Amor Amezcua and Estrella Sanchez grew up across the border from San Diego, in a small beach community in Tijuana. When they met in high school, they immediately bonded over a shared fondness for British and American indie rock music, although they didn’t have easy access to it.
When Amezcua began work on a solo project, she asked Sanchez to contribute keyboards to a track. Shortly after, the two decided to form Mint Field, creating an echoing shoegaze-inspired sound with reverb-heavy guitar and airy vocals. In the roughly three years since, they’ve released Mint Field’s 2015 debut EP, Primeras Salidas, and released their first album, Pasar De Las Luces, via Innovative Leisure on February 23. Before the start of their US and UK tour, we talked with the band about their influences, growing sonically, and the departure from their self-taught, DIY background into their first professional recordings and a lengthy US tour.
AdHoc: How did you all meet?
Amor Amezcua: We met about three years ago, when we were in high school. We lived in a really small town by the beach, where pretty much everybody knows each other. We realized that we had very similar music tastes, and we started talking a lot after that. I was working on a project, and I asked Estrella, “Maybe you should do keyboards in this song.” It didn’t really work out, but she wanted to make a band, with more instruments and stuff. I had a drum set in my house and she was playing guitar. Ever since then, we’ve [played music together]. Now, almost every day, we rehearse and write songs.
What kind of music did you initially bond over?
Amor: At that time, we listened to garage rock, indie, and alternative music. And where we live, there’s not [a lot of] people that listen to that type of music. It was special to us. It’s hard to think of specific bands, but we bonded over music.
Jackson MacIntosh’s musical trajectory has been a seemingly haphazard one. The Montreal-based musician, who also works as the bassist in TOPS, picked up that instrument “opportunistically” so that he could go on tour with a friend. In addition to playing bass, MacIntosh worked as a producer with Homeshake, producing records on a DIY, trial and error basis. While recording with Homeshake, he admits that he would desperately Google manuals for instruments and recording processes.
Despite the musician’s professed lack of organizational skills and focus, his first record, My Dark Side, is polished nonetheless. It’s whimsical and bittersweet, with reverb-heavy guitar, chilling harmonies, and winding bass lines. MacIntosh adopts classic rock motifs as a conduit for themes of listlessness and falling out of love. My Dark Side is out now via Sinderlyn Records. You can catch Jackson MacIntosh at Union Pool on March 23.
How did the idea to produce your own solo album come about?
I suppose the first time I really thought about it was when I was out… I think I was out drinking with Dave [Carriere] and Jane [Penny] from TOPS. We were talking about album titles. You know, sometimes you’ll talk about the fictional title of your future autobiography or something? It was that kind of thing; we were just joking around. And for some reason, I thought it was really funny, the idea of having the title of my solo album be My Dark Side.
And I’ve always written songs and made demos and stuff on my own. And I have another band called Sheer Agony, and there were just some songs that didn’t really work for that project. I had demos, and I was like, “Why don’t I just do it? I can play all these instruments. Why not actually just try and put them out?”
I had this vague idea for a record called My Dark Side. And over the course of two years, [I] just chipped away at it. It was something I didn’t really expect to come to fruition. I finished a set of songs for a new Sheer Agony record that hasn’t come out yet, and realized I had a whole other record’s worth of songs. So I sent them off to the people at Captured Tracks, and they said, “Great, let’s do it!” So it’s been this nice, semi-accidental, serendipitous thing up to this point.
What inspired My Dark Side?
I was pretty influenced by this Momus record, Timelord. I don’t know if [the album] is sonically influenced by it that much, but it’s this very...it’s so clever to the point where it’s almost annoying. As much as I like a lot of [Nick Currie’s] stuff, he’s also a real strange individual. [But] that record is this kind of sad, break up record. In a way, he’s being less clever on that one. Because you really just sit down, you hit a note on the piano, and it kind of wanders along in its own way. That influenced the record in a funny, indirect way.
