Guest Playlist: The songs that influenced Joshua Moriarty’s new single “Isolation”

Joshua Moriarty

Melbourne songwriter, composer and podcast host Joshua Moriarty has returned with his new single, the aptly titled “Isolation”. 

The Miami Horror frontman wrote and recorded the song in 2019, working with the ARIA nominated producer Tony Buchen, in LA. The single forms part of Moriarty’s third record Melancholia, which is set to be released later in 2020. According to Moriarty, the single is influenced by the “extreme isolation and loneliness” that can come from being a touring musician.

“I wrote this song at the beginning of 2019, I had been travelling back and forward a lot to LA for music and gigs etc and I just started to forget who I was and what it was I was attached to. Everywhere I went nowhere felt like home and I was very disconnected from everyone and everything.”

To mark the release of “Isolation”, Moriarty has kindly put together a guest playlist for us, highlighting just some of the tracks that influenced the writing, recording and sound of the new single. Check out the playlist and Moriarty’s thoughts on the chosen songs below.

Supergrass – “Late In The Day”

Huge tune! I got this record when it first came out when I was a teenager. I’ve always loved Gaz Coombes and the way his chords move throughout his songs. It’s such an English thing; these chords that take you by surprise and send the song off in a different direction. It started with The Beatles and it just hasn’t stopped. There’s such a wealth of excellent songwriters from that part of the world! I also pinched the fade-in acoustic guitar for the intro of my song “Isolation” from this tune. I love a good fade-in, the first song off my first solo record War Is Over did the same thing. It’s quite an unexpected way to start something. Like a gentle touch of foreplay…

Minnie Ripperton –  “Magical World”

Minnie Ripperton is such a bad ass. She’s kinda like Harry Nilsson, one of those artists people know the tunes, but don’t always connect the dots. When I first came up with the chords for “Isolation” I had this drum beat for the tune, the constant snare marching forward. But, when we got Joey Waronker in to play he went for the slow simple vibe, which definitely suited the melancholy feeling better. Joey is an absolute fucking gun!! He had just came off the Roger Waters tour as the drummer for that whole Pink Floyd thing Waters does now. Joey also plays in Atoms For Peace with Thom Yorke and Flea as well as being Beck’s drummer. I was such a lucky boy getting his expertise, he’s a tub thumping dream boat.

Pink Floyd – “Breathe”

Well I guess it seems only natural to carry on to this song, as Joey had all his Floyd chops in full swing. This song is one of the best slow jams of all time. It feels like the quintessential stoner jam band go-to (and I mean that in a very respectful way…). Same thing I mentioned earlier about the chord movements, the English just have such a way with it, I think it’s become part of my musical DNA, a well placed unforeseen chord change gets me off.

Timber Timbre – “Hot Dreams”

For the last ten years I think Timber Timbre have pretty much been my favourite band. It happened slowly, I was wooed and courted by Taylor Kirk’s baritone more and more with each record until he had me melting in his arms. It has everything: exceptional lyrics, vocal delivery with such conviction, darkness and light, the whole package. This tune and record is a good introduction to get you in. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I believe Taylor Kirk will become an icon as the years go by, he’s just too good to be ignored.

Lee Hazelwood – “My Autumn’s Done Come”

Ah Lee, what a star! Took me a while to find my way in with Lee, but once I did I found some absolute gems. That voice and his lyrics, his whole character, I believe it completely. The arrangements are so romantic and again, the chord movements, I’m always harping on about the same shit but it’s just what tickles me, what can I say?

Air – “Venus”

Talkie Walkie was the first Air record I owned. I had heard Moon Safari around the place but never really knew who it was. It permeated every restaurant for a few years there so it was hard to ignore, but I never put a face to the name. I thrashed this record. I would say it’s definitely my favourite Air record and perhaps one of my favourite records of all time. A french cherub man and a french lothario with Nigel Godrich on production, enough said.

Scott Walker – “It’s Raining Today”

I think this was the first Scott Walker song I heard; it captivated me instantly. Those ominous strings mixed with the schmaltz of Scott’s voice and those lyrics, the whole thing is unsettling but incredibly beautiful. I think that’s kinda something that I really gravitate towards, mixing beauty and the terrifying; love songs with dark lyrics. I think that is what life is truly about, finding a way to balance and except the mix of the demonic and the saintly.

The Phoenix Foundation – “Slumber Party”

Another one of my favourite bands, it’s similar to Timber Timbre in how I was lured in slowly. As these guys kept putting out records I realised how incredible they were. I guess they are a bit of hidden kiwi gem, obviously they are known back home in New Zealand and their record Buffalo did well over in the UK. But, otherwise they are definitely underrated and haven’t received the acclaim they deserve. I could have picked a  whole bunch of their songs for this list but this one has such sick chords and follows in that tradition of songwriting I’ve been mentioning so it felt more apt. Go check them out, they are the best!

Harry Nilsson – “I’ll Never Leave You”

Same thing here. There are a million Harry songs I could have picked, but this one seemed to fit the playlist better. Chords, Harry’s voice, the arrangement, am I starting to sound like a broken record yet? Harry Nilsson should have been in the Traveling Wilbury’s. I need to find out why he wasn’t invited, it seems to make perfect sense to me…

David Bowie – “Space Oddity”

I had to include this, I would have been telling porkies if I didn’t mention this as a reference for “Isolation”. It’s not like I’ve ever had a super big hard-on for David Bowie or this song. But, I think through osmosis it just became part of my musical muscle memory. The fade-in acoustic guitar, some sweeping sounds and some sax, thanks for the inspo Dave \m/

Joshua Moriarty’s new single “Isolation” is out now. You can connect with Moriarty via Facebook and Instagram.

Header Photo: Lenise Ormsby 

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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