PLAYLIST: Strange Ranger Recall the Songs That Inspired “Remembering the Rockets”

From Red House Painters to Oneohtrix Point Never, the Philly rockers give some context for their experimental new record.

In 2017, Strange Ranger introduced themselves as a midwest emo act to watch, cramming an evident reverence for Built to Spill into an already-busy fifteen tracks on Daymoon. Most of that got tossed out the window on the following year’s highly experimental How it All Went By EP, the jumping-off point for their latest full-length, the shimmering, gamut-spanning pop rock opus Remembering the Rockets.

With a tracklist that’s nearly as lengthy as that of their debut, Rockets ventures in plenty more directions, all of which exhibit a mastery of pop songwriting. From the pristine guitar-led opener “Leona” to the digital-piano ballad closer “Cold Hands Warm Heart,” the record makes a conscious effort to broaden the band’s scope with tracks characterized by ambient synths or breakbeats, somehow with nothing quite sounding out of place.

Although it comes as no surprise to learn that acts like Grouper and Aphex Twin were on the band’s mind when writing and recording the album, it is a bit of a shock to hear how exclusively dark their range of influence was, also citing the drab pop of The Cure, the grating electronics of Oneohtrix Point Never, and the painfully nostalgic slowcore of Red House Painters. Check out the full list of what co-vocalists Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon were listening to below between streams of their new record.

Remembering the Rockets is out today via Tiny Engines. You can order it here.

Isaac Eiger:

The Cure, “Plainsong”

This whole album was something we talked about a lot when figuring out our record. This is such a huge and crazy way to kick it all off. The Cure are the best because they do everything 100 percent.  

The Lemonheads, “My Drug Buddy”

Vocal delivery is totally perfect. Literally every single lyric is amazing. One of my favorite songs ever, but same goes for most of these.  

Red House Painters, “Katy Song”

One of the saddest, most beautiful songs. The part about London always kills me.  

Oneohtrix Point Never, “Animals”

Great pop song that pretends to not be a pop song. The swell towards the end is kinda subtle but feels huge when you’re in the right mood. Music video is awesome too.  

Grouper, “Headache”

Right after we finished the record I got totally obsessed with three or four Grouper songs. This song makes everything feel even realer than normal.  

Yves Tumor, “Lifetime”

The gliding feel of the drums with piano is one of my favorite sounds/feelings I’ve ever heard.  So much longing, and then the bass kicks in. The production is as good as production can be.

Fred Nixon:

Primitive Radio Gods, “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand”

This song kind of served as the jumping off point for the whole record. We were on tour with Snow Roller in I think 2017 and [guitarist Collin Kritz] put this on in the van at one point. We were like, “Whoa, this groove is absolutely thumping.” Subsequently spent a lot of time in a basement with Chill Dill trying to make loops like this.

Califone, “The Orchids”

It’s a Psychic TV, cover so I suppose we must give them some credit—but I like this version. The melodies and textures are so beautiful and the words make me cry. “In the morning after night, I fall in love with the light.” I mean come on. Fuck me up fam. Game over.

Souls of Mischief, “’93 ’Til Infinity”

One of the GOATs. This beat goes. I was listening to a lot of non-rock music before making this album. I like music that puts rhythm before melody sometimes. Our record is definitely still under the rock music umbrella, but we pulled influence from all over and I remember this joint resurfacing in my life around the time Rockets was being made.

Aphex Twin, “Ageispolis”

Love everything about this, but in particular the synth bass is so cool. We didn’t really do anything like this on Rockets. Well, maybe one brief moment. It was on my Summertime ’18 playlist, so I just remember listening to it a lot around that time. Maybe there will be synth bass on the next record.

Yohuna, “Apart”

A beautiful song in every regard. Guitar riff is hot, hot fire, but what really pulls me in is the break beat. The break beat is just so damn good. When I heard this I was like, every song should just have a break beat. Many of the tracks on Rockets do.

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