1. Beach Slang – Broken Thrills
I first heard of Beach Slang when Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) tweeted about them. I put on their first record and it blew me away. I was an instant fan. The first song on that record, “Filthy Luck”, is the perfect introduction to Beach Slang – lots of self-deprecation with an equal helping of hope. Crushed Veneer’s initial sound was entirely influenced by Beach Slang. I was really just trying to write Beach Slang songs. We were lucky enough to have Dave Downham (who produces Beach Slang’s music) mix our debut EP!
2. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
I got into Cloud Nothings when this record came out and I’ve seen them play live a few times since. The first time I saw them was in Dublin in 2014. They were playing a pretty large venue which was, sadly, quite empty but they still put on a show bursting with energy. It was fantastic. At the time I was writing and recording solo acoustic style music but seeing Cloud Nothings in Dublin inspired me to start a rock band again. If you don’t know them listen to “I’m Not Part Of Me”, “Fall In”, and “Stay Useless”.
3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
This is one of those rare, perfect records. I’m constantly inspired by the lyricism of Japandroids (“When they love you, and they will, tell them all they’ll love in my shadow”) and the sound they manage to get as a two-piece is pretty remarkable. I’ve been a fan since “Post- Nothing” but if you’re new to the band start with “Celebration Rock”. Then go see them live because they put on one hell of a show.
4. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem are arguably my biggest influence. Brian Fallon is one of my favourite songwriters and I often find myself ‘borrowing’ ideas of his. A friend and bandmate introduced me to them when this record came out in 2008 and I’ve been a massive fan ever since. This is another one of those rare, perfect records. If I had to pick a favourite song it would be “Meet Me By The River’s Edge” – mainly because I have some of the lyrics tattooed on my arm.
5. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
The Menzingers are one of the best bands around at the minute. Their latest record “After The Party” is a masterpiece and their live show is insane. On The Impossible Past is the record that introduced me to them. I love their lyricism, particularly Greg’s storytelling ability and occasional incorporation of great and obscure literary references. “Mexican Guitars”, “Nice Things” and “The Obituaries” are all a great place to start if you’re new to The Menzingers.
6. Dave Hause – Resolutions
After getting into The Gaslight Anthem I got introduced to Dave Hause. He was in a punk band called The Loved Ones but his debut solo record “Resolutions” was an all acoustic affair. Keeping with the theme of a lot of these artists, Dave’s a master lyricist. “Time Will Tell” is a particular favourite of mine.
7. Northcote – Hope Is Made Of Steel
This is one of those records that connects deeply with a specific time in my life. I originally saw Matt (of Northcote) support Dave Hause in a pub basement in Belfast in 2012. When this record came out in 2015 I saw them play The Old Blue Last. It was a full band show this time and the energy they gave off was incredible. Amazingly we got to play one of our biggest shows to date at The Old Blue Last two years to the day that I’d seen Northcote play there which was really cool.
8. Brian Fallon
I’ve already mentioned The Gaslight Anthem but Brian Fallon is worth mentioning individually. As a writer he’s my biggest influence. One of those people you aspire to be like but know you can never match. His work as The Horrible Crowes is some of my favourite and his two solo albums are almost flawless. I don’t think I can pick a favourite Brian Fallon song but one of my favourite lyrics of his has to be, “Everybody's hurt, and mine ain't the worst, but it's mine and I'm feeling it now” from “Rosemary”.
9. The Smith Street Band
It’s only in the last year or two I’ve really got into TSSB but I’ve fallen in love quickly. Wil’s writing has definitely inspired a lot more honesty in my writing and got me to pull back on the ambiguity a bit. Even more recently, the writing of Camp Cope and Fresh have impacted me in a similar way.
10. Ham On Rye by Charles Bukowski
It was a line in this novel that inspired the name of one of our songs which then became the title track to our debut EP: “What a weary time those years were – to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.”