Enya, if she drank coffee and sometimes got cut off in traffic
July 31, 2020 12:36 PM   Subscribe

When I was a teen, I was *really really* into Enya. What music for you hits that same spot without being quite so sleepy?

I listened to ALL! THE! ENYA! in junior high and she will always have a special, weird place in my heart. But when I try listening to her albums as an adult, I find a lot of her music to be sedated and mushy-sounding, without much variety (all those steadily tick-tocking strings with endless swelling aaaAAhhs...). I've stumbled across songs that sound kind of like Enya if she skipped yoga class or had an angry breakup, and am wondering if you could recommend others. I have seen previous questions sort of along this line but the askers were specifically looking for calming, uplifting, or sleep-inducing music and that is not a requirement here.

These songs tend to keep some of those really nice synthesizer or layered vocal harmonies, usually have an electronica sound, often in a minor key. But if you have a song where you think "this just kind of feels like Enya, except with a bit of a bite," that's great too. 

I already listen to or am aware of Sigur Ros, Bjork, Loreena McKennitt, Enigma, Clannad.

Examples of what I'm thinking of:

Blood Machines (Intro) - Carpenter Brut (got that synth sound but it's fast)

Familiar - Agnes Obel (some layered vocals, lovely melody, but also weird and unsettling)

Johnny Belinda - Active Child (layered vocals and a harp, but darker, sadder)

Think - Kaleida (electronica sound, vocalist sounds a bit like Enya, but more alert)
posted by castlebravo to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
How about some Japanese Breakfast?
posted by btfreek at 12:53 PM on July 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh, gosh, Sinead O'Connor. She gets angry that people compare her to Enya. Try Jackie O or Mandinka.

Try Sia as well. Like Chandelier or Elastic Heart or Someday we'll be found.
posted by effluvia at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2020 [6 favorites]

Also, Sinead O'Connor's cover to Song to the Siren.
posted by effluvia at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Natalie Mering aka Weyes Blood has cited Enya as an influence - perhaps her song Movies might fit your bill.
posted by misteraitch at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

Not sure how on point these are but maybe The Japanese House, or anything by Beth Orton.

Grace Joyner is a south carolina artist that has a lovely dreamy (but not sleepy) sound.
posted by ftm at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Deep Forest? Mazzy Star? Enigma? Massive Attack?
Along with Enya, you'd have one helluva 'Early 90's Sex Mix' CD decorated in Sharpie. Or a sudden urge to watch The Beach with young DiCaprio and Swinton.
posted by bartleby at 1:17 PM on July 31, 2020 [11 favorites]

This is what I’m listening to now, as a former Enya teen. Don’t let chill in the name fool you. It’s instrumental, though. Might be a good jumping off point.
posted by brook horse at 1:21 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

After listening to that Natalie Mering piece, perhaps try some Philip Glass. I really like Dancepieces.
posted by sammyo at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2020

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't like Enya (sorry!) but wonder if you might like Beach House or other dream pop.
posted by pinochiette at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2020

Try Julianna Barwick--it's electronic music, often made largely of loops of her voice. You might also like Liz Harris aka Grouper (her other albums have more loops and fuzz, that one's more stripped down).
posted by box at 1:59 PM on July 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

I was an Enya loving teen, and I think you might like Jeremy Dutcher. His Polaris award winning album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa blends his vocals and instrumentals with century-old wax cylinder recordings of his indigenous ancestors’ songs.

My favourite of his pieces: Mehcinut. It still gives me the chills, it’s so beautiful.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:00 PM on July 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

I don't have specific songs, but Morcheeba and Goldfrapp might work for you. Maybe also check out Cocteau Twins.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Japanese House
posted by Violet Hour at 2:32 PM on July 31, 2020

Best answer: Fovea Hex might be exactly what you're looking for.
FH is the long-running project of Irish singer/songwriter/composer Clodagh Simonds (some might remember her from her appearances on Mike Oldfield's 'Hergest Ridge' and 'Ommadawn' or her early 70's group Mellow Candle) in collaboration with Carter Burwell (of Cohen Brothers soundtrack fame), Brian and Roger Eno, Michael Begg (Human Greed), Colin Potter (Nurse With Wound), Andrew MacKenzie (The Hafler Trio), Steven Wilson, young Irish musicians Cora Venus Lunny and Laura Sheeran and others and exists somewhere between earthy folk music, etherial ghost sound and electronic abstraction. None of Enya's overproduction and softness but the feeling is sometimes very similar.

A personal favourite: While You're Away (note: long intro, vocal begins around 2 minutes in)

Clodagh is possibly the only person to have guested with both Thin Lizzy and Current 93, such is her range.
posted by remembrancer at 2:34 PM on July 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Triphonic - Good Enough
Phantogram - Fall in Love (Until the Ribbon Breaks Mix)
Going off of Blood Machines, try Marina and the Diamonds - Mowgli's Road (Russ Chimes Remix)
The Submarines - 1940 (Amplive Mix)

I think you'd like most downtempo/trap/alternative r&b. Those may be genres to go digging in. Pandora is great for this stuff.
posted by bfranklin at 2:35 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Early Love Is Colder Than Death.
posted by Candleman at 2:43 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Song to the Siren was also covered in an epic version on This Mortal Coil's first album (1984), featuring singers from The Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, who all employed moody ethereal vocals, layered string synths, space echoes, and proto-goth vibes, etc.
posted by ovvl at 2:46 PM on July 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

I feel like Kim Boekbinder might hit that spot.

