I’m Adam Carpenter, a Welsh singer-songwriter based in Manchester. I write to work out my identity and feelings. Here are three albums that have have been a major influence on my work.
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree
While this wasn’t the first album I loved (that’d probably be Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen or Infinity on High by Fall Out Boy), it was definitely the first that made me decide that writing songs is something I actively wanted to do. I remember my friend Grace showing me the tracks Dance Music and This Year, and those two songs blew my mind. It really changed the way I thought about songs and writing. I’d strum along with pretty much every song on the album, and a lot of my attempts at songwriting from that time came from just singing something different over one of the chord patterns. I’ve not released many of them (Going to Rhode Island is the only one immediately coming to mind) but this album has and continues to be a major influence on me and my writing. I don’t think I’ve listened to or loved another album more than this, and I don’t think I’d be writing as much as I do had it not been for John Darnielle. Hail Satan.
Bloc Party – Intimacy
Bloc Party are a band I loved from the first time I heard them and have kept coming back to. While I could have easily chosen Silent Alarm (my introduction to the band and home of their best song, This Modern Love) or A Weekend in The City (criminally underrated), Intimacy takes the crown as my favourite album by them. I loved it when I first heard it when I was about 12, and it’s only got better over time. The band supposedly wrote and recorded the whole thing in about 2 weeks with the idea that your best ideas are your first ones, which is certainly true here. Kele Okereke’s lyrics are among his finest, and the arrangements are incredible – intricate and fascinating yet coalescing to form perfect singles like Mercury and Talons (which should have been MUCH bigger hits). It’s not just a singles album, even though almost every song is a standout – the whole thing is a beautiful meditation on a failing relationship and everything that goes along with it. The title was chosen as a double bluff, to set you up for this really soft gentle album, only to be hit with these abrasive, ugly sounds, and while I love that, it’s also one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard. I’ve been lucky enough to see Bloc Party five times (and counting!) over the years and been able to cry along to Signs and lose my mind to Ares. Ahead of the album’s release Kele said he “wanted to put [the band] in a place where nobody else could make an album like Intimacy”. He certainly succeeded – I’ve not heard anything like it.
Frank Ocean – Blond
I remember being aware of Frank Ocean for years before I finally listened. I’d got into Tyler, The Creator when I was in school and followed Odd Future a little but had never really listened to any of Frank’s solo music, until this album came out. I immediately fell in love with it. It’s such a creatively put together album, to me it’s a perfect pop album despite being really unusually put together. The sequencing is sublime, with so many amazing touches: the keyboard refrain from Be Yourself creeping into later tracks, the vocal processing on Nikes and Self Control, the reprise of Solo leading into the string of really short tracks in the middle, the perfectly spaced interludes. In amongst all of this you’ve got Pink + White and White Ferrari, which are in my opinion two of the best songs of the last few years. This album is sublime – a perfect exploration of love and anxieties, and to me, the best album of the decade.
Sprained Ankle by Julien Baker
Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me!
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen
Puberty 2 by Mitski
Narrow Stairs by Death Cab for Cutie
Adam Carpenter is an indie-folk singer-songwriter from Ystradgynlais, South Wales, now based in Manchester.