Twenty Top 5s with Hoagie Ensley

HEY! Welcome to Twenty Top 5s. I (Tyler) have been sending out questionnaires to some of my favorite musicians and asking for their top 5 in every category. I’ll be publishing them every Thursday for the foreseeable future. Hopefully this lets you get to know some of your favorite musicians a little bit better, and I hope it distracts you in these trying times.

Today's Twenty Top 5s participant is Chicago-based musician Ryan "Hoagie" Ensley. Hoagie is a veteran of the Chicago DIY scene, though his primary focus is his solo project, Sonny Falls. The first Sonny Falls full-length, Some Kind of Spectre, was released on Sooper Records (run by Nnamdi Ogbonnaya and Sen Morimoto, among others) in 2018. It established Sonny Falls as a tour-de-force of anthemic garage rock, driven by the heartbreakingly personal narratives Hoagie spins in his lyrics. Think Pavement and Bruce Springsteen doing the Dragonball Z fusion dance. The new Sonny Falls record, All That Has Come Apart/Once Did Not Exist, is Hoagie's most ambitious project yet. The album is in the process of being released in three parts through Plastic Miracles, Elise Okusami of Oceanator's new label. The new album features some of the best songs Hoagie has written, and just like Some Kind of Spectre, so much of the album feels like you're present with him.

When Hoagie is not working on his solo music, he stays very busy. He plays in another great Chicago-based band called Old Joy (, records his own podcast called the Hoagie Showgie (available on Spotify and elsewhere), and runs a fundraising project called Bake Bag (@bakebagproject on Instagram) with his partner Emma. His work ethic is second to none, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to hear this new record.

recording artists when you were in high school

1. Bright Eyes
2. Elliott Smith
3. Television
4. Dead Kennedys
5. Billy Joel

Songwriting influences

1. Elliott Smith
2. Dave Berman
3. Bill Callahan
4. Sonic Youth
5. Leonard Cohen

Instrument influences

1. Stephen Malkmus
2. Elliott Smith
3. Lee Ranaldo
4. Tom Verlaine
5. J Mascis

Karaoke songs

1. American Pie by Don McLean
2. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmm by Crash Test Dummies
3. Hook by Blues Traveler
4. Dancing in the moonlight by Thin Lizzy
5. The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson

Junk foods

1. Americone Dream by Ben and Jerry
2. Take 5
3. Double stuffed oreos
4. Reeses
5. Frozen snickers

Places to eat in Chicago

1.Kasias Deli
3. Dantes Pizza
4. Los Pollitos
5. Cafe Jumping Bean


1.The Fog
2. Reanimator
3. Taxi Driver
4. The Exorcist
5. Dig

Sonny Falls songs

1. All
2. Songs
3. From
4. New
5. Album

Things to cook at home

1. Cheesy Potato Spinach quesadilla
2. Chili
3. breakfast burrito
4.  Rice / Beans with spinach / peppers
5.  Chicken / peppers / onions

Productive ways to pass time during corona

1. Writing songs
2. Recording songs
3. Reading books
4. Meditating
5. Running / biking

Unproductive ways to pass time during corona

1. looking at social media
2. panicking
3. constantly reading the news
4. trying to find something to watch
5. mindlessly pacing the house

Songs right now 

1. Get the old band back together - Christian Lee Hutson
2. Loner - Dehd
3. Velodrome - 2nd Grade
4. Shadow of She was - Cyrus Gengras
5.  Los Angeles - Dougie Pool

80s pop jams

1. Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
2. Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen
3. Crimson & Clover - Joan Jett
4. You can call me al - Paul Simon
5. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams

Venues you’ve played 

1. Empty Bottle
2. Coles
3. Drkmttr
4. Hotel Vegas
5. UFO Factory

Albums that changed your life 

1. I'm Wide Awake It's Morning - Bright Eyes
2. From A Basement on The Hill - Elliott Smith
3. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Pavement
4. The Stranger - Billy Joel
5. Capacity - Big Thief

Pizza toppings

1. Cheese
2. sausage
3. onions
4. peppers
5. garlic

Cities you’ve visited 

1. NYC
2. New Orleans
3. Pittsburgh
4. Austin
5. Nashville


1. BBQ
2. bbq
3. bbq
4. bbq
5. mustard

Fictional characters 

1. Harry Potter
2. The Dude
3. Kramer
4. Walter White
5. Freddy Krueger

Written by Tyler Gallagher (@TylerGallagher8)