The Akron, Ohio, band Houseguest favors a brand of indie pop influenced equally by ’90s lo-fi and ’70s art rock. The art-rock quotient has been increased on the group’s upcoming album, Welcome, All That’s Difficult, as has the band’s bizarre sense of humor. They get a lot of laughs with this selection of music from the tour van, shared by singer and keyboardist Ted Mallison.
Earles and Jensen:
Just Farr a Laugh Vols. I & II (Matador, 2008)
This is a collection of prank phone calls by Jeffrey Jensen and Andrew Earles. It’s like the Jerky Boys, but less mean-spirited. A lot of jokes about Rally’s, which is one of our favorite restaurants. I think it’s the best record Matador has put out in probably 10 years, actually.
Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (Drag City, 2008)
It’s really good, I think, particularly the songs “Party Barge” and “Candy Jail.” The titles accurately describe what the songs are about. Tell us what you’re going to sing about, and then sing about it very descriptively for about three minutes. Elliptical lyrics are for the fucking birds.
Houseguest’s MIDI Collection
We downloaded a bunch of MIDI versions of popular songs that we have been listening to non-stop. Our three favorites are Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and Yes’ “And You and I.” Seriously, you cannot truly understand music until you listen to a MIDI version of an eight-minute progressive epic like “And You and I.” It’s like fan fiction, which we also enjoy, both reading and writing. You know, they have Home Improvement fan fiction. There are a lot of sexually explicit Home Improvement fan fictions.
Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris: All the Roadrunning (Warner Bros., 2006)
This is something me and my mom both listen to. I actually bought it for her for her birthday and then stole it from her. I really think their two voices are a prefect match for each other. The song “This is Us” is from the perspective of an older married couple, and it is totally believable, just because of how their voices play off each other. They got good chemistry!