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Lucy Dacus: The 10 albums that changed my life

A picture of Lucy Dacus superimposed onto album covers
(Image credit: Matador)

When it comes to indie rock, Lucy Dacus has stealthily become big business. Having released three albums – including the freshly-released Home Video – so far, in 2018 she also became one third of cult supergroup boygenius, flanked by 2020 breakout star Phoebe Bridgers and singer-songwriter Julien Baker. Between them, they crafted an EP that contained some of the most eye-wateringly honest and striking music the genre has ever produced.

Home Video continues that trend, featuring “much more personal” songs that Dacus says will see her saying things that she’s “barely even said to herself”.

Here, we catch up with Dacus about the top ten albums that changed her life and inspired her career – with an extra thrown in for good luck.

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LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (2010)

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I feel like this band is actually underrated for their songwriting because they are so well known for having a great live show and being really dance-y. The music that they make has such a coherent vibe, that you can kind of forget about the words. I think James Murphy is such an incredible songwriter, and his music literally moves me. I’ve never been happier than at an LCD Soundsystem show, and I remember when they said they were gonna go on hiatus I cried. I’ve now seen them three times since they got back together, and I'll just stand towards the back of the crowd so I have more room to move around. 

Haley Heynderickx – I Need To Start A Garden (2018)

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This had a huge impact on my life because not only is she [Haley] a friend that I think is awesome, this record is like medicine for me. Whenever I get anxious I’ll listen to it and feel better, reliably. I’ll listen to it on planes, and when I’m feeling upset, it makes me feel like I’m being held. I also think her voice and songwriting is so gentle, so I really admire her.  

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)

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Wilco were one of the first bands that I heard who just made weird sounds. And I feel like I’m always thinking about them whenever I’m recording a record, because they seem really exploratory. Also, Jacob and Colin, my guitarist and co-producer, have always loved Wilco so it's like a mutual reference point for us all the time. For instance, in the new record we have this loop of our drummer hitting cans and spoons and stuff, so it's kind of a similar vibe to their song I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. 

Twain – Life Labors In The Choir (2014)

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Twain are a band that I saw live in Richmond where I grew up before I heard any of their recorded music. Their show had such a big impact on me and I’ve listened to this record so many times, so much on vinyl that the vinyl itself has deteriorated. Matt from that band has contributed to the Big Thief records, as well as music by Courtney Marie Andrews, so I think that as a person he tends to be very inspiring to the people around him.  

Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (2006)

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It’s such a funny title for an album, but this was the first Yo La Tengo record that I heard. After listening to it, I fell in love with them, and I’m just a huge fan now. And when Matador reached out to me I knew that they were Yo La Tengo’s label. At the time, I had a bunch of labels talking to me, but that fact silenced everything else. I was like “they’re Yo La Tengo’s label, I have to go with that one”. So that record actually shaped my life in a huge way. 

Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill (2008)

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I feel the most understood by the people I know that like Grouper. I have a lot of people in my life that just don’t get it, and it's true that her lyricism is cloaked in murky, watery sounds, but I feel like fall can’t happen without that record. It's what I listen to when I’m walking around in cold weather. It kind of makes me feel like I’m drowning but in a cool way.  

Sound And Colour – Alabama Shakes (2015)

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One record that has totally changed my life is this. Simply because it set a new bar sonically for me. Recording wise, I feel like I’m always reaching for the quality of this record. Sound And Colour was actually how I became familiar with Shawn Everett, as a mix engineer, and he mixed my upcoming record Home Video. Also, I think Brittiany Howard is one of the living greats of our time.  

Andy Shauf – The Party (2016)

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Andy Shauf’s songwriting is so immaculate, and he's such a good story teller. I feel like his music is that happy medium between music and book. It’s also the fact that he does almost everything himself. Even though I don’t do everything myself, I resonate with that ethos, as I wish I could do everything too but I just can't play drums, period. But I respect people who can. 

Laura Stevenson – A Record (2010)

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This was the first record that made me feel like I could make music. I could understand how they got all of those sounds, but yet it transcends the lo-fi quality. I feel like her songwriting is so awesome, as she doesn’t really pay attention to form, and because she captures the circumstances of her recording in the recording itself. It just made me feel like I could do it too someday.

Big Thief – Masterpiece (2016)

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This came out the same year as [Dacus' debut album] No Burden. We were kind of playing a lot of the same shows, and there are songs on that record that I’ll never forget hearing for the first time. I just think that they are one of the best bands ever. I’m never really more emotional than I am at a Big Thief show. For example, one time they were playing at Pitchfork fest, and I was crying so much in the front row that people were pointing and laughing at me.  

The Cure – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (1987)

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I learned of this band in middle school and it was one of the first bands that I thought was cool independently of anybody else. My parents raised me on Christian rock and musical theatre. I had friends that were really into bands like All Time Low and emo stuff, and then I had friends that were into classic rock, so I had a classic rock phase. But The Cure (opens in new tab), I was just genuinely all about, it was just a part of my own taste.

I talk a lot about the song Just Like Heaven because it was my song with my first boyfriend, and then other people I’ve dated have independently thought it was our song. I don’t know why it kept recurring, but actually, when I was in high school my band did a cover of Just Like Heaven. There was one show that we played where the entire front row was people that I was either dating, had dated or people that wanted to date me. So after the song was over, my two friends literally took me by the arms and got me out of there as we all knew there was just too much drama waiting to happen. Like, all the people on the front row were singing along with their fists up, thinking the song was about them. 

Lucy Dacus' new album, Home Video, is available now (opens in new tab) via Matador Records

Liz Scarlett
Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.