Check out The Sky is Calling, for example (electronica/synth plus hammered dulcimer, and layered vocals). Her music as a whole weaves in and out of the styles/sounds you've listed.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks to getting into The Last Kingdom on Netflix I also learned about Eivør, who writes and performs the music for the show. Check out Í Tokuni.
posted by capricorn at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

As a fellow fan of Enya during my witchy teen years, off the top of my head I think maybe some of this stuff kind of scratches that itch?

- ionnalee/iamamiwhoami
- Poliça
- Bat For Lashes
- Purity Ring
- Garmarna
- Massive Attack (linked above)
- Hooverphonic (also linked earlier0
- Blue Foundation
- Fever Ray
- Azam Ali/Niyaz
posted by wakannai at 3:32 PM on July 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yaima, Beach House, Alvvays, Oui Lele, SaQi all hit that spot for me.
posted by annathea at 5:17 PM on July 31, 2020

Tanita Tikaram? Try this or this.
Tasmin Archer?
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 5:44 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Fleet Foxes scratch this itch for me in every way possible. 15/10.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:50 PM on July 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you like blood machines, that's cousin to a 80's-homage synth genre called synthwave and a million related microgenres....
posted by lalochezia at 8:09 PM on July 31, 2020

Boy do I love a chance to recommend Sylvan Esso!
Some tracks of theirs that this particular Ask brings to mind:
...but you really can't go wrong with anything they've recorded.
posted by D.Billy at 8:19 PM on July 31, 2020

You might like shoegaze. I liked Enya far too much when I was 12 and now I like shoegaze. If like you it’s about layering so much over and over then My Bloody Valentine (ear plugs at live performances essential!) might work for you. Also Lush has a similar sound. For a jazzier sound there is always Stereolab These are classics to start with to see if you like the genre. If you have Spotify you can give this playlist a try. Many of the above suggestions on this list as well.

(I had to laugh about your yoga comment. I spend a lot of time listening to Spotify playlists called things like Seratonic and some songs are not so far removed from music I’ve heard at a relaxing day spa. It’s a very fine line!)
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:39 AM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh yes - mention of Deep Forest reminds me of the related Marta Sebestyen bender I went on in the mid-90s once I grew out of the Enya phase. Hungarian folk artist - did some electronica stuff and then went on to sing on The English Patient Soundtrack.

(I’ve already made a playlist of all artists people have mentioned here so far - thanks for the ask.)
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 4:26 AM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Anna von Hausswolf might fit the bill, especially her Ceremony album (2013): Deathbed is a standout track (with an OTT video).

Also: Jenny Hval.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:01 AM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sigur Ros
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:54 AM on August 1, 2020

Beta Band might tick some of the same boxes.

Dry the Rain
posted by bdk3clash at 7:56 AM on August 1, 2020

Currently on my playlist:

Salt Cathedral
posted by MuChao at 10:51 AM on August 1, 2020

One that came to mind is Brigid Boden. I know her first self-titled release from the 90s.
posted by Animus at 12:10 PM on August 1, 2020

Cocteau Twins are right up there.
posted by Mr.Krotpong at 1:02 PM on August 1, 2020

I'm going to have to go more thoroughly through this thread for a list of new bands to check out...

Anyhow, something else that may fit the bill is Chelsea Wolfe.
posted by vernondalhart at 1:38 PM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have a whole playlist of music like this, I won't repeat the ones that have already been mentioned, but it would be a shame if you didn't check out Glasser. If you're looking for a bit more rock and roll, I love Warpaint. Sharon Van Etten and St. Vincent are lovely. Braids, Chairlift, Julia Holter, Blouse. I could go on and on...
posted by orange_square at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

No Ebeyi yet?
Also Keep Shelley in Athens
posted by iamkimiam at 5:08 PM on August 1, 2020

Austra came to my mind (try I Love You More Than You Love Yourself - layered female vocals, synth, modernistic somehow).
posted by theweasel at 6:30 PM on August 1, 2020

A group called Dizzy gives me a similar vibe:

Dizzy - Backstroke
posted by imabanana at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2020

Ulrich Schnauss
posted by thivaia at 6:12 PM on August 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

And there's always new-ish Wye Oak
posted by thivaia at 6:14 PM on August 2, 2020

This came on Spotify today and made me think of this question.
posted by knownfossils at 3:20 PM on August 3, 2020

Best answer: The album We Loved Her Dearly by Lowell, particularly "The Bells"
posted by Hypatia at 8:29 AM on August 4, 2020

Maybe some Happy Rhodes songs kind of do this?
posted by methinks at 10:31 AM on August 6, 2020

Response by poster: This is really late, but you are all awesome for so many suggestions. I've had information overload and am s*l*o*w*l*y picking away at all of these options. but I see all you lurking Enya fans who favorited this question, there are dozens of us! dozens! Clearly "mad Enya" needs to be a genre of its own.

Many of you suggested groups I realize I already listen to but hadn't made the Enya connection (Polica, Sharon Van Etten, Phantogram, Sylvan Esso, Purity Ring...) I do listen to a ton of synthwave but it's mostly harder and only one-off songs here and there remind me of Enya, like my Carpenter Brut example. A couple other artists that I've found since posting:

BANKS, particularly Till Now
Some of Ladyhawke, especially Magic
Also I knew of this band from a while ago, but definitely the Jezabels (Come Alive)
posted by castlebravo at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2020

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