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The evolution of rock n roll is evidenced perfectly in the alternative rock duo Crushed Out, especially on their latest album, Alien Ocean.
Frankie Sunswept and his now wife, Moselle Spiller started Crushed Out in Brooklyn after meeting at a rooftop party. They began playing small gigs and created the first band that either one had ever performed in: “When Moselle and I first started playing together it was so exciting and it fueled this explosion. We were given this gift where we could play together and make high-energy, fun, dancy rock and roll,” says Sunswept.▼ Article continues below ▼
This energetic attitude was reflected in the duo’s first two albums, Show Pony and Want to Give which featured fast-paced and unsuppressed tracks such as “Crown of Wildflowers” and “Nailgun,” having been recorded completely live in order to preserve the wild spirit of their earlier music.
“Those first recordings were just the raw joy of the fact that we could play together. That first record, Show Pony was completely live,” says Sunswept.
“It was very fun because we went into the studio with just a big nice vintage board and a two-inch tape machine, and we miked everything up to do a studio recording, but then also sang the vocals live. It was more like a live session album; it was recorded very well, but not very much was added after the live [taping]. I guess the most fun and important aspect of our music at that time was just the energy – the naïve, wild and crazy joy,” says Sunswept.
On their latest album, Alien Ocean, released September 30th, the band took a different approach to the recording process in order to produce a more cleanly polished record. Instead of recording live, Sunswept and Spiller experimented with multi-layered tracks, and a wider variety of instruments.
“For Alien Ocean, I was kind of getting the hang of the recording process myself […] this album we recorded ourselves, and had it mixed in Brooklyn. Since I had more experience with overdubs and…widening the sound, I was able to use some bass, and add some organ. My artistic sensibility is to leave it simple. Every time I go to write a song, I want to cut it down to the very bare bones, so on this album, I was pushing myself to explore a few things, like synthesizers and lap steel guitars,” says Sunswept.
Such a musical evolution is most clearly emphasized in the album’s first track “Out of the Blue,” which Sunswept identifies as his favorite song on the record. Using influences of electronic and psychedelic music while still staying true to the West Coast surfer vibe, “Out of the Blue” introduces the listener to the new Crushed Out.
“We gave it this big, nasty, early rock and roll-style riff and then we tried to experiment with changing tempos. Similar to what you’ll hear in electronic music, we had the drop at half-time […] I kind of like the idea of trying to make electronic music, but not with electronic instruments, and taking influence from the creative things that electronic music does, such as dropping the beat, or throwing in a different sound really quick,” says Sunswept.
Although an unquestionable transition was undergone in the recording process of Alien Ocean, the album bears a unique variety of lyric styles ranging from “Skinny Dippin’,” a feel-good West Coast party jam, to more serious songs such as “Cool Clear Water,” a piece inspired by the 1930’s songwriter Bob Nolan, which depicts a thirst-stricken man and his mule crawling through the desert. Sunswept used the idea of extreme thirst and struggle to paint his own musical picture of the modern-day desert crawl undergone by war refugees seeking entry to the United States.
“I was reading an article about people traveling up from South America trying to get into the States to escape violence from certain countries, and it was just such a crazy article. Women and children too, would have to cross these deserts, and some never made it. I get frustrated because it doesn’t seem like there’s any reasonable debate in this country, people take extreme points of view about what to do with war refugees,” says Sunswept.
Crushed Out will be touring the entire U.S this coming fall (dates below), and plan to go on a European tour in the spring of 2017.
1/29 Snug Harbor – Charlotte, NC
12/1 5 Walnut Wine Bar – Asheville, NC
12/2 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC
12/3 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
12/4 MilkBoy – Philadelphia, PA Tickets on sale now at
12/7 Jalopy Theatre and School of Music Brooklyn, NY
Sunswept is excited to see what is to come of Alien Ocean, and is extremely proud of his music’s recent transcendence: “In some ways I wish that Alien Ocean was our debut album because it’s our finest work ever, but it’s kind of nice to show the progression from the beginning until now, and it’s been really fun to finish this record, roll it out, and see people’s reactions to it. I think it’s the most musical, the most diverse, and the most focused of what we have created so far,” he says.
Follow on Twitter @CrushedOutMusic