Influences Playlist: Marina Allen

These are the 12 songs that influenced the LA singer-songwriter's new album, Eight Pointed Star, the most.

Music Features Marina Allen
Influences Playlist: Marina Allen

We are inviting our favorite musicians to compile playlists of the songs and artists who have impacted their latest projects the most. The latest Influences guest is Marina Allen, whose brand new album, Eight Pointed Star, is an immersive, imaginative and commanding feat of storytelling. With songs like “Red Cloud,” “Deep Fake” and “Swinging Doors,” the work is delightfully sun-kissed and jangly, driven by lightly textured guitars and ringing harmonies that are brightened by Allen’s sharp vocals and candid lyricism.

In her Paste Pick review, critic Emma Bowers wrote about the LA singer-songwriter: “Balancing her folksy Californian lushness with airy minimalism, the nine tracks on Eight Pointed Star reveal a nuanced terroir, inspired as much by the chilling effect of rapid industrialization of the last two centuries as it is by the idyllic warmth of artists like the Roaches, Joanna Newsom or Karen Dalton. Marina Allen approaches songwriting with one foot planted firmly in the present and one in the past, nodding to both the eerie advances of the modern world and the emotional and narrative contours of her own past through a sepia tinge.”

Check out Marina Allen’s Influences playlist, which includes tracks from Kate Bush, Lou Reed and Caroline Polachek, below:

Neko Case: “Maybe Sparrow”

Neko Case is one of my favorite songwriters of all time. She is a master lyricist. Sharp and tender, fierce and cunning, she is so damn good at saying the unspeakable. I come back to her music over and over again, meeting new insights and old friends each time.

White Magic: “Keeping the Wolves From the Door”

I found White Magic over the long days of Covid. I couldn’t afford rent in LA so I left to live in the Bay Area with my family. I have such vivid memories of walking around the woods and playing the album this song’s off of, Through the Sun Door. These songs urged me to give into the raw, surreal and warped moments.

Liz Phair: “Dance of the Seven Veils”

To me, this song feels like such an outlier off this iconic album. I love how many different places it goes—part biblical narrative, part personal confession, very high in her range, very low. I love playing this one at home.

Lou Reed: “Legendary Hearts”

I heart this legendary song. Don’t worry, I won’t explain why this song rules, because you already know. I will say this was pulled as an early reference for Eight Pointed Star. Not quite sure we got there but I’d like to say its influence showed up a smidge.

Caroline Polachek: “Hey Big Eyes”

I was late to Caroline Polacheck, and only recently got into Pang. Again, much ink has been spilled on this album- the entire bottle of ink- but this song, especially the beginning melody, sounds like a Chris Weisman song to me?! Do you hear it? I remember watching one of her Ramona Lisa music videos- a nod to Meredith Monk—she pulls from everywhere and sticks the landing every time.

Chris Cohen: “Damage”

Chris played this song, early in its development, on a tour we did together a couple years ago. I would love this part in his set. For whatever reason, a lot of indie music shies away from politics. This has its consequences. I’m inspired by Chris for many reasons, one of them being his fearlessness when it comes to speaking truth to power. Plus, this song is gorgeous. Another smart tactic to get people to listen to something that might make them uncomfortable. But only life is precious.

Chris Weisman: “Red Book”

I took guitar lessons from Chris Weisman in my early 20s. I shudder at how bad I was but he’s kind and never made me feel bad for being bad. We mostly “improvised” on the E string. Fast forward almost a decade and I took a zoom songwriting class he taught. “Deep Fake,” my favorite song off my new album, was written in response to one of his homework assignments. This is why I always say it’s good to have deadlines and assignments. I’m not sure I would have ever finished a song without a reason to.

Joanna Newsom: “Time, as a Symptom”

This song makes me weep. Just weep and weep. I was lucky enough to recently see her live in LA and I wept and wept. Her music is embodied, vivid, generous, transcendent, a gift. I left feeling so alive with wonder—that precious seed we must guard with all our might—especially in the face of so much destruction. These days it often feels like what gets rewarded in the industry is the artist who can conquer, who can seize the audience, who can dominate with intimidation. Whereas Joanna’s music is an offering, a reimagination, another way forward. The live show’s energy was one of deep communion and movement and spaciousness. I was never intimidated, I was let-in, nourished and included in spirit.

Kara Jackson: “pawnshop”

Incredible song. It has such a backbone to it. And muscle. And heart. It’s the whole body. Every line is the line you’d wished you’d have said. Best played after driving back from the weird encounter with an ex and fantasizing all your quippiest cracks.

Little Wings: “Darkened Car”

In a darkened car, you’re only who you say you are. Hilariously devastating. I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds like the kind of song that ruminated for so long, it just needed about a half glass of wine to get it out. P.S., you don’t need alcohol to write good songs.

Dear Nora: “Morning Glories”

When Kacey Johansing and I were on tour, we would play this song at the end of our set. This song is as luminous as it is heavy. Like going through moldy boxes in your basement. Pictures of people you hardly know or remember, unfocused photos you took as a kid with your disposable camera, snapping anything in your frame: the trees through your bedroom window, your old dead dog, your own blurry index finger.

Kate Bush: “Snowflake”

She’s a master at keeping the tension building. As though you are blindfolded and can only touch the shrubs and shells on your path. 50 Words for Snow is my favorite Kate Bush album, although it’s so hard to choose. Plus I’m such a sucker for any song with timpani.

Marina Allen’s Eight Pointed Star is out now via Fire Records.

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