Please recommend music similar to Antony & the Johnsons.
October 15, 2009 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend music with the same 'qualities' and Antony & the Johnsons. I realize this is vague.

For reasons I can't understand, I've become instantly infatuated with Antony & the Johnsons. I'm looking for more music 'like' this, maybe having the similar qualities of being almost obscenely intimate, very quiet (or sparse in the instrumentation) and incredibly gentle. And maybe also kind of audacious. I'd try to define more specifically what I'm after, but the problem is that I don't know exactly what it is about them that's got me so hooked...
posted by kitcat to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Joanna Newsom.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:36 PM on October 15, 2009

Seconding Joanna Newsom. This is my favorite song by her Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie.
posted by hellogoodbye at 5:39 PM on October 15, 2009

Try pandora and enter Antony & the Johnsons. Then enjoy what it plays for you.
posted by JV at 5:43 PM on October 15, 2009

Also, maybe Jose Gonzalez. Go here for a lot of full tracks to preview.
posted by hellogoodbye at 5:49 PM on October 15, 2009

Response by poster: Actually, I don't have access to Pandora here in Canada (aargh!).
posted by kitcat at 5:51 PM on October 15, 2009

I know you can't listen to for free since you're in Canada, but you can at least see this page, right? Over 200 similar artists.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:57 PM on October 15, 2009

Sorry for the multiple posts, but my brain keeps spitting out ideas.... you would probably like one of the collaborators on 'I am a Bird Now': Devendra Banhart.
posted by hellogoodbye at 5:58 PM on October 15, 2009

I apologize for my assumption... Since I've been listening to pandora with Antony & The Johnsons as my input band, I've heard Mazzy Star, Cat Power, Michael Cashmore and Iron & Wine. They're all quite good though I can't say how well they will fit your requirements. (I have to admit I haven't heard much A&TJ before today)
posted by JV at 6:00 PM on October 15, 2009

You might enjoy The Mountain Goats, especially the quieter bits.
posted by GilloD at 6:22 PM on October 15, 2009

Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, The Mountain Goats, Patrick Wolf, Bonnie "Prince" Billy. This is one of my favorite genres... I'll post more as they come to me.
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:40 PM on October 15, 2009

Some suggestions, with example tunes:

Bon Iver: Skinny Love; Flume.
Crooked Fingers: New Drink for the Old Drunk; Black Black Ocean.
Nthing Jose Gonzalez: Heartbeats (A cover of The Knife); Crosses.
William Fitzsimmons: After Afterall; It's Not True.
posted by axiom at 6:47 PM on October 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you Jaltcoh - yup, I can see the page. Awesome.

As for what I recognize from everyone's (excellent) suggestions, I know about and love Joanna Newsom, Iron & Wine and the Mountain Goats.

I also thought of Nick Drake.
posted by kitcat at 6:49 PM on October 15, 2009

I bet you would really like The Incredible String Band. They were a big influence on many of the artists listed above. The Holy Modal Rounders are another ’60s psych-folk band in a similar vein.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 7:16 PM on October 15, 2009

David Thomas Broughton (youtube vid, mustwatch) might do you well. Haunting.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:19 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Bon Iver.

And obviously, Lou Reed.
posted by Beardman at 7:34 PM on October 15, 2009

Arthur Russell
posted by lunalaguna at 8:00 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Cat Power-- she captures the soul-crushing sadness of Antony pretty well.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:10 PM on October 15, 2009

You might also like the haunting qualities of Goldfrapp's early albums (the later ones get more dance-y and mainstream and not as melodic).
Another one is The Album Leaf, though it is more electronic and less orchestral. If you like them, you'll maybe also like Her Space Holiday.
I also second Arthur Russell.
posted by rmless at 8:15 PM on October 15, 2009

Oh, man, seriously Final Fantasy. (Not the video game.) The guy who makes the music is Owen Pallett and he is an INCREDIBLE violinist who also plays in Beirut, the Arcade Fire, etc. In my mind, his songwriting puts those bands to shame.

He's a little less over-the-top in delivery than Antony (if that is indeed his name), but not much. The orchestration is unreal. The guy plays all the instruments, and it blows me away.

Get this album (I refuse to write the name as it is the worst thing by far about the album, which is kind of cool really) and don't look back.

Ummm...can you tell I like his music?
posted by nosila at 8:21 PM on October 15, 2009

If you don't mind old and slightly scratchy recordings, you should listen to Washington Phillips. His songs are heartbreakingly gentle and sweet — the high part on that first one I linked to just about reduces me to tears — and his vocal delivery is rough, casual and dead fucking right all at the same time.