A lot has changed for Lindsey Jordan since she played her first show in 2015, assembling an ad hoc crew to open for Priests and Sheer Mag at a festival. Snail Mail’s jangly, introspective sound—layered with the Ellicot City, Maryland native’s carefully constructed lyrics—belies the band’s spontaneous origins. In a little under three years, they’ve released an EP on Priest’s Sister Polygon label, toured the United States, and signed to a major indie—all while Lindsey was finishing up high school. Ahead of Snail Mail’s debut studio album, which is due out on Matador this summer, she spoke to us about being a feminist musician, balancing schoolwork with touring, and growing up.
What inspired you to start playing music?
I don't know—it's just a hobby. I started playing guitar when I was five, and I didn't start writing songs until I was 12 or 13. I recorded an EP on Apple Garageband a really long time ago that's not on the internet anymore, and I formed a live band to play this one show—just for fun. Then we recorded the EP, Habit, because we had some friends that were willing to help us with it. Originally, our goal was to do these five or six songs, or whatever. I mean, I never really intended for it to go well, you know?
What's the scene like in Baltimore? Was there any particular show or band or space that was really inspiring to you?
I hung out a lot at Black Cat in DC. I saw a lot of punk bands there, and I feel like that world was pretty encouraging as far as starting your own band. I don't know about now, but there are a lot of really great record stores in Baltimore. Celebrated Summer in Hampden is where I discovered a lot of the punk music I really love now.
DC is a really big place for punk. It's a really big creative hub, with a lot of DIY spaces, and there are a lot of young people doing awesome stuff. I have some friends who play in punk bands in Baltimore. I think [Baltimore has] got a culture of people who work really hard and think outside the box.
Australian indie outfit Big White’s “How Did You Find Out” is a humorous ode to the 80s complete with thick-framed glasses, awkward mullets, and mom jeans. The video’s grainy, VHS aesthetics are a perfect pair with the upbeat, synth-driven, New Wave-inspired track.
The band got their start after they were spotted by Burger Records scouts at a pub in Sydney. Following their debut album On + On, the band went on a nine-week tour across their native Australia, Europe, and North America. Their newest video, ”How Do You Find Out,” reflects the band’s DIY ethos. Using inexpensive materials and the help of their friends, Big White explores themes of misconception and failure.
"Our approach to everything is to do it yourself. With a little help from friends along the way, we tend to take things into our own hands,” Big White’s Jack T. Wotton tells AdHoc over email. “We are playing with the idea that it doesn't matter what you say, it's what you do. There's no truth in stories, and that's all the more reason to tell them."
Growing up, Anna McClellan says she believed the only path to happiness was through external validation and a highly idealized version of romantic love. After a particularly difficult break up, McClellan drove from her hometown of Omaha to Los Angeles, hoping to gain some perspective. From Los Angeles, she drove to the Southeast, and then decided to move to New York City, where she lives now. After spending hours alone on the road, McClellan realized that in order to truly find contentedness, she needed to discover self-acceptance.
McClellan’s recently released second record, Yes and No, is a product of that journey. The album's booming vocals, laid-back guitar riffs, and winding piano melodies reflect the artist's growth and autonomy. On "Flailing Orbits," McClellan triumpantly sings, "For the first time in a while, I'm not dying to see your smile/ I don't mind if our stars twinkling never intermingle again." Speaking with AdHoc over the phone, she describes the record as a “circle,” a representation of the closure she discovered while recording. Although her journey to New York is over and the record is out, McClellan’s not stopping anytime soon. To McClellan, a circle is endless. “It also never stops; it keeps going,” she says.
AdHoc: How do New York and Omaha compare to one another?
Anna McClellan: I moved once [before], back in 2015. That was the first time I moved to New York. And that time, it was a lot harder [to move]. I think the hardest part [about New York] for me is the physical way that it affected my body to be in the two different places. New York is really exhausting in that way—just trying to get around everywhere. In Omaha, you drive and it takes five minutes to get anywhere that you need to go. But [in New York], there is just so much time spent commuting. I found that really hard to adjust to. It added a lot of tension in my body.
