The four singles that have preceded this week’s new album release from Toronto four piece, Little Kid, have been some of our favourite music of 2020. Ahead of their sixth record, Transfiguration Highway – set to be released through their new home of Solitaire Records – we caught up with songwriter, Kenny Boothby, to chat influences and inspirations.
These are Boothby’s Sound & Vision picks:
Three Favourite Albums
Time (the Revelator) by Gillian Welch
Time (the Revelator) opened me up to country music. I first heard the song, April the 14th (Part 1), when David Bazan covered it during an encore on the Curse Your Branches tour. I didn’t catch the name of the artist, so I had to search for it after the fact using the scrap of lyrics I remembered (‘…and I wished I played in a rock n roll band…’). It became a frequent post-bar song in my university years, but I never really sought out the rest of the album until later on. My cousin bought the CD after I showed him the song, and he let me borrow it for a summer while I briefly lived in my hometown again and worked in a kitchen. A lot of it felt ‘too country’ at first, but the slower songs kept drawing me back and eventually I came around on all of it. I remember the first time I really focused on I Dream a Highway, and it was a bit of a life-changing experience. Learning it was created using the first two takes the two of them recorded after writing the song made it even more inspiring. My songwriting has definitely been shaped by Gillian, and I consider David Rawlings one of the best guitarists of all time, and a huge influence on my playing.
A Ghost Is Born by Wilco
A Ghost is Born shook up my idea of what exactly makes up an ‘album’. Like a lot of folks, my first introduction to Wilco was Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and it was a pretty immediate hit for me. I loved the way they balanced pop sensibilities with some pretty wacky production ideas on that record. Naturally, I wanted to hear the other album they made with Jim O’Rourke, and I bought a used copy of A Ghost Is Born to listen to while driving home from Chicago. It came at a perfect time – I had really come around on the idea of the long, repetitive song, and Spiders (Kidsmoke) really nailed that. I was definitely a little perplexed by some of the sequencing: how can you start your album with a song with such massive guitar solos throughout? Why place a short folk-pop song at the very end after a ten-minute noise section in the penultimate track? I tend to love cohesive, semi-conceptual albums, but what excited me most about this one was how blatantly in-cohesive it was. When we made Might As Well With My Soul, we talked a lot about this album, as an example of a ‘messy’ album like we were trying to create.
Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan
I hated Blonde on Blonde when I first heard it because all I was really listening to were the lyrics. I was pretty new to Dylan, but he obviously has a huge reputation and is generally considered one of the best American songwriters, so I gave the lyrics a lot of attention. I had come to love some of his more confessional songwriting on albums like Blood on the Tracks, and his earlier ones like The Times They Are a-Changin’, but when I threw on Blonde on Blonde and heard rhymes like ‘I stood there and hummed / I tapped on her drum / I asked her how come’ I just thought the whole thing was a pile of garbage. It wasn’t until I had recorded a handful of albums and come to appreciate the unique vibe that comes with recording live, especially when the song is new and unrehearsed, that I started to connect with this record. The vibe is what makes this record so unique and perfect to me. The songs are often chaotic, and you can tell a lot of times that the band is hesitant, looking to Dylan to see what he’s going to do next and hoping they can keep up with him. It’s such a strange dynamic, and I’m sure it was hard for a lot of those musicians to walk away from the sessions feeling like they nailed it, but the end results are pretty magical to me. I love all of the little mistakes. I even came around on some of the garbage rhymes – I think they are a result of his drive to create quickly, following the spark of a new song idea and trying to capture it while it’s still new, not wasting time getting things ‘perfect,’ or perhaps knowing the closest thing to perfect comes when you aren’t trying too hard.
A Film I Love
The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson
I didn’t like this movie the first time I saw it – or at least I didn’t ‘get’ it. I was a big fan of the rest of his filmography already, especially There Will Be Blood (probably my all-time favourite movie), so when I heard he was making a movie approximately ‘about’ Scientology, I was very excited. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting – maybe something more linear – but the movie was much different than I anticipated. I left the theatre feeling kind of unsatisfied, even though I loved the cinematography and the performances were great. Anyways, I watched it again when it was released on DVD and started to warm up to it. But for my third viewing, with Brodie from LK, we decided to share some terrible-tasting whiskey while watching, which was fitting given Joaquin Phoenix’s character’s propensity to drink strange concoctions throughout, and watching it in that state made the film make even more sense somehow.
A Book I Love
Close Range: Wyoming Stories by E. Annie Proulx
This one’s a collection of short stories. I first fell in love with Proulx via The Shipping News, which I picked up at a used bookstore on a whim, but wound up feeling very moved by. Later on, I realised she also wrote the story that Brokeback Mountain was based on, and that movie is a favourite of mine… Turns out that story is the best of many great stories here, all focused on small-town folk in Wyoming. I’m a sucker for stories set in the South; I think because there’s always such a potent Christian undercurrent to that setting. These stories are grim while also occasionally displaying her sense of humour… But then Brokeback Mountain comes along and it’s very tender and tragic, and it explores some of my favourite themes – masculinity and repression.
A Song that’s Important to Me
I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
I struggled with this one… lately, the music I tend to listen to is feeling unimportant in any wide sense, but I’ll pick one that is important to me. My earliest musical memories involve my siblings and I as young kids dancing in the living room, and this is one of the songs we would dance to. My dad passed away when I was nine, so I never really got to talk music with him, but a few years ago I was at a funeral and got talking to my dad’s best friend. I asked him what some of my dad’s favourite records were, and he mentioned that they both really connected with the movie The Big Chill, and they would always listen to the soundtrack. When I looked it up, I realised all of the songs I grew up dancing to were on there. Whenever I hear this one, When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge, Bad Moon Rising by CCR, or The Weight by the Band, it takes me back to that living room and reminds me of my dad.
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