Mew’s Jonas Bjerre discusses 10 albums that impacted his life
Mew have been touring this year, and that tour includes select shows where they'll play 2003's beloved Frengers in full, in support of the 15th anniversary reissue they gave the album earlier this year. As mentioned, the dates include The Regent in LA on 10/12 (tickets) and Brooklyn Steel in NYC on 10/14 (tickets). Since we last spoke, they also added one happening at The Observatory in San Diego on 10/9 (tickets). Updated dates are listed below.
Frengers is an album that's important to a lot of people, but ahead of these shows, we caught up with singer Jonas Bjerre and asked him to tell us about some albums that are important to him. He included some classic indie/alternative albums like Pixies' Doolittle, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, and Prefab Sprout's Jordan: The Comeback, as well as some stuff that might be lesser known to those of us in the United States like Bolivian singer Luzmila Carpio and Stina Nordenstam, an influential Swedish singer often compared to Kate Bush and Bjork, who may be best known in the States for appearing right after Radiohead on the classic 1996 Romeo & Juliet soundtrack (you may also recognize her music from The Knife remixing her, or Crystal Castles sampling her, or her work with Vangelis... or from her appearance on Frengers).
Here's Jonas' full list:
Luzmila Carpio - Yuyay Jap'ina Tapes
I first discovered this incredible Bolivian singer, listening to The Lake radio (an online radio station run by the guys from Efterklang). I bought this album and listened to it non-stop for two months.
It's very light and fast, in most songs the strumming of these Bolivian acoustic folk instruments has my mind racing to figure out what the meter is, until finally I let it go and just let the music take me somewhere completely different. Her voice is incredible, she effortlessly changes from what sounds like a masked headvoice into this soaring flute voice. Some of the songs feature field recordings of background sounds, like thunder and rain, and birds chirping. I love this album to bits.
Stina Nordenstam - And She Closed Her Eyes
Stina is from Stockholm, an elusive soul with incredible talent. This album was a huge inspiration to all of us in the band, almost a pop album, but devastatingly melancholy. Her albums are all great, but this one remains my favorite. We were fortunate enough to work with her once, as she features on a song of ours called "Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years". We are all such fans of hers. When she came into the studio our bass player got so nervous he had to leave.
Pixies - Doolittle
Before we became a band, we were just friends hanging out in school, listening to music and making little weird (pretentious) art films. We were mostly into pop music, but you know, intelligent pop music. Prince, Kate Bush… But when Nirvana put out the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" single, they were like a gateway drug to bands like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, and for me, most of all, Pixies.
I had a slightly older friend, who would make mix tapes for me when I was around 14. With the Pixies, he lent me all of their albums at once. I think I started with Bossanova, not thinking much about the chronology. I loved all their albums. It's hard to choose just one, but Doolittle is the one I've listened to the most. It's just such great song writing, full of violence, surreal imagery, and unexpected moments. I think my favorite song is "No.13 Baby." That moment, when they go from this loud shouty chorus into a more subdued passage, that then leads into this unexpectedly sad guitar theme, gets me every time.
Pixies, more than any other band, made me want to be in a band myself.
Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback
In some of our early live reviews, some journalist compared my voice to that of Paddy McAloon. I wasn't familiar with Prefab Sprout at the time, but later I got a job in a film post production facility where my boss would play their albums all the time. I still don't really understand the comparison, I must say, but I fell in love with all their albums. Thomas Dolby produced most of their early stuff, and gave them a slick, but imaginative sound. It's so catchy, emotional, and super clever. Paddy is a real hero of mine. Jordan: The Comeback has such an amazing flow to it. Whenever I play it, I feel sad when it ends, like I want it to go on forever.
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now
My friend Frederik recently introduced me to this album. It's from the year 2000, and consists of re-imaginings of classic jazz songs, along with two of her own songs, with beautiful orchestral arrangements by Vince Mendoza. I never really got into Joni Mitchell, sometimes it's like that, the timing is just not right, when you are introduced to something brilliant, your head is full of clutter, and you have no room for it. But listening to this version of "Both Sides Now," with the orchestra, and her voice beautifully aged, I really, really get it.
Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love
This album has "Running Up That Hill", "Hounds Of Love", and "Cloudbusting" on it. When I was about 9 or 10, I would sit in the back seat of my parents car, and they'd play Kate Bush over the sound system. She was my first crush, I think, not even knowing what she looked like, just the sound of her voice, and the worlds she created with her music. She wrote "Wuthering Heights" when she was just 18. Can you imagine? Incredible. I don't tend to listen to Kate Bush that often, because the excitement is often followed by this depressed state in which I feel like I might as well just pack it in.
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
We kind of discovered, or at least re-discovered, this album around the time when we were mixing our 2003 album Frengers. After the next album we did, a lot of prog rock comparisons started appearing in reviews, and I'm not sure if this album has something to do with that. We never really listened much to prog, we just were curious about how much we could stretch the rock album format. I've never been much of a fan of the truly viruoso prog stuff, but this album has very little of that, it's just great, imaginative song writing.
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
When we were 15, our ex-guitarist Bo and I went to see My Bloody Valentine in Christiania, in Copenhagen. We colored our hair, mine was red, his was green. Mudhoney was supporting, and that was a big part of the initial appeal, as they were on Sub Pop, who also put out Nirvana's Bleach. But it was MBV that really stuck with us. It was unlike anything we'd ever experienced before. We had no idea a band could sound that otherworldly, and the volume of the whole thing was almost scary. This album is untouchable. Like nothing else. Strangely alien and familiar at the same time, it envelopes you in sound and gives you a glimpse of some other place that you'll never really understand. It's a masterpiece.
John Adams - Shaker Loops
John Adams originally wrote this as an attempt to emulate the oscillations of water waves, for string orchestra. I'm not sure whether to call it minimalist, but along with Steve Reich's "Different Trains," it is one of my favorite musical compositions. My favorite version of it so far, is [the one above].
Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children
When I was in high school, I befriended these kids who were really into electronic music. They opened up a new world to me, of Aphex Twin, Autechre, and most of all Boards Of Canada. I love how their music has the sound of old tapes somehow saturating it. It feels like a glimpse into the past, and a dream about the future of the past. Their sense of melody and the way they build their beats, it's just really incredible.
Mew -- 2018 Tour Dates
JUL 21 SAT Tammerfest Tampere, Finland
JUL 28 SAT Sweet Spot Festival Tallinn, Estonia
AUG 9 THU Smukfest Skanderborg, Denmark
AUG 17 FRI Wonderfestiwall Allinge, Denmark
AUG 31 FRI Fredagsrock at Tivoli Copenhagen, Denmark
OCT 3 WED Plaza Condesa Mexico, Mexico
OCT 4 THU Plaza Condesa Mexico, Mexico
OCT 5 FRI Teatro Diana Jalisco, Mexico
OCT 9 TUE The Observatory North Park San Diego, CA, United States
OCT 12 FRI Regent Theater DTLA Los Angeles, CA, United States
OCT 14 SUN Brooklyn Steel Brooklyn, NY, United States
OCT 20 SAT Barbican (Matinee) London, United Kingdom
OCT 20 SAT Barbican Centre London, United Kingdom