Wharf Cat Records has teamed up with over 20 artists, including Palberta, Alice Cohen, and Profligate, to raise funds for the American Civil Liberties Union. The multigenre record, ACLU Benefit Compilation, is the brainchild of Wharf Cat Record’s Michelle Nigro, and is a result of the donated time and efforts of an expansive network of musicians, engineers, and manufacturers. For every $32 double LP, a minimum of $30 will go to the non-profit organization.
The Happy Fits create fun-loving and upbeat indie rock that makes even the worst scenarios—like antagonizing high school bullies-—a little bit more tolerable. The Pittstown, New Jersey-based group, which comprises Calvin Langman on vocals and cello, Ross Monteith on guitar, and Luke Davis on drums, formed in 2016 with the purpose of fundraising for local charities. Afterwards, they released a four song EP, Awfully Apeelin’. A week after the EP’s release, their single “While You Fade Away” reached #5 on Spotify’s Top 50 Viral Global Chart. The band is now gearing up for the release of their debut album Concentrate, released in partnership with Pledge Music, out on May 25th.
Will Taylor and Charlie Martin met through mutual friends in the Austin music scene in 2014. They clicked automatically, sharing a fondness for the lo-fi sonics of home recordings and a common background in percussion. Soon after, they began recording no-frills, dreamy bedroom-pop on their iPhones, and released their first EP and cassette, ep, in December 2014.
Though they both grew up in Dallas, the band cites Austin—with its slow pace, expansive living spaces, and supportive community—as an inspiration. The hushed, fuzzy sounds on Cranberry, their second album, emit a feeling of intimate familiarity, the feeling of being at home.
Cranberry is out February 9 via Double Double Whammy. Ahead of their sold out album release show at Baby’s All Right tonight February 16, we talked with the band about recording on iPhones, taking up new instruments, and wanting to become a “shredder.”
AdHoc: How did Hovvdy begin?
Will Taylor: We met through mutual friends playing music in Austin. We hadn’t met until midway through 2014, and when we did, we decided that we’d meet up and hang out, and pretty quickly we shared songs that we had been working on at that time. We aligned stylistically and recorded some songs together. From there, continuing it felt like the right thing to do. It’s fun still.
San Francisco's The Family Crest is not your run-of-the-mill indie rock band. With seven core musicians, and several hundred "Extended Family" members who have contributed to their music, the group likes to take the unconventional route in their music-making. Take, for example, their new video for “Never Gonna Stop,” a track from their forthcoming The War: Act I. Stitching together over ten comedic sketches, which range from a parody of The Joy of Painting to a reenactment of Godzilla, it encapsulates the ridiculousness of daytime television.
Liam McCormck, founder, as well as vocals and lead guitar, of The Family Crest, told via email AdHoc that making the video was a "very DIY process," with the band collectively creating "about 25 different individual stations." "It took a lot of production creativity, from figuring out convertible rentals to digging through our closets for costumes," he wrote. "We had a lot of fun with it. It put many of us out of our comfort zones, which is always a good thing in the end." McCormick says that his overall goal for the video was to convey feeling "of someone flipping through channels on TV, seemingly endlessly, with all of us playing out various tableaux."
"It all started in on a 1AM phone call, as things usually do, where Liam told me that Laura had an amazing idea of putting John in a leotard and having him teach a workout class, '80s style," the video's director, Keith Lancaster, told AdHoc. "John is basically the designated cartoon character of the bunch. We thought it would be even better to make something as if you’re flipping through channels on the TV, and he is the main character in everything that pops up. But then we got the rest of the band involved, and it became something way more collaborative and fun. I’m still kind of surprised that we pulled it off in such a short amount of time and it [came] out nearly identical to how it was in my head. It’s really fun to see the personalities of everybody shine through."