Last week, the Polyphonic Spree returned with their hotly anticipated eighth studio album, Salvage Enterprise. Led by frontman and founder Tim DeLaughter, the record is their first proper collection of originals in nearly a decade and has even been transformed into a traveling live experience. The songs are deeply vulnerable, with DeLaughter telling AP that it’s “one of the hardest [albums] I’ve ever made in my life” — it’s quite a statement from someone who’s made music for 30 years, opened for David Bowie on tour, and landed songs in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
“Across all of the music I’ve done, lyrically there’s a sense of desperation and a moment of convincing myself I’m going to make it through regardless of how the music dresses up,” DeLaughter says of the album. “On this one, I struggled with the amount of vulnerability I was experiencing and was willing to share both musically and lyrically, but ultimately decided to let it play out. Now that it’s done, I’m happy with the dance between the two.”
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To ring in its release, DeLaughter selected a handful of songs that have influenced his band over the years. See his picks below.
First Class – “Beach Baby”
This was the first record I bought as a kid. It was a 45 that I purchased at the local drugstore. Pharmacies sold records — everything from Walt Disney storybook records to the latest pop that was on the radio. I had heard this song on the a.m. radio. This was ’70s bubble gum pop at its finest. If you listen, you can hear all the elements of the Polyphonic Spree in this one song pretty much.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – “Hoedown”
The first band that had a profound effect on me would be Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I heard “Hoedown” off the Trilogy album during my 3rd grade music class. The music teacher played the whole album for us. After hearing it, my life was never the same. From that moment on, I was thinking about how I could try to do that.
Yes – “Yesterday and Today”
I was introduced to Yes at a young age by an older friend who lived behind us. The neighbor had a Moog synthesizer and would try to play Yes songs. I was intrigued. I loved how each song was a journey enabling you to escape to faraway places via a song. I soaked up their whole catalog. Jon Anderson’s voice was an influence — you can hear it in the Polyphonic Spree. This particular song is beautiful. The way Jon melodically lays his voice on this track is so heartfelt and in the moment. It is a great way to wake up and greet the day. I had the honor to open up for Jon Anderson in 2012. Full circle of sorts.
Ennio Morricone – “The Strong”
“II Forte” (“The Strong”) from the movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There’s something about this piece of music that speaks to me. It is the sound of life’s tragedies coupled with the resolve and victory of overcoming them. I love it.
Percy Faith – “The Theme from ‘A Summer Place’”
I love elevator music. This song is quintessential elevator music. It is so sunny, relaxing, and beautiful. The instrumentation and arrangement are so spot on. Percy had it dialed in. Mantovani is also a go-to. Paul Weston is pretty great, too.
The Moody Blues – “The Day Begins”
Days of Future Passed was a huge inspiration. This song in particular is so broad. You go so many places in 5:45. The song even comes with a narrative by Richard Harris. This album was played quite a bit while I was thinking of our latest, Salvage Enterprise. The scope was such an inspiration to its narrative.
The Association – “Cherish” and “Windy”
I’m giving you two because you can’t have one without the other. Baroque pop at its finest. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of baroque pop. These two songs are basically what the Polyphonic Spree is when we are hitting on all eight cylinders. This music takes me back to when I was a kid. The sun was out, and the music matched the feeling of being free, happy, and in the moment.
Harper’s Bizarre – “Witchi Tai To”
This song is from 1969, but it sounds like today. This version of the song is such a great recording and performance by the band. It is basically a mantra that is surrounded by this lush pop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song. I was doing a radio interview in London and a DJ turned me onto it. I’ve been thankful ever since. I need to figure out who it was so I can thank him!
The Millennium – “The Island”
1968. I love this song! I just have to share with you. It has been a favorite for years. Whenever I need a palate cleanser or a fresh start on what to listen to, I’ll go to this song.