Foundations: Death Vessel

Joel Thibodeau's most-influential LPs...

Foundations is a simple concept: an artist chooses five albums that mean the world to them, five albums that have inspired them – in music, in life.

Here, Death Vessel’s Joel Thibodeau guides Clash through his selections. The Rhode Island act’s new (third) album of gorgeous indie-folk, ‘Island Intervals’ (review), is released via Sub Pop on February 24th. Check out the track ‘Ilsa Drown’ below, featuring vocals from Jónsi of Sigur Rós

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Various Artists – ‘Breakin’: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ (1984)

“In the fourth grade I saw an older kid breakdance to The Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’. Inspired by his moves, some friends and I later entered the school talent contest with our own breakdance routine, which we choreographed to a song off the ‘Breakin’’ soundtrack. Ice-T’s performance on ‘Reckless’ was his recording debut. My performance to ‘Reckless’ was my dancing-on-stage debut.”

Ice-T, ‘Breakin’’

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Dinosaur Jr. – ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ (1987)

When I first heard ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ I wasn’t sure what to make of the hardcore and heavy metal mixed with abrasive noise and apathetic-sounding vocals. The music seemed strange as a whole, but its parts were immediately distinctive. It grew on me and eventually inspired me to learn guitar and start singing. In the first band I led as a teenager, I tried emulating songs like ‘The Lung’ and ‘In A Jar’.”

Dinosaur Jr., ‘Little Fury Things’

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Uncle Tupelo – ‘Still Feel Gone’ (1991)

“My brother made me a mixtape with ‘Gun’ on it. I loved this song (the opener on this album). After buying ‘Still Feel Gone’ I was surprised to hear the album’s country and folk elements. Tracks like ‘Watch Me Fall’ and ‘Postcard’ became favourites for putting sounds from the past into a new context, inspiring me to explore other traditions. When I saw Uncle Tupelo at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, months before the band’s demise, they played all three songs in their set.”

Uncle Tupelo, ‘Gun’

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Palace Brothers – ‘Days In The Wake’ (1994)

“Everything about this album was mysterious to me when I bought it in 1994. The cover art was a photographic portrait obscured by shadow. There was no album title printed anywhere. (This eponymous album was later renamed ‘Days In The Wake’.) And the six names mentioned in the brief, vague liner notes didn't identify the album’s songwriter. The songs were stark, ragged, personal, fragile and weird throughout. I wondered if the lyrics were intended to be irreverent. ‘All Is Grace’ and ‘Wither Thou Goest’ sounded sharp, yet cordial. Nearly 20 years later it’s still a captivating album.” 

Palace Brothers, ‘You Will Miss Me When I Burn’

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The Carter Family – ‘Anchored In Love: Their Complete Victor Recordings (1927-1928)’ (1993)

“This compilation, the first of a nine-volume issue, was released by Rounder Records in 1993. The final volume, ‘Last Sessions: Their Complete Victor Recordings (1934-1941)’, was released in 1998. After getting the first five volumes available, I found myself repeatedly returning to ‘Anchored In Love’. The raw recording quality seemed to enhance the beautiful and bare melodies. I never outright adopted Maybelle Carter’s picking technique, but learning ‘Wildwood Flower’, ‘River Of Jordan’ and ‘Single Girl, Married Girl’ helped me develop a right-hand dexterity that steered my songwriting in new directions.”

The Carter Family, ‘Wildwood Flower’

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Death Vessel’s ‘Island Intervals’ (review) is released on February 24th. The band supports Shearwater on the latter’s US headline tour, starting March 19th. Find more information at the Sub Pop website

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