On Integrating Vintage Vibes into Modern Recordings
Gianni Napolitano is a young songwriter and indie pop bandleader from New York City. His group, The Pine Hollows, recently released their first full-length LP, Something My Heart Understands, embarked on their first tour and dropped their first official music video. All these firsts before his 21st birthday – not bad, eh? We recently spoke with Napolitano about his songcraft, the band’s use of vintage gear and retro studio tricks, and the challenges of being a DIY artist in today’s market.
What was your pre-production like on this project?
This record was very different for us; we’re all technophiles, so we decided to pull out of the big studio zeitgeist and do some mobile DIY audio engineering in weird places.
So the pre- was probably the most difficult part to intellectualize. We did the entirety of the record in Pro Tools, so all the standard pre-pro stuff had to be done on the computer (the track planning, plug-ins, session building and all that), and we’d map out a method for recording each instrument in odd ways. Continue reading →
GENRE: Experimental Pop HOMETOWN: Boston, MA ARTISTIC APPROACH: To teach an advanced pop crash course. www.prettyandnice.com
Digesting all of the idiosyncrasies that define Pretty & Nice would be quite the challenge. Their quippy nature is surprisingly charming – the members in the band are even more so. And the fact that they’ve been so modest about all of their hard work makes the news that they’ve signed to Rory Records, an imprint of Equal Vision, that much more satisfying. The boys got sweaty on 2008’s Get Young, a debut album that was more than just rattling guitar and irrefutable hooks – it was downright sprawling, untamable, and sheer fun. Being handpicked by Say Anything frontman Max Bemis for Rory Records would seemingly have an inherent amount of pressure attached to it, but Roger Lussier possesses a different point of view on the matter. Continue reading →
GENRE: Psychedelic Motown Surf HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA ARTISTIC APPROACH: Fraternal collaboration and musical experimentation. www.blackapplesmusic.com
Campbell and Andrew Scarborough – singers, songwriters, guitarists, and brothers – have literally spent a lifetime together as musicians and collaborators. The brothers’ musical roots are planted firmly in their childhood home. Their father toured as a guitar player during the ’60s, playing surf rock as well as the music of Motown and the British Invasion. Campbell and Andrew recognize their father as a major influence on their commitment to music and the sound of The Black Apples, which they like to call “Psychedelic Motown Surf.” Their mother also worked in the industry and both parents set the boys on a musical path early on; they’ve been playing together ever since. “My whole family plays” says Campbell, “I don’t know anything different.” Continue reading →
Seattle’s Sandrider is a gnarly, loud and ferocious trio of veteran musicians, hell-bent on destroying eardrums and bass drums in equal numbers. The band is about to re-release their self-titled LP on 180 gram wax, courtesy of Good To Die Records, and we had a chance to catch up with frontman Jon Weisnewski about the group’s back story, their favorite gear, and their creative process both in and out of the studio.
Can you give us a brief rundown of how the band formed and where you’re at today?
I’d been playing in the band Akimbo with Nat, our drummer, for about 15 years. I originally learned to play music on the guitar, but switched to bass in Akimbo. And I had a real desire to play guitar again, and to play with other musicians. So I asked Nat if he wanted to start playing some songs, and we wrote some music and had some other bass players come in and fool around. Never really got a serious bass player for a while, until I was getting tattooed by Jesse, Sandrider’s bass player, and we started shooting the shit. He played in a band I liked a lot, and they were in the middle of a hiatus at the time. So I told him he should come down and play bass with us.
That first practice was just out of this world. It was great; we had an amazing chemistry together.
The Purrs Rotting On The Vine (Single)
“Seattle’s Answer to Britpop and Drugged-Out Psychedelia”
The Purrs’ latest vinyl single blasts out a triumphant blend of psychedelic garage rock and Britpop, replete with swirling fuzz guitars and Stone Roses-esque vocal harmonies. There’s a certain looseness to the track, which when listened to through headphones, really makes things sound “alive.” If only more rock bands recorded like this, perhaps we wouldn’t have to endure a never-ending parade of Beyoncé clones on the radio. At times, “Rotting On The Vine” may sound a little tooStone Roses, but in an era of lip-synced, Auto-Tuned musical diarrhea, is that such a bad thing?
The B-Side, “You, The Medicine And Me,” enters the fray with a more surreal, atmospheric wash of droning guitars and female background vocals. Continue reading →
Golden Bloom No Day Like Today
(The Sleepy West)
“Amiable array of dazzling indie vocals & lush sounds”
Beautifully orchestrated, Golden Bloom delivers a lovely EP, No Day Like Today, with charisma and gleeful personality. Songs like the opener “Flying Mountain” deliver radiant sunshine to one’s day, filled with upbeat vocals, chiming guitars and lots of reverb and sustain.
The percussion is riveting and counteracts delightfully with the bass parts. This quartet from the Northeast did a wonderful job putting much creative effort and brainpower into these five songs.
“Deliver It For Me” contains rich pianos, and “Shadow of a Man” is dazzling and happy-go-lucky, complete with the eerie charm of early Strokes and Shins. Continue reading →
Foxygen We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
West Lake Village, CA
“Warped, psychedelic ode to the ’60s and ’70s”
More psychedelic and focused than the duo’s first album, Take The Kids Off Broadway, Foxygen’s second full-length effort presents nine trippy, upbeat tunes in a brisk 37 minutes.
A classic-sounding psychedelic vibe is certainly the primary focus throughout the album. With its breezy interspersing of horns, opening track “In The Darkness” takes one back to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper era. Allusions to the distorted 13th Floor Elevators’ sound can be heard sonically on “Bowling Trophies,” and vocally on the title track. The vocals recall Mick Jagger, as singer Sam France occasionally yelps and screams his way through some of the album’s more experimental numbers.
Foxygen balances out referencing grandmothers losing limbs in the war and discussing Jesus in Israel with witty lines in the fourth track, aptly named “San Francisco.” As France explains that he left his heart in San Francisco, two female singers reply with, “That’s okay, I was bored anyway,” and later humorously add, “I was bored anyway.”
Luckily, being bored won’t be a result of this album, as Foxygen delivers a concise, catchy record psychedelic enough for indie music lovers, but accessible enough for more than a select few.
Spencer Pope The Dark, The Light
Spencer Pope’s The Light The Dark is an introspective, instrumental album featuring Pope on piano backed by guitar, bass, drums and horns. If you’re thinking jazz, think again. Certainly, Pope draws influences from the genre. The one solo piano track on the album, “The Last Beautiful Thing,” is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett’s solo improvisations. The overall feel of the album–ominous, passionate, and full of existential angst–might remind a jazz fan of Taylor Eigsti, The Esbjörn Svensson Trio or The Bad Plus. Continue reading →