Dave Helgi Johan dishes on the ultimate playlist that inspired new album ‘Drumheller’

You guys! Our man Dave Helgi Johan just unleashed a playlist that’s as expansive and eclectic as his debut masterpiece Drumheller. It’s like a musical smorgasbord that’ll have you gobbling up all kinds of sounds and vibes in one sitting.

Hot off the heels of his album drop last year, the Canada-born, Australian based artist is giving us a sneak peek into his creative process with a curated selection of tunes that inspire him. And boy, is it a trip!

From alt-rock royalty like The Smashing Pumpkins and Neil Young to underground heroes like Pat The Bunny, this playlist has got it all. There’s so much love and passion poured into this baby, it’s practically oozing out of our headphones.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into this playlist and get lost in the musical world of Dave Helgi Johan with his track-by-track breakdown below. Trust us, your mind and ears will thank you.

Dave Helgi Johan press image

There is something about music and often to myself the words and poetry that just grabs me and holds me closely. Here is just a short collection of some of my favourite songs and why I love them and how they have influenced me.

Alex G – Proud

This is definitely the song and the album it comes from 2017’s “Rocket” that brought me to the rabbit hole that is Alex G. Just listen to the words, melodies and progressions in this song. It is incredible. I’m always impressed by Alex G’s expanse of work at the young age of only 30 years old. Giannascoli along with some others like Daniel Romano, and King Gizz got to be some of the most prolific artists today.

Neutral Milk Hotel – In An Aeroplane Over The Sea

I don’t think it is possible to call one album or song my most favourite. There is too much great music out there. Though If I could only listen to one album for the rest of my life it is “In an Aeroplane Over The Sea” written by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. So yeah, maybe it is my favourite. I can go into detail about why this album is great but we would be here all day. So I’ll leave it at this: “How strange it is to be anything at all”.

Buck Meek – Candle

This is a shout-out to Buck Meek as well as Adrianna Lenker of the band Big Thief. Two incredibly talented song-writers in music right now. I love the Americana, folksy and country vibes to Buck’s solo music. I chose this song because it’s my favourite from Buck’s 2021 album “Two Saviours”. Fact: this song was my most played song in all of 2021.

Pat The Bunny – I’m Not A Good Person

Patrick Schneeweis Aka Pat The Bunny is one of my favourite songwriters in all Anchro-Punk or Folk Punk. I just love the self-deprecating lyrics. I just love this song. I highly recommend the work he has done with Ramshackle Glory and Wingnut Dishwashers Union to boot.

Sparklehorse – Heart Of Darkness

Mark Linkous is the man behind Sparklehorse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had his albums on repeat literally over and over again. Enough to make anyone else crazy I think. Haha. This song is “Heart of Darkness” from 1995’s “Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot”. Yes, that’s the name of the album. Linkous is also a major influence in his D.I.Y. approach to recording and performing. He has honestly been so inspiring to me. R.I.P. Mark Linkous 1962 – 2010.

Pinegrove – Aphasia

Evan Stephens Hall of Pinegrove is another young artist at only 33 years old releasing countless albums and even a movie “Amperland, NY”. Aphasia is a beautifully written song. The dynamics of the quiet, loud, and quiet are amazing in this song. The line “If I don’t have you by me then I’ll go underground” I’m obsessed. Love his all his work. This is modern Americana, Alternative Country and Indie Rock at its best.

Daniel Johnston – Walking The Cow

Daniel Johnston is an artist I’ve definitely obsessed over. This song along with most if not all of his music is beautifully written with a child-like charm. Johnston is a legend in the “Outsider” music scene. This song is fun and catchy. You probably haven’t realised the number of times his music has been covered by some of your favourite artists today. With countless albums and documentaries, the rabbit hole goes deep. R.I.P. Daniel Johnston 1961 – 2019.

Elliott Smith – Say Yes

When I was a young man my friend Micah Erenberg of “The Secret Beach” introduced me to Elliott Smith. I instantly fell in love with his smooth and snakey-moving voice. In my opinion one of the greatest songwriters of all time. His lyrics just cut deep. He went far to young R.I.P. Elliot Smith 1969 – 2003.

The Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

I got into Billy Corgan’s music far too late. I mean especially considering they’ve been a band since I was born. I’d like to shout out this song as its clever guitar playing truly taught me a new way to use the instrument that I never really knew before. The melodies and lyrics in this song are truly inspiring.

Wilco – Passenger Side

Jeff Tweedy is easily one of and If not my favourite songwriters of all time. One of my biggest influences. I pretty much know the wilco catalogue like the back of my hand. In 2022 they’ve released their 12th studio album and that is among so much more work including live albums, collaborative albums like the “Mermaid Avenue’ Series, eps, b-sides and more. Wilco’s music is always consistent, evolving and truly inspiring to me.

The Secret Beach – Miss you and Jameson Day – Just Feel

Shoutout to two underrated artists currently active in Canada right now. Both have just recently released two strong and musically cohesive albums with The Secret Beach “Songs From The Secret Beach’ and Jameson Day’s “About Times” both are like brothers to me and one of them might be Haha. They are so inspiring to me as songwriters and both actually doing all the production on their own work. One day when I’m not living in a van I would love to expand my recording space. I Honestly listened to both these albums repeatedly and they slap.

Neil Young – Heart Of Gold

Neil Young was always one of my Late fathers favourite artists. I was young and didn’t get it until my early twenties when I discovered Neil Young for myself and it changed my entire outlook on music really. I just love the sound of harmonica and guitar together. Young’s lyrics, melodies and voice are truly inspiring to me. Long live Neil Young and R.I.P. David John Sinnock Debrecen 1956 – 2011.

The Front Bottoms – Maps

A girlfriend of mine got me into this band and I just love Brian Sella’s song-writing. It is cheeky, fun and emotional. We drove 12 or so hours from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada once to see them perform in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. His words have truly inspired my song-writing. 

Grandaddy – A.M. 180

Jason Lytle is the song writer behind Grandaddy. I think I have listened to “Under The Western Freeway” on loop. I was lucky to find it on cd in an Op Shop in Australia so you know I had it bumping that on the road over and over again. I really love the D.I.Y. sound of this album. The noisy instruments, the cracking vocals, and the loud synth. Truly inspiring. The lyrics are beautiful just listen.

“We’ll sit for days

And talk about things

Important to us like whatever

We’ll defuse bombs

Walk marathons

And take on whatever together”

Ween – Birthday Boy “Original 1990 Recording” and “1992 Live Recording”

These songs are in no particular order, but this is a fun way to end the playlist with two versions. The original showcases Ween’s D.I.Y. approach to recording and the live version showcases the true beauty of its songwriting. The original is so “outsider” to me and just like other artists of the outsider genre the production is loose and gritty but the songs are often truly masterpieces. Just like Neutral Milk Hotel, we could be here a while when it comes to Ween. They are easily one of my favourite bands of all time. Their music catalogue is pretty extensive and the way they flow from an almost infinite amount of genres and influences, one thing that is always constant is their incredible talent and songwriting.

Dave is also stoked to announce he will be hitting the road starting March 2nd. Check out the dates and come say hi if you are around!


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