By Larissa Tandy, Contributing Writer
[Ed. – This was a “cold submission” by a longtime follower (and artist in her own right.) We were delighted.]
A good friend once told me their favourite genre was Yearncore. I thought it was funny at the time, but I also knew exactly what they were talking about: that atmosphere that exists in some songs; distant, but intimate; foreign, but familiar. Growing up queer in a small town in Australia before the Internet existed, songs with that atmosphere really spoke to me. When I put out a new song of my own this week, “Sirens” [clip at bottom], the same friend called me to say they appreciated my new Yearncore release.
While the abject loneliness of life as a queer kid in a small town is in the past for me, new songs with that atmosphere still appear, and speak to me the same way, probably hitting me even harder. It’s so satisfying when a new song brings on nostalgia while giving me a glimpse into a world I don’t yet know.
These aren’t necessarily queer artists or queer songs, but that doesn’t matter. They feel queer to me. I’ve always listened to songs and read them as queer narratives, I still do it now.
Lucinda Williams – “Essence (live at the Fillmore)”
I was driving to my stupid job at 5am one morning, when this version of “Essence” came on the radio. I’d never heard of Lucinda before. Can you imagine? Life before Lucinda Williams? I got to work, and called the station to find out what it was.
Mount Moriah – “Lament”
It’s the tambourine and the handclaps and the aaaaahs all the way to the end for me. I could listen to this on repeat, for hours.
Heartless Bastards – “The Fool”
I was driving through rural Manitoba, and I pulled the car over so quickly and violently when I heard this song, that my tourmate woke up thinking we had crashed.
Patty Griffin – “Blue Sky”
In the late 90s, a girl from Utah who was the girlfriend of the brother of one of my six roommates, gave me a copy of “Flaming Red.” I think she was the first american I ever met. Looking back, this planted a seed. Americana had crept into my teenage consciousness via Springsteen, Mellencamp, and Counting Crows on the radio, but this hit different. I wanted to find this rabbit hole and fall into it.
Mia Dyson – When the Moment comes
It’s so affirming. Don’t know what you want or how to get it? Don’t worry. Nobody does.
Sheryl Crow – “If It Makes You Happy”
Who didn’t want someone to reach into their world and say all of this to them? I will never get sick of this song and I will never get over it.
Drive by Truckers – “Daylight”
Isbell era Truckers records are so satisfying. There’s a perfect balance of frustration and equanimity in Jason Isbell’s delivery of these lyrics. Like, everything is complicated, but I could probably push through if I really wanted to.
Maya Devitry – My Body Is a Letter
Did this come out last year? Or twenty years ago? Because it feels timeless. Produced by Dan Knobler, who played on and mixed the songs I’m releasing at the moment.
Rose Cousins – “Freedom”
This song recently caught me off guard. Driving alone one night, listening to the radio. When I stopped at the lights, I realised I was crying. I don’t know why.
Gillian Welch – “Revelator”
That line. “Watch the waves and move the fader” transports me from sitting on the beach, to sitting in the studio. Adjusting the volume and presence of all the different things in your life, trying to find balance. For me, this is a perfect moment in a song.
Bonus track: Ana Egge – “Girls Girls Girls”
Back before the Internet, if you wanted to find community, or love, you had to go to the city, and find that one bar you’d heard of. And if you met someone you liked but were too scared to ask for their phone number, you had to hope they’d be there again the next time you went. That seems so intense now.
Larissa Tandy – “Sirens”
“Sirens” isn’t autobiographical, but it features a few key elements of my youth: the yearning, the constant danger of wiping out (permanently), the recklessness driven by loneliness, and the tension of being in love with someone when it wasn’t safe to admit to it.