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Stars Pick Their Top 5: North by North

click to enlarge North by North: Not your dad’s classic rock

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North by North: Not your dad’s classic rock

At this point, there's no novelty in a male/female scuzzy garage-rock two-piece. Good thing 'cause Chi-town's North By North don't need novelty. They float on pure skill and songwriting. Aesthetically, they're a rare treat; sure, they look like an aptly indifferent indie combo in an indie flick about disillusioned kids in a small-town band. But theirs is the frolicsome sort of trashy nihilism, punctuated with some genuine prog-rock breaks, that make for an extremely listenable and formable, dream-stoked din. In other words, they're alluring as hell. It's about release and introspection. Huh? We down here at TW HQ can't recommend them enough. They play Tucson this week, so we spoke to singer/guitarist Nate Girard and badass drummer Kendra Black about the five albums that altered their lives.

With Jillian & the Giants and Miss Abysmal on Thursday, June 8 at 8 p.m., The Flycatcher, 340 E. 6th St.

click to enlarge Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II
  • Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II

1. Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II: I grew up listening to my dad's classic rock, and when I first started writing my own music on guitar, this album was a turning point for me stylistically and started a lifelong love of heavy, riffy guitar-driven rock. This laid the groundwork for all my writing and is still heavily influential on the music I'm writing now, specifically the instrumentation and songwriting.

click to enlarge Queens of the Stone Age—Lullabies to Paralyze
  • Queens of the Stone Age—Lullabies to Paralyze

2. Queens of the Stone Age—Lullabies to Paralyze: This album came out my junior year of high school and helped me take the first steps out of my "classic" rock phase as a songwriter. This was the first album that made me realize that guitar solos are not intrinsically required to write a kick-ass rock song.

click to enlarge Blitzen Trapper—Destroyer of the Void
  • Blitzen Trapper—Destroyer of the Void

3. Blitzen Trapper—Destroyer of the Void: This album really helped me to appreciate high-concept albums that incorporate different influences and employ avant-garde arrangements. It also set the bar for me to start expanding my range of influences in my own writing.

Kendra Blank

click to enlarge Dead Weather—Sea of Cowards
  • Dead Weather—Sea of Cowards

4. Dead Weather—Sea of Cowards: The bass and synth tones from this album hugely influenced the keyboard tones I used during the tracking and live performance of our first two albums, and I still vow to write a bass riff as crunchy as that in "Gasoline." Similarly, the drumbeats that fit perfectly with the music are a huge influence for me now that I'm behind the kit. 

click to enlarge Band of Skulls—Death By Diamonds and Pearls
  • Band of Skulls—Death By Diamonds and Pearls

5. Band of Skulls—Death By Diamonds and Pearls: This album represents a turning point in my (previously immature high school) musical tastes as one of the first guitar-driven bands that I genuinely enjoyed. I also appreciate that Emma, the bassist, puts her music and her visual art at the forefront and doesn't use her femininity as a crutch or to "sell" the band.

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