to be released, so keep an eye out for them.
Favorite Show You Have Ever Attended
Belle and Sebastian on September 11, 2001 in Portland, OR. I just wanted the world not to end, and seeing one of my favorite bands just go on stage and play the songs I loved really meant a lot to me.
Favorite Show You Have Ever Played
Chorlton Irish Center in Manchester - This venue was just an old workingman’s hall. It smelled nasty, it was hot and sweaty. I don’t mean to romanticize those things, but the show was just perfect in a way that’s nearly impossible to replicate.
Five Artists You Would Love to Work With
I just don’t really think this way. I like making our records the way we make them. Whoever happens to be in Pains is who I want to make records with.
Five Bands that Deserve a Resurgence in Popularity
Manhattan Love Suicides
The House of Love
Thanks Kip! Check out the Pains music at:
Stay tuned for more entries to come! - Alex Cunningham