Talkhouse Weekend Playlist: Ducks Ltd.’s Personal History of Jangle Pop

The Toronto duo on some of their favorites of the genre (and beyond).

Ducks Ltd. is the Toronto-based jangle pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming). Last week, their debut album Modern Fiction came out on Carpark Records, so to celebrate, they put together a playlist of their favorite jangle pop songs — plus some others! — for us. Check it out below!
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music

Close Lobsters — “Just Too Bloody Stupid”

Foxheads Stalk This Land, the album this song comes from, is one of my favorite records and I think it’s in with a shout of being the best front-to-back jangle pop LP ever made. One thing that I really like about the album and the band is that it has a bit of a punky edge to it. There’s not even a hint of the tweeness that is sometimes part of this kind of music, and I think this song really captures that forcefulness.

— Tom

The Servants — “She Grew and She Grew”

I became obsessed with The Servants during the making of our album and was able to get my hands on the compilation Small Time/Hey Hey We’re The Manqués. They are such an underrated band. David Westlake does a great job blending melancholia with simple pop songwriting. 

— Evan

McCarthy — “Frans Hals”

Oh man, this band are so cool! A stridently Marxist jangle pop band, and I think this song might have one of my favorite lyrics of theirs: “The rich are out to get me/they want to see me hung, drawn and quartered.” Just an outrageously good thing to say in a pop song! Their catalog contains some of the sharpest political songwriting I can think of, and while we’ve never really written something as starkly political as this band generally are, I think it’s something that informs some of our songs. 

— Tom

The Fall — “Shoulder Pads 1#”

Mark E. Smith is the master of not overthinking or overcooking his music. So much of the Fall’s catalog stands the test of time because they kept it simple. Whenever I feel tempted to redo a take because it’s a bit scrappy, I resist the urge because that’s what is so great about The Fall’s sound. 

— Evan

The Verlaines — “Whatever You Run Into”

Graeme Downes has written some of my favorite songs and is a huge influence on the way I think about songwriting. This is one of my favorites of his. On one level it’s such a mean song, but there’s a tenderness to it. We actually spoke to Dr. Downes about arranging strings for the album, which didn’t end up working out, but he was really generous with his time and had a chat about songwriting that I was really excited about, as he’s one of my musical heroes. 

— Tom

The Moles — “Bury Me Happy”

James Cecil, who mixed our record, turned me on to The Moles as he thought our music reminded him of them. I was instantly hooked. A hidden Australian gem. 

— Evan

Talulah Gosh — “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God)”

Talulah Gosh were one of the first jangle pop bands that I really fell in love with and I think this is probably their best song. It manages to feel really individual and distinct in the way it uses language to capture a perspective. In relatively few words it communicates what kind of person is expressing this thing and who they’re talking about, which I think is a really important and sometimes difficult thing to accomplish. Also what a title! 

— Tom

The Feelies — “Let’s Go”

We were on a Feelies kick while recording and were especially into their albums Only Life and Time For a Witness. Sadly, those albums aren’t on Spotify, so we picked an old favorite from The Good Earth. We’re big fans of fast tempos and clean guitars and The Feelies do this better than anyone else. 

— Evan

The Pastels — “Comin’ Through”

I love the production on this track so much. It’s scrappy, melodic, and punchy. The autoharp is a really nice touch. 

— Evan

Grant McLennan — “Easy Come Easy Go”

This was going to be The Go Betweens song “That Way” which is a major favorite of ours, but alas, it is not on Spotify. This is another Grant McLennan song that I got really into while working on the album. I like this recording, but there’s actually another version of it that was demoed for a Go Betweens album that never got made where it’s just two acoustic guitars and you can really hear the unusual voicings he’s using in the rhythm guitar parts. I love stuff like that! 

— Tom

Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited) is the jangle-pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming). Their debut LP Modern Fiction is out now via Carpark Records.

(Photo Credit: Christiane Johnston)