Lucas Oswald has been in a few dark places in his life.
The songwriter has previously went through mental health issues, but refused to let his impinge on his creativity.
Finding both making and listening to music to be an enormous solace, Lucas Oswald found that music could soothe his bleakest passages.
New album 'Whet' draws on this, an adventurous, humane work, one born from savage experience.
Here, Lucas recommends a few songs that - from his experience - can soften some of life's harsh thoroughfares...
"I'm no expert, so I should preface by saying that I think the most effective treatment for clinical depression is therapy and medication. That said, music is usually a great companion when the brain is misbehaving. Here's some songs that have helped ground me over the years, as I've traversed the darker parts of my own life's journey."
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Eels - 'Back On My Feet'
'Back On My Feet' is a gorgeous closing number from the album 'End Times'. Taken at face value, it's a pretty gloomy song with some sucker-punch lines scattered throughout. But there's a beautifully understated optimism below the surface. It's a subtle and unlikely hopefulness that I find medicinal. It makes me wanna tie my shoes and go walk somewhere. It's strange, but I think lots of people have songs that make them feel that specific way. This one does it for me.
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New Order - 'Age Of Consent'
I discovered last year that dancing around the house helps me shake off a lot of negative energy, and brings me back to my center. Sometimes I work from home for long stretches, and if I'm not careful I'll adopt a pretty sedentary lifestyle. That's a slippery slope into a darker place. The tempo of Age of Consent really syncs up with my inherently shameful, default dance moves. Some days I'll pop this tune on, flail around until I work up a sweat, and then get back to work with a cleansed mental palette.
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Anonymous Choir - 'Tell Me Why'
'Anonymous Choir Sings Neil Young's After The Gold Rush' is probably my favourite album that's come out in the last five years. It's easy to overlook how pretty most of Neil Young's melodies are. I love hearing his songs in this context. A choir is an interesting musical vessel because choir singers tend to understate their personal vocal quirks in order to blend better. It's welcome change from modern pop singing, where the aim is this sort of over-expressive vocal gymnastics.
Anonymous Choir present these songs very humbly and genuinely, and Nona Invie's voice has such a raw vulnerability that I love. When I put the record on, this is the first song that plays--and it immediately relaxes me.
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Elliott Smith - 'Twilight'
It would be hard to make a list like this and not include a song that is wholly and tragically sad. It's nearly impossible to belong to someone when you're tightly gripped by a mental struggle, an addiction, etc. 'Twilight' relays that in such a beautiful and vulnerable way, punctuated throughout with the recurring reflection: "but I'm already somebody's baby." The melody alone is indescribably moving.
It's remarkable how some artists can tie a melody to a set of lyrics in such a way that it'd be difficult to imagine the song not existing. It's like he plucked a feeling out of mid-air and shared it in its most naked form.
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The Lemonheads - 'It's About Time'
I think The Lemonheads are my favourite band because so many of the songs are mid-tempo and laden with very down-to-earth, casual one-liners. That recipe really resonates with my personality. Mantras can be especially helpful when you need to feel grounded, and the chorus of this song delivers an extremely simple reflection that I like to say to myself when it's time to move forward. It's About Time ticks all the boxes for me.
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Lucas Oswald - 'Feel It Again'
I'd be remiss if I didn't include a song of my own here. If this list or any of my observations resonate with you, I'd encourage you to check out 'Feel It Again'. This is my own take on being absent of feeling, and questioning if it will ever come back again.
I wrote it for myself, but I've been humbled to have others share with me that the song really means something to them. Maybe it'll mean something to you.
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'Whet' is out now.
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