This week’s playlist was created by Mike Aicken of Belfast’s indie-pop boy-girl duo, New Portals.

Mike and Ruth Aicken have clocked over 11 million Spotify streams as songwriters, and released their fourth single as a duo, ‘Stay Here Tonight‘, just last month. BBC Radio 1 are fans, and you can also hear them gracing the airwaves at MAC Cosmetic stores across the US, or your local H&M and Co-op in the UK. The emotive nature of their lyrical content, and crisp production, also lends itself well to the screen. Listen out for them on the upcoming, international feature film, She Has A Name, and new crime TV series, Farr.

“I’ve been loving the new album, A Moon Shaped Pool,” says Mike, on the latest release from Radiohead, “but it has also prompted us both to go back and listen through the older material. As teenagers, Radiohead were a massive inspiration for me. It was tracks from The Bends and OK Computer that I spent hours learning on guitar, singing and playing in my first band, ‘Raucous’. Significantly too, it was on the day of a Radiohead show in Belfast that I proposed to Ruth! She said yes.”

In no particular order, check out Mike’s Top 10 Early Years’ Radiohead Songs…

1. ‘Pyramid Song’ (Amnesiac, 2001)

“I remember helping a friend to study for a resit exam and while he was busy studying I would lie in bed listening to Amnesiac over and over again with headphone on. I got the limited edition library book version, which we still have somewhere in the garage. I still have an ambition to meet Thom York… last year I was convinced for a whole 30 minutes that he was standing in front of me in a queue, skiing in the French Alps, but alas, it wasn’t him.”

2. ‘Stop Whispering’ (Pablo Honey, 1993)

“I went back and discovered Pablo Honey after OK Computer and really enjoyed the freshness of the songwriting, before their fame and massive success, before the production complexities – just great writing – this track was my favourite. Okay, second favourite on the album…”

3. ‘Everything In It’s Right Place’ (Kid A, 2000)

“This isn’t even a joke – this song is ideal for tidying the house and I still use it for that!”

4. ‘Black Star’ (The Bends, 1995)

“That second verse, where everything else drops out and it’s just Thom’s softer, more sensitive vocal, bass and really simple drums – what perfect instrumentation.”

5. ‘How Can You Be Sure’ (B-Side, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’, 1995)

“Although a B-side from Fake Plastic Trees, ‘How Can You Be Sure’ really resonated for me. It’s such an important question to ask people and one that gets people really angry if they aren’t sure about something. Did I just get political or religious there?”

6. ‘How I Made My Millions’ (B-Side, ‘No Surprises’, 1998)

“This song is seriously stripped back. I remember reading somewhere that Thom recorded a demo of this in his kitchen with his wife chopping vegetables in the background. Apparently he brought the demo to the band and they refused to work on it further, saying it was perfect as it was. It made it onto the B-side of  ‘No Surprises’. Someday I hope to write a song so good that Ruth will tell me it’s perfect ;-)”

7. ‘Killer Cars’ (Itch EP, 1994)

“Radiohead aren’t known for their humour, but this one is funny; in a very dark, Radiohead way.”

8. ‘Talk Show Host’ (B-Side, ‘Street Spirit’, 1996)

“I had no idea what was going on in the movie Romeo and Juliet that this song soundtracked, and no idea really what the lyrics are about, but it didn’t matter. This song just has such amazing vibes. Possibly my favourite on this list.”

9. ‘Like Spinning Plates’ (Amnesiac, 2001)

“We need to cover this song, if for no other reason that I spent hours learning how to play their live version on piano! Incredible song, with the lead vocals on the album version actually running backwards! Who can get away with that? Radiohead, that’s who.”

10. ‘You Never Wash Up After Yourself’ (My Iron Lung EP, 1994)

“Another ‘perfect demo’ I think. This was from the My Iron Lung EP. I love the fact that nowadays everyone’s releasing singles and industry folk are arguing over how often bands should release their singles, but back then, Radiohead had so many incredible songs that not only did they release a single with a B-side, but they released a single with a whole EP. And, in my humble opinion, the other tracks were better than the single itself. This serves as a reminder to me- it doesn’t matter how many songs you have in the bag- if you don’t keep writing, you aren’t a writer. Quantity begets quality. Even without ever gaining critical acclaim, it’s massively empowering to know that you are responsible for developing your own craftsmanship- whether as a writer, a musician or in anything else in life. It’s also a reminder to not let the washing up pile too high…”

New Portals play Cargo, Shoreditch, on June 22nd, alongside Youth Club, Harper and Lua Monique. Get your tickets HERE.

Photo: Tony Webster, Big Bad Llama

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