Natalie Mering makes gorgeous music under the name Weyes Blood. Her new album “Front Row Seat To Earth” sets soaring vocals against lush horns and almost classical-sounding piano. She made a bunch of critics’ year-end “Best Of” lists — including Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear, Fusion and more.
This week, she spun us some of her favorite tunes, from super-low-fidelity cassette tape demos to pop opera. Just the stuff for an intimate soiree.
Natalie Mering: I live in a really tiny studio apartment. There’s not a lot of space to go hide and not bond, so any dinner party of mine is going to be a collection of people probably sitting on the floor on pillows very close to one another.
Without further ado, here’s my dinner party soundtrack.
The Stranglers – “My Young Dreams”
My first song is a rare cut by the band The Stranglers called, “My Young Dreams.”
The Stranglers are an English rock band who emerged via the punk rock scene in the ’70s. And every time I’ve ever put this song on, somebody asks me what it is because it is so infectious.
The Stranglers had an amazing piano player. He was capable of playing these neoclassical piano lines in the context of a rock song. What I try to do a lot in my music is try to build that bridge between very popular classical music and modern pop music.
Opus Avantra – “L’altalena”
The next song I would play is by an Italian prog rock band called Opus Avantra. It’s called “L’altalena.”
So, “prog” stands for “progressive.” And this band was progressive by using a lot of orchestral elements, and the lead singer was actually an opera singer. In the ’70s — because I feel like Italy has such a rich history with opera — there were some rock bands that were incorporating those elements.
This is a great main course song because the main course [at my party] is a hearty stew. It’s just, like, a big bowl of slop. And my style of cooking in the tiny apartment is usually to slow-cook everything to avoid being in the microscopic kitchen. So, I feel like this song adds just a little refinement to the whole affair.
Roy Wood – “Wake Up”
My third song is going to bring it all back home, and this track is Roy Wood’s “Wake Up.”
This song is for post-dinner. Everybody’s maybe in a food coma. There’s, like, a fog — a pleasant, wonderful fog — and maybe it’s time to open up and really catch up.
Roy Wood, who was in Electric Light Orchestra, managed to use the sound of water droplets in the song in a very melodic way.
I feel like my knowledge of harmony actually stemmed from being a part of choirs in high school. I was maybe, like, the edgiest person in my choir because I had dyed hair, and I was wearing punk shirts and going to punk concerts, but still showing up to practice on time. And I feel like I got just enough training to find out what I liked about music theory and classical music and then not enough to really dispel the mystery surrounding how music works.
Weyes Blood – “Generation Why”
My song that I’m going to play for everybody at my dinner is going to be “Generation Why.” Now, we’re leaving the nostalgia of the ’70s and entering the real issues that are happening right now.
I consider myself a Millennial, maybe one that kind of got there later. Like, I wanted to identify with Generation X or something. But I think, as Millennials, it’s important to understand how to be proactive in a new way that doesn’t involve just being inside of an echo chamber like Facebook. But learning how to connect with the people that don’t agree with you.
And I would hope that the vibe this song creates is kind of a testament to intimacy in these really strange times.