Music List | posted 07.01.2021
Aaron Frazer
10 All Time Favs
»Introducing« is the name of Aaron Frazer’s first solo album. As the drummer of Durand Jones & The Indications, however, he is by no means an unknown name. So musically it’s off to the sixties. He tells us what actually influenced him musically.
Text Christoph Benkeser , Translation Sebastian Hinz

Aaron Frazer – Introducing…Find it at Pink Glass Vinyl Slipmat LP | Pink Glass Vinyl LP | Black Vinyl LP * First impressions count. When Aaron Frazer introduces himself, he puts some pomade in his hair, puts on a Motown record from the 60s and warbles in a falsetto that would make any youngster shiver in awe. With »Introduction«, his solo debut, he leaves not just one, but a whole stack of calling cards. By chance, you might think. But the man with the cornrow is no pseudo-Elvis who accidentally grabs his crotch. Frazer is more the type with whom you squeeze the swag out of cowboy boots after five milkshakes in the diner. Growing up in Bloomington, Indiana, his mother put two drumsticks in his hands when he was nine. At home, records by the Jackson Five and Carole King are spinning. At ten, he loses his innocence – when Jay-Z clacks out of the radio for him for the first time. »When I heard hip-hop, it totally lit up my head,« Frazer says in conversation with Liv Toerkell. At college he founded the soul band Durand Jones & The Indications with friends. Since then he has been sitting behind the drums and at some point learned from Black Keys records how to sound as if he came from the Nashville of the Sixties and not from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Fitting, then, that Frazer travelled to Country Music City to record at Easy Eye Studio for his solo debut. »To be that good on the drums and sing like that at the same time, it really grabbed me,« says Dan Auerbach. The Black Keys frontman should know. After all, he worked with Frazer and guided him to give enough space on the disc not only to his own soul influences, but also to his love of gospel and hip-hop. And you can tell: »Introducing« sounds as if an undiscovered Stax talent from the late 60s had been dug up on Discogs, freshly polished up and beamed into the present with the knowledge of 20th century music history – with the difference that Aaron Frazer brings his own beats. He has exclusively revealed to us which Vinyl records have shaped, found and inspired him.

Youz can find the Vinyl Records of Aaron Frazer in the HHV Records Webshop.

Curtis Mayfield – Curtis 1 – Curtis Mayfield – Curtis (Rhino) (1970) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: This album is my north star. It’s one I come back to again and again for inspiration, grounding and direction. He was able to express his entire self on this record with moments of tenderness, political fury, hope for the future and despair. The lessons in his words are still so crucial and timely. The lyrics, the production, the arranging- it’s a front to back treasure.

Carole King - Tapestry 2 – Carole King – Tapestry (Sony) (1971) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: My mom used to play this all the time when I was growing up, but no matter how many times I hear it, I’m always blown away by the absolute masterclass in songwriting. Like what the hell. It’s so understated and stripped down: with barely more than a voice and piano, you can sit back and marvel at just how good the songcraft is. It makes sense several of these songs also went on to be huge hits for other artists- the source material is as good as it gets.

Nas – Illmatic 3 – Nas – Illmatic (Columbia) (1994) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: I used to put this album on and drum along with it til I knew every drum break. It was so tough, so poetic, so cinematic, so vivid. It unurls like a movie, with the clattering sound of the subway and the excerpt from the movie Wild Style immediately bringing you into New York City hip hop at a crossroads. It’s another album that could read like a greatest hits. I became obsessed with sample based hip hop through tracks like »The World Is Yours«, which ultimately brought me to soul music.

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin' 4 – Bob Dylan –The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Columbia) (1964) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: It’s a grim feat to write political music that still resonates so strongly decades later. Songs like »Only A Pawn In Their Game« and »With God on Our Side« cut to the core of this divisive moment, where racial relations are fraught, ethno-nationalism is on the rise, and class unity struggles to find footing.

Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Winter in America 5 – Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Winter in America (Strata-East) (1974) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: Like, »Curtis«, »Winter In America« is a record that expresses the full dimension of the artist. It can be silly, angry, tender, loving, grim or pointed- it’s all there, depending where you drop the needle. It’s an album that fights hard and remembers to celebrate what it’s fighting for.

Connie Converse – How Sad How Lovely 6 – Connie Converse – How Sad How Lovely (Squirrel Thing Recordings) (2009)
Aaron Frazer: The story behind Connie Converse is just as intriguing as the music itself. A folk musician in NYC before the folk revival, disappeared without a trace, only leaving behind this enchanting set of sophisticated folk songs. All on acoustic guitar in her friend’s kitchen, Connie’s songs have more to do with Gershwin than the Harry Smith Anthology. Some of the most beautiful, heartbreaking singer songwriter tunes ever made.

Link Wray – Link Wray (1971) 7 – Link Wray – Link Wray (Polydor) (1971)
Aaron Frazer: Recorded in a chicken shack on 3 tracks (1 channel was broken), Link Wray showed that his voice could carry as much power and ragged beauty as his iconic guitar tone. It’s full of songs that Van Morrison, Mick Jagger and The Band surely wish they wrote.

Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt 8 – Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (Roc-a-Fella Records) (1996)
Aaron Frazer: The epitome of sophisticated cool. On his debut, Jay Z carries the swagger, style, wit and menace of Sinatra in his prime. So damn good top to bottom, it’s the standard bearer for staying true to oneself while cracking the code of commercial appeal.

The Beatles – The White Album 9 – The Beatles – White Album (Apple) (1968) | Vinyl 4LP
Aaron Frazer: Look, I know a lot of people would say it’s not »cool« to pick a Beatles record, but records like the White Album are ubiquitous for a reason. Usually, double albums feel like they could have been trimmed down to a single disc. But this one is so jam packed with indispensable songs across such a wild range of styles- each half alone could go toe to toe with most artists’ best record.

Marvin Gaye - I Want You 10 – Marvin Gaye – I Want You (Motown) (1976) | Vinyl LP
Aaron Frazer: Few musicians have carved out such an unmistakable sound. It’s complexity never diminished the sensuality. It feels like a warm bath by candlelight- inviting and luxurious.

Youz can find the Vinyl Records of Aaron Frazer in the HHV Records Webshop.

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