You could easily get lost in a list of celebrities who’ve tried their hand in the recording studio, but there aren’t too many who have re-entered the booth. This week will see the release of the third record from actor/director David Duchovny, whose discography is beginning to creep up to the prolificacy of his bibliography. Gestureland continues along the earnest heartland-rock-by-way-of-alt-country trajectory established on his 2015 debut and its 2018 follow-up, further shedding any novelty charm on each successive release and gaining the artist a solid fanbase.
The stronger full-band sound heard on Gestureland is the result of just that—a stronger bond with his bandmates and a more collaborative approach to songwriting. Yet perhaps what makes the record sound so firmly rooted in the contemporary folk-rock and left-of-center country scenes is Duchovny and his band’s interests within these genres, which overlay classic songwriters like Neil Young and Morrissey and of-the-moment artists like Sharon Van Ette and Kurt Vile. To get a taste for what the band was listening to as Gestureland was gestating, you can listen to the playlist Duchovny made us below and read on for his commentary.
Sharon Van Etten, “Seventeen”
Such a cathartic song, and one that was on heavy rotation for us while making the album. The propulsive drums and wall-of-synths were big inspirations for “Holding Patterns” and “Everything Is Noise.”
Owl John, “Red Hand”
The electric guitar tone on this song has been a repeated reference for us over the years, and it was something we came back to while tracking “Mind of Winter.”
Andy Shauf, “Hometown Hero”
The arrangements on all of Andy Shauf’s records are superb. We drew lots of inspiration from this for the orchestral elements on songs like “Tessera” and “Chapter and Verse.”
Father John Misty, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
This song does so much with just the drums and electric guitar. That minimalist vibe inspired the intro of “Nights Are Harder These Days.”
Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer”
Neil Young is someone we’re always referring to and constantly inspired by, especially for our grittier songs. “Cortez the Killer” just has such a wailing, beautiful guitar tone that we channeled on the solo of “Nights Are Harder These Days.” I was just sort of thinking, “What would Neil Do?” So we turned the amp way way up.
Yo La Tengo, “Last Days of Disco”
This song is so soft and intimate. I love how quiet everyone is playing and how softly Ira is singing. “Stay Until” has this similar thing where the music is very patient, it takes time to grow and build. Nice soft elements that come in and out.
Nick Hakim, “Miss Chew”
Nick’s music has all of these incredible sonic textures that are super dreamy. We wanted to do something kind of like that on “Call Me When You Land.” Rather than produce it in a straight ahead pop way, we thought it would be cooler to have these murky guitars, synthesizers, and vocals to give it this dreamier energy.
We really love how simple and driving the drums are in this song. I think it subtly helped inspire the rhythm section in “Layin’ on the Tracks” and “Nights Are Harder These Days.”
The Smiths, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
We really enjoy the jangly guitar sounds that The Smiths perfected. This was a big inspiration for the guitars in “Playing at the Same Dream.”
Kurt Vile, “One Trick Ponies”
This song has such a strong groove. It’s the perfect summer driving tune and could be played on repeat. I think we really wanted to channel this feeling when arranging and producing songs like “Sea of Tranquility” and “Pacific Coast Highway.”