My Favorite Album: Miki Berenyi of Piroshka on The Shangri-Las’ "Shangri-Las-65!" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, June 6th, 2020  

My Favorite Album: Miki Berenyi of Piroshka on The Shangri-Las’ “Shangri-Las-65!”

"‘The Boy’ is one of the most moving love songs I know. I literally cannot listen to it without tearing up—and believe me, I am not the sentimental type.”

Mar 20, 2020 Photography by Neil Stewart Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney
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I’m going to bet that every artist you’ve asked to contribute to this has said that picking an all-time favorite album is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE so I will echo that, but I’ll concede that from age 17, The Shangri-Las’ Shangri-Las-65! has stayed up there in my top 10. In that three-to-four-gigs-a-week (every week) year of 1984, one of my most regular bands to see was Thee Milkshakes, who played ’60s garage music with a punk rock edge, and provided musical backing for girl-group, The Delmonas. I was told that this was one of their favorite records. And then it became mine.

From the opening Motown-y groove of “Right Now and Not Later”—a no-nonsense “time to talk” song about whether we should split up (“if we can’t be lovers we can still be friends/’cause life goes on even though love ends”)—I loved the album’s mix of headstrong emotion (“Never Again”), melodrama (“The Train from Kansas City”), and cool banter (“Sophisticated Boom Boom”).

I’ve always been a sucker for harmonies, and you can sing pretty much every word of “Out in the Streets” (and many others, too) and not touch the main vocal. I never consciously lifted them as a songwriter, but I can recognize the influence instantly. And lyrically—so unheard of—a song about a girl realizing that her love is taming everything unique and interesting out of the “bad boy” she loves. Such a twist on the usual “I love you but you treat me bad” stuff of girls’ pop songs.

There’s no doubt that the mallet-heavy teen angst resonated with my violent adolescent moods, but please don’t think that I listened to The Shangri-Las weeping alone over a broken heart. In fact, my most treasured memories of this album is me and my schoolmate Kate singing and dancing to “Never Again” in my bedroom, building from cool, synchronized moves and laid-back harmonies to full-throated high-drama bellowing, finally collapsing in side-stitch hysterical laughter. It was a great record for acting out, and in those pre-computer days, we had to make our own fun.

And then to the perfect end—“The Boy” is one of the most moving love songs I know. I literally cannot listen to it without tearing up—and believe me, I am not the sentimental type. I think it’s something about the imperfect lead vocal—it’s so fragile and vulnerable. It absolutely feels like first love.

(Miki Berenyi was born in London in 1967 and came to prominence as the singer/guitarist in the ’90s band Lush, who were one of the leaders of the original shoegazing scene. The band released three full-length albums and one mini album before breaking up in 1996. They briefly reformed in 2015 and 2016, touring and releasing the Blind Spot EP. Berenyi is currently in Piroshka, a band that features her long time romantic partner, former Moose guitarist KJ “Moose” McKillop, as well as Modern English bassist Mick Conroy and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. Piroshka’s debut album, Brickbat, was released earlier this year via Bella Union.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

www.bellaunion.com/artists/piroshka/

www.facebook.com/piroshkaband/

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