All Work and No Playlist: Hey Champ singer Saam Hagshenas’s favorite songs

Welcome to a new piece here at the Bullz-Eye blog, where we ask musicians to tell us which songs get their mojo risin’, as it were. Our inaugural subject is Saam Hagshenas, lead singer and guitarist of Chicago synth-rock trio Hey Champ, whose 2010 album Star is still in heavy rotation at BE headquarters and whose new EP Anything at All hit digital shelves earlier this month. It might not surprise you to hear that some Chicago house made the cut, but so did Led Zeppelin. Dude’s got diverse tastes, to be sure.

“Inspiration Information,” Shuggie Otis

Not only does it illustrate Shuggie’s amazing knack for songwriting, but it also seamlessly blends funk, soul, and psychedelic. Not to mention the guy went and pulled a Stevie Wonder, recording basically all the instruments himself while still a teenager.

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Led Zeppelin

This track is just so damn raw. If anyone ever disagrees with the absolute fact that this band is the Godfather of heavy metal and hard rock, make ‘em check this one out. Bonham’s thunderous drumming, the precision in Page’s and Jones’ musicianship, and Plant’s ridiculous range and blues-rock crooning make this a definite favorite.

“Can You Feel It,” Mr. Fingers

The bass line is so hypnotic, the chords so lush, and the drums so thumping. It’s a track that makes you feel as if you are in the sweatiest club all drugged out, giddy, and dancing your arse off.

“Can’t Get No Sleep (MK Mix),” Masters at Work

First heard this track on the “Resident Adviser” mix by Scott Grooves and keep coming back to it. Classic early ’90s house that still sounds incredibly fresh today!

“Waiting for the Band,” Nicky Hopkins

Nicky Hopkins was best known (“best known” being a relative term) as the studio keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, et al. He also made a few undeniably gorgeous songs of his own on his album The Tin Man Was a Dreamer, including this one.

“Video,” Jeff Lynne

Somewhere between putting the brakes on ELO and joining the Travelling Wilburys, Jeff Lynne found time to record this weird doo-wop-meets-synth-pop gem for the “Electric Dreams” soundtrack. We love you, Jeff.

“Melody,” Serge Gainsbourg

This song is all mood and sex; an incredible example of music that creates a tapestry and is so much more than just melodies and a beat. After listening to this, go have a listen to Beck’s “Paper Tiger” to see how much influence Serge yielded on modern music.

“Spacelullabye,” The Universe

While its thematic parallels to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” are obvious, this is a truly beautiful little tune that has one of those melodies you feel you’ve known your whole life. This is from a little side project from Architecture in Helsinki’s Gus Franklin.

“Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” The Four Tops

There was a sort of beautiful pain and desperation in the Four Tops’ music; the result, no doubt, of well placed minor chords and Levi Stubbs’ almost tortured delivery.

“Something in 4/4 Time,” Daryl Hall

We could go ahead and put on “Kiss on My List” on our list but everyone knows that one, and more importantly, this track came first!

  

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