We at Oak Honest Records are beyond excited to provide our listeners with quality music to enjoy! In the meantime, we decided to take an opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic music that has inspired us to embark on this journey. While none of these albums are Oak Honest records, they have all planted a seed in our heart, mind, and sonic identity. Without further adieu, here are the albums that inspired our sounds and helped to point us in the direction that we wanted to go as a label:
Nick the Knife – Nick Lowe
(1982 – F-Beat)
While remaining relatively straightforward in arrangement, Nick the Knife displays Lowe’s immense strength as a songwriter. In other words, this is a damn good pop album that cuts deep – (get it?!) These tracks effortlessly lead the listener through an experience of love, lust, heartache, and empowerment – all with an injection of humor and general oddity for good measure! There is a great sonic range presented within this album, shifting from confident and boisterous to delicate and tender. As with much of his catalog, this work is a wonderful medium between polished production and raw expression. Nick the Knife is free from gimmicks and marketing ploys; there’s nothing to see here but a master of his craft sharing his songs.
OHR Picks: My Heart Hurts, Queen of Sheeba, Too Many Teardrops
The Missing Years – John Prine
(1991 – Oh Boy Records)
John Prine brought his sound to life on this album in a way that he had not achieved before. This is essentially a country/folk album that listens like an alternative album. Each track offers a different slice of Prine’s sonic identity; each song a brushstroke creating what is collectively a masterpiece. Prine’s perspective is so cynical, he’s an optimist! This brand of humorous wit lends the perfect phrase to feelings of grief, nostalgia, longing, grit, acceptance, and searching. The Missing Years found a place in our heart and showed us that this is the kind of album we would want to make.
OHR Picks: All the Best, Great Rain, Everything is Cool
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
(1965 – Columbia)
What could we possibly say about this album that hasn’t been said? Bob Dylan is arguably the greatest songwriter of all time and this is arguably his best album. We know, we know, it’s cliché, but before you start talking about how over-hyped you think ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is, let us remind you that this album’s commercially successful opener is perfectly complimented by the ever enchanting, stripped down classic, ‘Desolation Row’. There is an infinite splendor to be found in the imagery present in these selections. Dylan’s depictions are complimented by swirling organs, twanging guitars, and overall smokey instrumentation – taking this wordsmith beyond the realms of more traditional acoustic folk music. This is a fundamental album for songwriters, folk rockers, fans of psychedelia, and alternative artists alike.
OHR Picks: It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry, Ballad of a Thin Man, Desolation Row
Illusions – Michale Graves & Damien Echols
(2007 – SOS)
Michale Graves transforms himself from a mere punk rocker to a genuine artist with this album’s expansion of his sonic universe. With dark imagery and ghostly crooning, Graves is able to channel his 50’s Jersey greaser vibrato over otherworldly scenes and sounds from the afterlife. This album presents a surprisingly vulnerability for being the offspring of the ex-Misfits singer, which may be due in part to his haunting lyricism, and his collaboration with his friend and then death row inmate, Damien Echols. This unquestionably adds authenticity to this albums themes of darkness, disillusionment, hopelessness, love, longing, and redemption.
OHR Picks: Almost Home, Frostbite, Shelter
Continued Story – Daniel Johnston
(1985 – Self Released)
If you view music as a vehicle for human expression, then Daniel Johnston may be the greatest ever. If you instead, view music as a craft or task that is to be executed precisely and correctly, then Daniel Johnston may be the worst. Daniel’s hand crafted productions exude authenticity, perhaps more than any other musician in his time. On a handful of tracks, Texas Instruments is able to provide Daniel with some degree of structure to serve as a backdrop for his creative genius. The remaining numbers just let the wild man do his thing – both are equally authentic and effective. Daniel’s music is manic, open, innocent, wondrous, desperate, neglected, outcasted, celebratory, humorous, and confused all at once – and is many ways is a complete reflection of the full gambit of the human condition.
OHR Picks: Etiquette, Her Blues, A Walk in the Wind
Who would have thought that as we writing this article, you were passing on.
Rest in Peace, John Prine. You were Pretty Good.