7 songs: Saint Alto

Hey guys!

When I got the idea for our '7 songs' feature, I did not know if anyone would even enjoy it.

There's always a bit of a risk with new segments,
some turn into a new favourite,
others don't. At all.

Luckily this one is doing more than well - and not just you, the readers, are really digging it.
But also the artists themselves.
Of course that's a blogger's dream, so we're going to feature the hell out of this.
You better be ready!

Let's get to know today's DJ!

Saint Alto is the new moniker of Birmingham's Phil Barber who was previously known as one half of Winter 1982.
Refreshing Alternative Folk might be the best way to describe the sound, however, listeners are always in for a surprise.

Even though Saint Alto is still a new-ish project to the industry, BBC Introducing is already as excited about it as we are.
With a few songs out already, we've heard enough to become big fans.

So let's check out Phil's 7 songs.


1) a song which makes you dance
"Tainted Love" by Gloria Jones

It's a great song.
Such power, such rhythm.
I love the way Northern soul revived all these records and set them against the grimness of working Britain at that time.
It's pure energy and positivity but the lyrical content is so at odds with that and I love that about the song. It's a song that makes you get up and dance, but it's so much more complex than that too. Add to that an incredible vocal performance from Gloria Jones and I can't think of many better records.


2) a song that calms you down
"8 (circle)" by Bon Iver

This was really hard to choose, because I don't think I ever really listen to music to specifically calm me down.
I'm not a very calm person, and although music does all sorts of things to me and for me, I really had to think hard about something that calms me. The closest I could get, was Bon Iver's "8 (circle)" from the album "22, A Million".
I could have picked any number of songs from this incredible album. "8 (circle), like so many of the other tracks, drowns you in a kind of warm digital fuzz. The warmth of the vocal against cold digital sounds, creates this incredible, strange, 'new and familiar' feeling, that seems to slow down time.
It's a completely new take on the genre and I get almost immediately lost in these beautiful songs.
I read that Justin Vernon struggles with anxiety and that this became an element of the production of the record.
I think it translates so delicately into this immersive songs - they are somehow full of tension, and soothing at the same time.


3) a song with a deep meaning
"In Twenty Years Or So" by Father John Misty

For me, Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) is the best lyricist currently working.
His latest album, "Pure Comedy", is an incredible record that begins as this cutting, satirical attack on contemporary society and ends as this very human, very personal experience.
This song is the last on the album, and after so much talk of apocalypse, consumerism and religion, focuses in on a tiny life affirming moment, where for just a moment he is able to feel content.
It's a beautiful song and completes an amazing journey through the record. It makes me reflect and it makes me feel hopeful.
I'm sort of suggesting listening to the whole album, is that cheating?


 4) a song that makes you feel nostalgic
"Red Morning Light" by Kings of Leon

This was the soundtrack to so many sticky floored, cheap drinks, indie club nights.
Kings of Leon were part of a wave of American Indie (The Strokes, The Killers, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) that cut through to save us from such a poor period in music.
Pop Idol had just started, the charts were full of Gareth Gates, Hearsay, S Club 7, with totems of 90s Brit-Pop like Oasis losing momentum and quality.
That wave of Indie, along with new British Indie like Bloc Party, saved us and soundtracked a hundred weekends with spiky, guitar driven anthems.
Kings of Leon were the first band I saw that seemed otherworldly. They played a tiny gig at Bar Academy in Birmingham. They were so unknown at the time, they were able to come downstairs afterwards to drink at the bar.
Blunt cut fringes, long hair, beards, cuban heels, 70s leather jackets and denim flares. They were just 'something else'.
This song reminds me of all those nights out, becoming immersed in that world, that wave of music, being in bands, the pilgrimage to town on a Friday night and the chaos of the night bus home.


5) a song which has accompanied you for a while
"Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire

I can't believe that Neon Bible is 10 years old.
I still think it's an incredible piece of work, and this song stays with me as an example of a great song. The take on Folk is great - a really driven song with mandolin.
The song just builds and builds, full of anxiety and urgency. It's also heartbreaking lyrically, massive sounding musically and just a great track on a great album.
I come back to it regularly - half enjoying it, half trying to figure out how it works. Pretty close to perfect.


6) a song from your favourite genre
"re: Stacks" by Bon Iver

I'm back with Bon Iver.
In contrast to the song I went for earlier, what I love about this, is the simplicity.
I read that the songs on "For Emma, Forever Ago" were intended as demos to pitch to labels and publishers. They became the actual record and have a really beautiful, loose and haunted quality to them.
I love songs that cut straight through and connect with you whether you want them to or not.
This song stops me in my tracks every time, it's almost painful to listen to, it goes straight through me, it affects me.
Whether you can call songs that do that 'a genre', I don't know. But Folk, the confessional, painful songs of great singer/songwriters, really appeal to me - and this is as good as it gets.
I think I'm suggesting you listen to the whole album again, flouncing the rueles.
What a maverick.


7) a song by an artist / a band which has surprised you
"Thursday Girl" by Mitski

Mitski's album, "Puberty 2", was something I came across by total chance.
The album blew me away - it's such a strange mix of crunching, turn of the millennium guitars, almost Emo or Metal influenced, with something much more complex lyrically and tonally going on.
It's confessional, honest, full of hooks, odd songs, Pop songs - and it's just a brilliant piece of work.
"Thursday Girl" is dark and beautiful, almost like a hym, but broken, contemporary and rooted in a very human, modern experience.
A brilliant song by a really exciting artist.


What did you think of Phil's selection?
Make sure to listen to his music too.

Check out "Tell Me Something":

Saint Alto online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | Instagram

Previous '7 songs' features: Chris Stringer | Savannah Outen | Vanessa from HITS

Thank you for your visit!

Credits // Words Intro: Vanessa Jertschewske | Words '7 songs' & image: Saint Alto


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