These “Musical Influences” posts have been a lot of fun so far. I love getting to know what bands or artists were listening to that brought them to where they are. Sometimes you get a lot of unexpected things that change the way you hear their music. Common Shiner’s list, which they made as a band instead of one spokesperson, is all over the map, but I can’t deny the greatness of any of their picks (well, maybe Death Cab). You can catch Common Shiner at House Of Blues on Thursday October 17th with Terraplane Sun, Valo, and Mighty Fox. The show is presented by Q87.7FM. It’s got a nice early start time, so you can leave work and head right over-doors are at 5:30 and the show starts at 6:30.
If the influences below pique your interest, you can check out their album Before They Sold Out pt 2 on their Bandcamp page.
I imagine most bands sort of start off with their “duh” types of picks, and
as a songwriter, I think just about all of us have been influenced by Bob
Dylan, as he’s the greatest songwriter ever. There are obviously any number
of songs that could be picked, but I’ve always loved Times Are a-Changing.
This is a band that doesn’t necessarily come to mind for people when they
listen to us, but the intricacy of Bad Religion’s lyrical writing, and their
political awareness have been a big influence in what we write about, and
how we craft our songs. While we don’t use nearly as big of words as they
do, I’d like to think that our songs are well spoken and well sung. I’ve
picked Skyscraper, as it’s one of my favorite types of songs, in that it
takes a metaphor and uses it throughout the entire song.
Given our use of piano in a rock band, Ben Folds certainly has influenced
us. He also is one of those songwriters who writes prolifically and at the
same time creates some of the catchiest tunes in the world. He definitely
has shown us that songs can be catchy AND meaningful. One of our favorites,
and the only Ben Folds song we’ve ever covered is Zak and Sara, so that’s my
Death Cab for Cutie
Ben Gibbard is most certainly one of the best songwriters of our generation,
and one of the things I love about his writing is his ability to capture
melancholy in a meaningful and non-sappy way. His songs feel so human and
broken, and ultimately incredibly beautiful. A perfect example of that is
Brothers on a Hotel Bed, so that’s my pick here.
Motion City Soundtrack
Our most recent album Before They Sold Out Part II has been compared to
Motion City Soundtrack several times, and their combination of poppy-ness
and heaviness has definitely been an influence on our newer songs. Their
songs are so much fun, but also pack a punch. Point of Extinction is a
great example of that, and my personal favorite of theirs.
Such beautiful piano melodies from Bruce Hornsby have been an influence to
us as well. Our newer tunes have gotten heavier, but the driving piano
melodies certainly never left us, and how can you not love That’s Just the
Way it Is.
In a very similar vain to Ben Folds, if you’re playing any sort of piano
rock, it’s hard to not be influenced by the great Billy Joel. There are any
number of tunes we could have picked here too, but I went with Only the Good
A more recent love and influence of ours, the Scottish boys from Frightened
Rabbit have the incredible talent of combining true gut wrenching emotion
and incredibly poetic language. I’ve said before that their songs “destroy
me in the best possible way”, and Modern Leper is one of the best examples
It’s hard to top Sufjan when it comes to inventive songwriters of our
generation. I love how there’s so many instruments on his albums, and even
things that aren’t even technically instruments. Adding layers in creative
ways has been a big influence on us from Sufjan for sure, and my favorite
example of that is The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us!
(we’ve also been known to use really long titles for our songs from time to
To round out our top 10 influences, it’s hard to not include Jeff Buckley on
the list. When it comes to heart felt vocals, it’s hard to top Jeff
Buckley, and we like to sing with our heart on our sleeves as well. It
might be a little too obvious, but I have to go with Buckley’s cover of
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen as my pick here.