The Big Issue : Edition 467
THE BIG ISSUE 12 – 25 SEP 2014 17 THE DISCIPLES DOUG WALLEN SURVEYS TODAY’S MUSIC SCENE AND EXPLAINS HOW MUCH OF IT GOES BACK TO BUSH. Tori Amos Inviting easy Kate Bush comparisons at the start of her 1990s career, the pianist wooed the alt-rock crowd with her mix of fragile balladry, flitting vocals and volatile arrangements. Now up to her 14th studio album with this year’s acclaimed Unrepentant Geraldines, Amos has released more albums than Bush – and courted a classical fan base at the same time. Florence + the Machine With just two albums, Florence Welch’s band has won many awards, including the 2009 Mercury Prize for their debut, Lungs. At once bombastic and ethereal, Welch’s songs follow on directly from Bush’s work, although Welch takes the influence to operatic, stadium-swollen extremes. Lorde Big Issue cover star (Ed#462), New Zealand teenager Ella Yelich- O’Connor became the breakout music act of the past year, thanks to her smash hit, ‘Royals’. A precocious songwriter who embraces baroque eccentricity, she seems a ready-made heiress to Bush. But Lorde also taps hip-hop iconography and gothic brooding, as seen in the video for ‘Tennis Court’. And really, it’s too early to tell just where she’ll go musically. Björk Between her vocal range and theatrical bent, Björk definitely rivals Bush as a brilliant, often over-the-top art-pop star. Like Bush, the Icelandic iconoclast makes albums that exist in their own genre-defying microcosm. Yet, as strange and ambitious as her work gets, like the mostly a cappella Medúlla (2004) and the multimedia Biophilia (2011), it remains accessible all the same. Bat for Lashes Natasha Khan has cited Bush as a vital influence. Her albums as Bat for Lashes swing between melodramatic excess and haunting minimalism. The Haunted Man (2012), however, matched Khan’s far-ranging ambition with stellar vocal chops. Like those of Bush, Khan’s songs aren’t hemmed in by genre expectation; they are set free to explore. The Jezabels Although their music leans towards brooding alt-rock, Sydney quartet The Jezabels are ultimately defined by the leaping, acrobatic voice of singer Hayley Mary. Her grand swoops have been likened to Bush repeatedly, especially on this year’s second album, The Brink. In this case, Bush’s legacy made it okay for a rock singer to flitter around the highest reaches, tapping operatic drama. Kate Miller-Heidke Speaking of opera: Miller-Heidke has juggled an opera-singing career with her pursuit of pop stardom. This year the Australian siren reprised her role in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer while touting her dizzying fourth album, O Vertigo! Miller-Heidke engineers her songs as teeming ecosystems where the vocals, arrangements and production intertwine impressively – just like that other Kate. And many more... Bush’s influence hasn’t just affected female artists. The English band Futureheads practically secured their career with a remarkable 2005 cover of ‘Hounds of Love’ (1985), while Coldplay took inspiration from Bush’s 1985 hit ‘Running Up that Hill’ for their 2005 single, ‘Speed of Sound’. Big Boi, of the visionary rap duo OutKast, is also an outspoken Bush fanatic. And that’s just scratching the surface: Bush’s songs have been covered by everyone from Pat Benatar and Tina Arena to The Church. For all her specific quirks, Bush’s appeal is surprisingly universal. » Doug Wallen is The Big Issue’s Music Editor.