Also, the mention of Devendra Banhart reminds me of his brilliant cover of Fistful of Love. It hasn't got the sort of intimate arrangement you're looking for, and you should totally check out some of Banhart's stuff where he's just singing and playing the guitar, but it's great for emotionally vulnerable and audacious.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:36 PM on October 15, 2009

Yeah, Final Fantasy might be a good start. His new album is FINALLY coming out early next year. He's a stunningly nice guy and an incredibly talent. Ignore his silly album/song names and dig in.
posted by GilloD at 10:59 PM on October 15, 2009

Billie Holiday
Marianne Faithful (mid-career)
Laurie Anderson
posted by benzenedream at 11:01 PM on October 15, 2009

Tindersticks have that same gloomy torch song quality, and their lead singer's style reminds me quite a bit of Antony, albeit quite a bit deeper. "Tiny Tears," from their first album, is a very good place to start.

You also might like Baby Dee, who comes from the same scene and who shares a Current 93 connection with Antony and the Johnsons. "Little Window" is a solid place to start. My favorite of hers is "So Bad," but all I can find of hers is this live version, which is still pretty awesome. Get the double-CD collection The Robin's Tiny Throat, which is a compilation of early EPs and singles and in my opinion better than the more recent album, Safe Inside the Day, which was probably more fun to record but isn't nearly as haunting or poignant.

Coincidentally, I've spent the latter half of this week listening to nothing but Antony, Baby Dee, Tindersticks, and Iron & Wine.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:57 PM on October 15, 2009

Soft Black Stars was recorded/released about the same time that DT was discovering (and releasing the first LP by) A&TJ and is similar (it's all melancholy piano). Thunder Perfect Mind is probably their most popular album though.

Antony has often said he was heavily influenced by Nina Simone, and I think anything she released up until she signed to RCA is a safe purchase. I'm especially fond of the live comp The Tomato Collection, though this Colpix comp is also a good doulbe-CD introduction.

If you already know and love JN and I&W with your A&TJ, you'd prob like Marissa Nadler. Less like A&TJ but more like others mentioned, Damon and Naomi are very good but may have to grow on a person. The Dirty Three are sparse, mostly quiet then ocasionally loud, melancholy, and all instrumental. And if instrumental bands are ok, Systems/Layers and Music for Egon Shiele, and the Sea and the Bells by Rachel's have the qualities you are looking for.
posted by K.P. at 1:26 AM on October 16, 2009

Vincent Gallo
posted by fire&wings at 2:18 AM on October 16, 2009

Everyone in Sweden who likes Antony & the Johnsons also likes Cocorosie.
posted by beerbajay at 3:27 AM on October 16, 2009

For some reason, this Nico album somehow goes with Antony and the Johnsons in my mind.
posted by katie at 3:43 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

At last I have an excuse to recommend my favorite American songwriter, Michael Hurley. He's an old folkie, unlike many of the indie-affiliated artists recommended here, but I believe he has a variation on the quality that makes Antony & the Johnsons special: gentle, intimate, conveying the complexity of his solitude in a subtle but devastating way. A lot of his songs are humorous, but even those have that weird surfeit of innocence that is inherently tinged with melancholy. I love Michael Hurley, and I sincerely hope you will, too.
posted by geneva uswazi at 6:54 AM on October 16, 2009

Surprised nobody's mentioned Mark Hollis yet.
posted by davebush at 7:16 AM on October 16, 2009

At the more avant end, I'm really enjoying Niobe, who's got the same bleak theatricality and warm electronic feel.
posted by bendybendy at 8:34 AM on October 16, 2009

Seconding Baby Dee.
posted by RGD at 9:22 AM on October 16, 2009

I can't believe that no one has mentioned Edith Piaf yet. I'd say that she and Billie Holliday are what you want.
posted by matildaben at 10:10 AM on October 16, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, thanks everybody! A lot of these I could have never found on my own. Like Washington Phillips, for example. Amazing.
posted by kitcat at 10:32 AM on October 16, 2009

David Thomas Broughton
David Thomas Broughton
David Thomas Broughton
posted by saul wright at 5:57 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Antony & the Johnson remind me of some Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry songs -- over-the-top emotion and that Piaf warble:

If There Is Something (stick around 'til the 2:00 mark; the song ... becomes ... something else, and Ferry just lays his heart out there. Never fails to send chills down my spine.)

When She Walks in the Room

More Than This

Slave to Love
posted by Bron at 7:14 PM on October 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for David Thomas Broughton.

Also, I think my next post may be asking for more gay/transexual/transgender or sexually gender-ambiguous singers (unless I can sneak it in here). Baby Dee is fantastic.
posted by kitcat at 7:29 PM on October 16, 2009

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