Matthew And The Atlas sits at the heart of the Communion story.
The songwriter - real name Matthew Hegarty - was the first artist to be signed to the label, and he's remains close to the team ever since.
New album 'Temple', then, is a labour of love in more ways than one. Forthcoming, the record is perhaps the most mature, enlightening, and poetic document yet from Matthew And The Atlas.
Out on Friday (April 22nd), it's an engrossing return from a very rare talent. Peering into the studio, Clash invited Matthew Hegarty to jot down what he was currently listening to...
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The National – 'Fake Empire'
This is the song that introduced me to The National, I couldn’t understand why I loved it so much at first, but I think it had a lot to do with Matt Berninger’s lyrics. They made sense in a sort of abstract way and created a lot of imagery in my mind and it just made me want to keep listening. The instrumentation and arrangements are always intelligent and emotive, I feel like you get more out of The National the more you listen to them, the music and words keep on giving! The vocal sound and timing, which can be very dry, direct and rhythmic, juxtaposed against the driving energy of the drums, guitars and bass is just really appealing.
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Strand Of Oaks – 'Shut In'
I was a little late to the party with Strand Of Oaks, I love his album 'HEAL', the songwriting feels classic, but with a real rawness, honesty and heart. Some of the songs on this album are big tunes as well, they’re anthemic, or at least they are to me when I’m singing them loudly in my kitchen while I’m doing the dishes. I was thinking about this record when writing, because it feels so real, like he didn’t lose the energy you have when you do the first demo of a new song. If you can retain that, I think people can really hear and connect with it.
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Wild Beasts – 'Palace'
One of my favorite bands, they just seem to get better and better. I talked about Wild Beasts a lot when doing the record, I’m always really impressed with how they arrange their songs, they seem so economical with their sound, everything seems to lock together like a puzzle, which in turn seems to create space, and allows each instrument to then have its own space within the mix. It’s really clever and really hard to do!
They also have two of the best singers around in one band. Hayden Thorpe’s voice sometimes reminds me of Anthony Hegarty or Joanna Newsom, I really connect with the way he sings, it very powerful. I tired to push myself more vocally on a track called Glacier on the new record and that was partly inspired by Hayden Thorpe's singing. I also love the drum arrangements; they’re just very considered and different to what you normally hear.
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Sufjan Stevens - 'The Only Thing'
Foreign Fields who produced the album, like me, are big fans of Sufjan. Eric from Foreign Fields said to me he thought Sufjan was the sort of artist who lit the way for other artist, which I think is really true, he just gets on and does what he wants to do creatively regardless of any preconception people might have of him and you trust him to follow him. I thought about that a lot when writing this record, about my own perception of myself and at times being too self conscious, and in the end I realised I just needed to write the songs, with out over thinking it too much, try to trust myself a bit more, and let the songs find their own identity.
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Neil Young – 'Tonight’s The Night'
Neil Young has probably influenced every artist on this list in some way or another. What I love about him is his search for the truth in a performance, the record Tonight’s The Night is a reaction to the attention Harvest brought him, dealing with alcoholism and the deaths of roadie Bruce Berry and Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten. It’s a dark, raw and beautiful album to say the least.
The thing with this record is that it was done in one session without overdubs and pretty much first takes, like most of his work, but this is especially beautiful and painful to listen to as his vocal breaks and veers off key at times, and they didn’t change any of it, which it’s all the better for.
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Arcade Fire – 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'
Apart from writing awesome songs Arcade Fire always seem to have something meaningful to say. They just seemed to appear one day, fully formed, making a lot of beautiful noise with Funeral. I always feel like I’m learning something new about songwriting when I listen to their records. The Suburbs was a big influence on this record, lyrically I love how Win Butler talks about topics like climate change but doesn’t beat you over the head with it, he looks at it through his own human experiences which makes it relatable and poetic.
I could have easily picked any Arcade Fire song but there is something about 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)', which just puts a stupid grin on my face.
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Joanna Newsom – 'On A Good Day'
Like most of the artist on this list, Joanna Newsom has this ability to create a world that you get to live in for a short time while you listen to her records. I first heard her when Sawdust & Diamonds was playing on the radio, which pretty much stopped me in my tracks. When the picking pattern changes about 45 seconds into the song I just got shivers down my spine and have brought anything she’s ever done since! The combination of her harp playing, singing and lyrics, just drew me in straight away.
For me, that is what listening to an album is about, it’s journeying through a different world, and I’ve always thought about that when making a record. I choose 'On A Good Day' because it’s a special and also remarkably short song by her standards and my wife has been singing it to our daughter pretty much since she was born as it has this fairy tale, lullaby quality to it. So this song was always being sung or played in our house when I was writing the record.
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'Temple' will be released on April 22nd.