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Jack Cleverly of Cymbals: Five Essential Albums

Cymbals (courtesy of the artist,

Cymbals (courtesy of the artist,


There are plenty of 2014 albums that merit mention as the best of the year thus far—and those overlooked gems that deserve far more attention. Add Cymbals' The Age of Fracture to both lists. The London quartet's strong sophomore album is diverse, daring and very dance-friendly, but there are also smart dystopian and socioeconomic concepts skittering through the songs, gleaned from influences ranging from Princeton historian Daniel T. Rodgers (the band named the album after Rodgers' book The Age of Fracture) to writer John Berger.

The dynamic Cymbals embark on a brief North American tour this week and play Pianos on Friday, July 18, and Glasslands on Saturday, July 19. Even better, Cymbals frontman Jack Cleverly wrote up a list of his Five Essential Albums for WFUV and The Alternate Side, sweeping from Harold Budd to Cocteau Twins.

Read Jack's list below and watch the video for Cymbals' "Erosion" from The Age of Fracture, out now on Tough Love Records.

Jack Cleverly of Cymbals: Five Essential Albums

Harold Budd, Bandits of Stature
I've recently become obsessed with this composer. A lot of his work has a real '80s "relaxation synth," music-for-airports vibe to it. So it sometimes feels dated, but I love that. He did two records with Cocteau Twins' guitarist that have that sound and are perfect for the weird days everyone has. I first discovered his music over a few days in a hotel room in Colombia, recovering from collarbone surgery and singing at a show, on lots of painkillers, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
I spent a week in Greece with my wife recently and we resurrected this album that we used to listen to when we first got together. I heard Cohen spent many years in Greece writing poetry and experiencing domesticity before even deciding to become a musician, at about the age of thirty. My guess is a lot of these songs were created, or at least started to germinate, during that time. These songs sounded right in a situation with no deadlines, where it was really hot, and we were sitting right in the middle of an ancient land.

Étienne Daho, La Notte La Notte
This is a perfect record. Everyone should hear it. It's a French '80s pop masterpiece. If you like it check out more of the Daho back catalogue. I dream of opening for him, or collaborating, one day.

Hood, Cold House
This is an old favourite I over-listened to when I was a student. It has a lot of tape electronics. It's a weird combination of depresso shoegaze and lo-fi hip-hop, I think. It maybe sounds a bit dated now, but I kind of feel it's coming back around as a sound. We were recently in touch with the guy who engineered this record, Richard Formby, who we would love to record with. He told me stories about leaving a tape machine under the drum kit during the sessions and just keeping reams of tape of random drums, just to have as samples.

Cocteau Twins, Victorialand
This is basically the ultimate chill-out record. It's random that I should choose this Cocteau Twins record and not another—there's always one of theirs I have on heavy rotation at any one time. I think there aren't much drums on this, and I think I heard that's it's because they didn't have a drummer at the time, so they were just making the best of the circumstances—that's an approach I love. If you have too much going on, modernity is ruining your memory and computers are wearing out your brain, listen to this.

You can read all of FUV's Five Essential Albums here.