Josh The Cat is Melbourne singer, songwriter, producer and guitar FX pedal addict Joshua Teicher’s dreamy funk pop project that is GUARANTEED to get you boogieing. His latest single ‘I’ll Remember You’ is a Daft Punk x Beck lovechild which he is taking on the road this month. In preparation, we had a chat to him about 10 songs that make him go “wow”.
Josh: This is not my top all time songs, I could write for the rest of my life if I started down that path, but this is just the first ones that had a really vivid “wow” memory for me at midnight when I wrote this
Mark Morrison – ‘Return of the Mack’
Pop at it’s best. A master stroke. The chorus is just such a winner. It’s got a kind of call and response between the lead and the counter lead vocal that just invites you to become that person and singalong while you boogie. That awesome funky guitar and bass and that beat gets me up every time when it starts. It’s not a new concept in pop, where the person has been cheated on by their partner, but Mark Morrison sings like he is the first person to have ever experienced it (that opening “You Lied to me..”) and I think it’s such a banging track because it is also triumphant, he is returning, he is back, he is getting on top of things. Also, have you seen the video? He is so damn cool in his black turtle neck, black sunglasses, full length leather jacket and he splits into three duplicates of himself so he can be seen singing all the overlapping lines in the chorus – genius!
Icehouse – ‘Great Southern Land’
I remember hearing this track as a little kid in the Australian kids film Young Einstein featuring Yahoo Serious. It takes place at point where the character is wandering through the desert on an intense journey. The film and the song was my first glimpse, as a suburban Melbourne kid, at Australia’s breadth and wildness and indifference and it was kind of eerie and magical – this song nailed that, or encapsulated that. It’s not a song about patriotism, which the title might suggest, but a song about the beauty in nature and how infinitely small we are in it all. At least that’s how I hear it. When that eerie synth begins and then the chug of those 80s guitars kicks in gets me every time.
The Beatles – ‘She’s Leaving Home’
My parents separated twice in my childhood and I felt dislocated and often wanted to escape the unhappiness and sense of being alone. This song beautifully tells the story of a young person running away from a home for a new life, and whilst it was a different story to mine, it really resonated with my feelings of isolation and being in a very sad homelife. But it’s also quite poignant how it captures the shock and sadness of the parents perspective finding their daughter gone. The way the voices overlap in the chorus, the simple but solid string arrangement, the incredibly vivid and measured story telling and Paul’s yearning cracking vocal delivery – amazing. (Note- I think The Beatles, whilst known for excelling at many things, are oft overlooked at being masters of melancholy.)
Fever Ray – ‘When I Grow Up’
Karin Dreijer Andersson songwriting and sonic vision is just amazing. I first heard her from the duo with her brother The Knife. The first Fever Ray album is brilliant and this song in particular just blew me away with it’s wonderful minimalism, crisp synths and beats and her fantastic vocal delivery. It’s somehow cold but all the more human for it. I love how she sings about very domestic things but pulls a universal and poetic human experience out of it, reminds me of how David Byrne/Talking Heads uses imagery.
I’d like to add that with The Knife she wrote Heartbeats which was covered by Jose Gonzales and I think is testament to the power of her writing which can work in a folk context.
RZA as Bobby Digital – ‘B.O.B.B.Y.’
I just love those anthemic hip hop tracks and this is a classic from one of the east coast masters, the RZA, of Wu-Tang. It’s just so bold, impressive and hilarious that someone would create an alter ego and then have a chant around the name spelling out each letter, “The B, the O, the B, The B….BOBBY DIGITAL” – brilliant. I’m a big fan of Wu-Tang’s minimal dusty production style too, this track is a fine example. I particularly like how when he spells out the name, at the point where he repeats it, that Bobby Digital is 12 letters and he says it letter on each beat (“The B, the O, the B, The B….”) so the number of bars of the cycle ends up being 3 (3x4beats =12) and so the normal 2 or 4 bar regular structure is broken and it creates this unstable but nice kind of rolling feeling. Nerdy, but true. The chorus of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes also does this.
Ryuichi Sakamoto – ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’
I love the work of Sakamoto and it is so wide ranging that I’m not going to attempt to encapsulate it here. This song has a few different versions but the one I want to hone in on is the original from the film of the same name. It’s about Australian and British Prisoners of War with the Japanese and it stars David Bowie, Jack Thompson and Sakamoto also plays the role of a Japanese solider in it as well as writing the soundtrack. This song is just so moving to me and once again shows how Sakamoto can wring so much out of so little.
Michael Jackson – ‘Remember The Time’
This is more than gold, it’s like a precious gem from another planet.
Grizzly Bear – ‘Two Weeks’
That cracking dusty distorted Wurlitzer keys at the start of the song, the baseline counterpoint, and then those “Wooohoh’s” are just incredible. And that ride cymbal that comes in and out in the peaks of the song and the waves of additional keyboard motifs are just cool, like you’re floating in space. It’s just an amazing sonic journey and when it came out was just such a fresh and refreshing sound, old yet new. It really inspired me to want to find my own sound and that alternative music was strong and relevant.
The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘1979’
This song randomly starts playing in my head about once a week, maybe more. When I heard it in high school I felt like Billy’s melancholy and his fatalistic kind of acceptance of everything was speaking to me. Somehow the song kind of suspends a moment in time, a memory of a sweet moment that inevitably we can’t hold onto forever and the beauty of understanding that all things pass. “We don’t know where our bones will rest, to dust I guess, Forgotten and absorbed to the earth below” I think the idea is that he is singing a song about when he was younger, caught up in the moment of new and exciting experiences and trying to make sense of that as an older person looking back fondly. Now that I write that I think that it’s kind of weird that I liked that perspective as a kid.
I read recently in an interview that they had a drum machine and then Jimmy Chamberlain played drums over that to replace it but then they liked the way they sounded together. I always loved that sound and rhythmic feel and now I see why. Also the wonderful sparkly guitars that work with the drums and that open string major chord riff and there are these magical little nuggets of sound that poke their head throughout the song if you keep your ears open. Sonic bliss.
David Bowie – ‘I’m Deranged’
I’m a big Bowie fan and like a lot of his classics. But I first heard this song, and was blown away, during the closing credits/end sequence of David Lynch’s Lost Highway film. It’s such a burning vocal performance, it’s sizzling, and I love the frenetic electronic percussion and that percussive guitar and the synth bass line. It’s really bizarre but wonderful and electric. It’s more Bowie than Bowie. Bowie can go to some dark places and this is one of the darkest, and the best.
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