Sound & Vision with The Harriets

Tipped by BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and Glastonbury Emerging Talent, Leeds based alternative rock quartet, The Harriets, have just released their debut album, Hopefuls. And with lead single, Cafe Disco, recalling all the best nights out you’ve ever had at indie nightclubs, as it brims with all the magic of a Stephen Street production – think Bradford’s Shouting Quietly, or the best moments from The Ordinary Boys’ debut – we caught up with songwriter, Dan Parker-Smith, to find out about his favourites from the world of music, literature and film.

These are Dan from The Harriets’ Sound & Vision picks:

Three Favourite albums:

Pink Moon – Nick Drake

I became pretty enamoured with Nick Drake while I was in my early twenties and discovered Pink Moon after staying over at a friend’s house. She had the CD, and gave it to me to listen to when I said how much I liked Five Leaves Left. I think there was a period where I listened to it multiple times a day for weeks on end – haha! It’s so very clever – seemingly care-free, yet simultaneously expertly crafted. It’s one of those albums I consistently come back to, and also really influenced the way I play guitar. Some of those chords! Wow.

The Stranger – Billy Joel

My Dad had a ‘Best Of’ Billy Joel CD he played around the house when I was a kid, but I never really got into the music until years later when I came across a live version of Scenes From An Italian Restaurant during a YouTube spiral… and that was it! Fast forward to years later and me and my girlfriend have seen him live three times in the last four years. The band on the record are incredible and really elevate his songwriting, as well as the instrumentation and string arrangements. I think Billy Joel isn’t seen as a particularly ‘cool’ artist, but those who say that only know him for Uptown Girl (which is of course great). There’s so much more to his catalogue, particularly his 70’s era albums. I think the songs on this album have so much depth and character, it’s just a perfect album.

Titanic Rising – Weyes Blood

I got into Weyes Blood through the artist, Drugdealer. She guested on a few tracks that I’d heard and I really found those to be my favourites. Me and Ben both discovered Titanic Rising at a similar time due to the production by Jonathan Rado from Foxygen and Brian D’Addario from The Lemon Twigs, who I am a big fan of. I think the production is genuinely amazing. Movies blew my mind when I first heard it and is probably still favourite track on the album. The song Everyday was actually a big inspiration for our track Come Home when I was re-writing it in early 2020 for our album. I really love the mix and the instrumentation on the album, it’s quite sparse in places but then if you properly listen you can tell a lot of time went into stacking the harmonies and the extra synths that come in and out of the tracks. Natalie (Weyes Blood) really has an amazing voice, and her songwriting is just brilliant – I think this will be one of those albums people talk about in years to come as a modern classic.

A Film I Love:

When Harry Met Sally

I’m a sucker for feel-good films, but this film is very special to me. There’s so many things going on in the world to bring you down, so personally, when I watch a film I want be whisked away to a fantasy land, full of dry wit, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and romance. It’s laugh out loud funny while heart-warming, and really makes you think about life. The scene where Harry is talking about his divorce at a ballgame is my favourite bit of the film – it’s hilarious. This has been my favourite film since I was a teenager and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it!

A book I love:

No-One Gets Out Of Here Alive (Jim Morrison biography) by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman.

I’ve never really been a big reader, even as a kid. However, while I was at university I read quite a lot of biographies and I think my favourite was this one. It’s dramatic and outrageous, yet somehow sincere. I’m not sure how much of the stories and events are exaggerated, but it’s definitely an entertaining read which is very well-told, giving you an insight into the music and the full band too. It left me even more obsessed with The Doors for years to come. I’ve got pictures of the shaggy hair to prove it…

A Song that’s important to me:

I Must Be In A Good Place Now by Bobby Charles.

This song is such a special song to me and I probably listen to it as regularly now as I did when I first heard it. When I was writing the ‘film I love’ I realised that I think I do consciously surround myself with very positive and self-affirming things. When I’m writing songs I very consciously prioritise the positive, feel-good things I write. Of all of the music that’s ever existed, so much of it can make you sad – and I’m not saying that’s not good – one of my favourite bands used to be The Smiths – but I feel personally, if I can add a handful of tunes to those that make people smile and decide to actually get out of bed in a morning, that’s what I’d rather work on. I’m a very, ‘glass half full’ kind of person, and staying in ‘a good place’ is really important to me and my well-being. This song just instantly gets me in that good place in a way not many other songs can do… though lots of Louis Armstrong was a close runner-up, for the same reasons.

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