Playlist: The LumineersCo-founder and songwriter Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers lists five songs that have inspired him to keep things simple.
In 2012, a young folk-rock band from Colorado named the Lumineers made a splash with their debut single, “Ho Hey.” Despite no major-label backing, the banjo-flavored love anthem went on to sell more than 4 million copies in the U.S. alone.
A year later, their eponymous debut album reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart. Songwriter Jeremiah Fraites (wearing hat) credits the band’s simplicity for their success: “Anyone who can play an instrument can play a Lumineers song.” To celebrate the release of second album Cleopatra, the 30-year-old lists five songs that have inspired him to keep things simple.
The Felice Brothers - The Big Surprise (from the album Yonder Is the Clock)
“This band is a big inspiration to me as songwriter. That’s why we asked Simone Felice to produce our new album. This particular song, I just love it. They didn’t overproduce it, so it feels dangerous and vulnerable. The drum sounds are really inventive—they sound like random gunshots hitting a black canvas against the wall. I could listen to this a thousand times and never get tired of it.”
Bill Withers - Lean on Me
“This song is so simple I could teach a 3-year-old how to play it on the piano in a minute. But to come up with a melody that simple and unique—that’s real genius. It’s like with Italian food; each time I visit my wife’s family in Turin, I have some of the best meals in my life. The recipes are incredibly simple. It’s all about good ingredients, they say. With songs, it’s the same. It’s all about good, simple ideas.”
The Rolling Stones - Sweet Virginia (from the album Exile on Main St.)
“Wes [Schultz, his bandmate] and I both love this song. What draws us to it most is the recording. It sounds like the band and some backup singers were in a room, singing and screaming their hearts out. It doesn’t rely on Auto-Tune or the drums being corrected. Any wrong hit or wrong note was just left there, which makes it sound raw and direct. It’s a fantastic song that doesn’t hide behind anything.”
Dr Dog - The Truth
“This is a band I’ve been really inspired by. When I first heard their music, I thought they were an old band, but they’re our peers! They sound like the Beatles—very old and unpolished but in a beautiful way. I fell in love with this song in particular, because when we were on tour with them they asked me to play acoustic guitar on it every night. They write so much cool music. They should be much bigger.”
Jon Brion - Row (from the OST Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
“This one is a bit of an odd choice. It’s a two-minute instrumental from a film soundtrack, with just a guy playing the grand piano. But man, it floors me like nothing else. What I love about the piano is that it doesn’t allow for cheats; you just need to come up with cool stuff. This piece is a great example of that. It inspired me to record ‘Patience’—the last song on our new album—using the piano and nothing else.”