• Black Vinyl LP | • Black Vinyl LP (Loser Edition) | • Tape * Sometimes commercially successful music is intelligent, but usually its cerebralness turns into boring, self-referential introspection when the makers break through at the latest. It is therefore remarkable that Jenn Wasner, a decade after »Civilian", the triumphant success of her band Wye Oak, has just released her most personal and at the same time substantially far-reaching album with her solo project Flock of Dimes: »Head Of Roses« manages to be both a non-banal country-pop album and to tell of heartbreak without getting lost in self-reference. But the multi-instrumentalist has demonstrated her knack for complexity much earlier. Jennifer Lynn Wasner, born in Baltimore in 1986, formed the duo that later became Wye Oak together with Andy Stack in high school, and from then on blithely ignored music-industry to-do lists and simplistic recipes for success. After their breakthrough, the two unexpectedly picked up new instruments to push their guitar-music-souled folk-rock fans out of their comfort zone with danceable but twisted shoegaze on subsequent albums. »I know my place / It’s a place I’ve never been though« Wasner lyricised clear-sightedly in her early 20s. In her place, you can hear, she still isn’t – fortunately for all of us. In a haunting way, she describes it ex negativo, through a kind of exclusion procedure, in the ever new exploration of other musical places. Be it the synth-driven disco-RnB with band project number 3, Dungeonesse, or her numerous side engagements (with Sharon van Etten and Bon Iver, among others): when it comes to experimentation, the self-proclaimed perfectionist outdoes herself again and again, her collaborations are as diverse as her influences. »It takes courage to believe in chaos« is Wye Oak’s motto, Wasner told Interview Magazine. And because it takes at least a lot of courage to build intersubjective approaches to one’s own ego confusion that also sound damn cool and sophisticated, the saying can also serve as a slogan for the musician Jenn Wasner.
1 – Cocteau Twins – Heaven Or Las Vegas (4AD) (1990) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: One of the most strikingly unique and emotionally affecting records I can think of. Proof that deep emotion can exist outside of the confines of language.
2 – Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me (Audika) (2008) | Vinyl 2LP
Jenn Wasner: I could have chosen almost any Arthur Russell record, because there are few artists who have had more of an impact on me and whose music has meant more to me over the years. I keep coming back to this one because it’s such incredible proof of the depth of his range as a writer and composer. He’s taking so many different forms here and they all sound real and vital and human. He was one of the great geniuses of our time, I think.
3 – Roberto Cacciapaglia –The Ann Steel Album (Glance) (1979)
Jenn Wasner: An odd and mysterious record that brings me so much joy. Also the outfit she wears on the cover is the reason I started wearing jumpsuits on stage.
4 – Laurie Anderson- Mister Heartbreak (Warner) (1984)###*
*Jenn Wasner:** There are many different ways to tell a story in song, and Laurie’s is all her own. This is such a beautifully and thoughtfully arranged record, and also a reminder that language is its own instrument, too.
5 – Kate Bush – The Sensual World (Parlophone) (1989) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: There is certainly no shortage of perfect KB records, and there are certainly songs from other records that are equally as affecting, but as a record and complete statement, I think this is my favorite.
6 – Joni Mitchell – Hejira (Rhino) (1976) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: The reason I started writing music, and a record that has revealed itself to me in layers as I’ve gotten older and learned more about life, and myself. I have a feeling it will continue to do so; I’m sure it still contains truths that I have yet to understand.
7 – Beverly Glenn Copeland – Keyboard Fantasies (Transgressive) (1986) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: When I hear this record I am reminded that music is one of the most powerful forces of healing on earth. Glenn’s music is a balm, so soothing and pure, and I’m so grateful for it.
8 – Smog – Red Apple Falls (Drag City) (1997) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: Bill Callahan is one of my favorite lyricists, and he writes so perfectly for his own voice—his songs sound natural coming from him, but are almost impossible for others to inhabit (believe me, I’ve tried.)
9 – Björk – Vespertine (Polydor) (2001) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: I feel so lucky to have discovered this record when I was young and still finding my own creative voice. What a gift, to be able to create something with such raw power that still sounds so fragile and intimate.
10 – Judee Sill – Heart Food (Elektra) (1973) | Vinyl LP
Jenn Wasner: One of the most under-appreciated records I can think of. It’s absolutely stunning from start to finish. The first time I heard “The Kiss” I felt spirits moving in the room. It (quite literally) haunted me. And it still does.