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.
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.
Chuck Johnson is a Bay Area-based guitarist who has built up an impressive body of solo work over the last decade, moving from one quality label to the next: Three Lobed, Scissor Tail, Trouble In Mind. Refining and re-defining his approach to the guitar with each subsequent release culminated in last year’s Basalms. Showcasing Johnson’s mastery of the pedal steel, the record is a sustained work of soothing deep listening.
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."
Philly natives (and Eagles fans) Dark Blue are gearing up for their next seven-inch release, out February 23rd on 12XU. The A-side, “Fight to Love," feels like a dark cloud after a drought, a much-needed cleansing. Over a steady beat and melodic fuzz, Singer and guitarist John Sharkey narrates a tricky love/hate relationship with a gentrifying Philadelphia. Toward the end, the underlying wash of guitars gives way to a beautiful acoustic rendition of the tune, picking back up and reiterating the song's central message: “You shouldn’t have come here.”
“Philadelphia is a great city but it’s being overrun by developers with tax abatements and snobs from the outer suburbs," Sharkey told AdHoc via email. "This song is a direct response to all the muppets who move from what might as well be Iowa and complain when we have a parade for the city’s most beloved sports team because their kids (I mean dogs) won’t be able to get to get to yoga. GO BIRDS!” This reflection on their hometown's current state is an apropos look at the way the things we love change as they grow and morph. Even as our homes begin to change and our old haunts disappear, we still have a love for where we came from.
Boston’s folk-rock band Bad History Month is back with A Platitude and a Final Understanding a new song off of their forthcoming album Dead And Loving It: An Introductory Exploration Of Pessimysticism out November 3rd on Exploding In Sound. Platitude is a methodical and plodding track, a slow burner far from boring. It moves in slow, heavy steps through a train of thought as thick as the wettest snow of early November. A Platitude is an isolating walk for singer and main songwriter Sean Bean, filled with personal regret, doubt and introspection. The song shapes a sparse musical biome of electric guitars and slow drums lead by Bean’s vocals, weaving a quiet, but impactful sound that prove he is losing, but isn’t lost.
Bean, who is notoriously private, often changing his name in order to avoid the attention that his music brings, puts the listener in between his ears. He is searching to find something new within himself. At the climax of the track there is a moment of clarity signaled by an organ and piano where, Bean recognizes both his gratefulness to the world around him, and his greater desire to help himself because there are “more than enough fuck ups.” As the moment of clarity passes, he feels himself sliding back into old ways of the song, recognizing a cyclical nature of growth and regression. There are two voices here in unison, speaking towards a final result of synergy and creation. Through the sense of failure and self loathing there really isn’t a failure, there is a song. There is a clarity that is crystalized through the repetition of making music that is both cathartic for the artist and listener. Bad History Month opens for Pile at Market Hotel on 12/9.
Transcontinental outfit Strobe Talbot released a few records in the early oughts, glitteringly honest stream-of-consciousness pop records with Half Japanese’s Jad Fair in the front. Straddling the globe, with Mick Hobbs (also of Half Japanese, as well as Officer!) based in London and percussionist Benb Gallaher in Portugal, the group has convened sporadically since their formation in 1999, drawn together by friendship and a pure love of creation and release. In their early records the trio cultivated a loose sound, with Fair’s optimistic ramblings gliding over sometimes straightforward, often surreal jams. Fifteen years after the release of their third full-length Let’s Born To Rock!, Strobe Talbot are offering Funland, aptly named: its 18 songs are transportive and enthusiastic, charting the sweetness and surreality of living in this world and being in love. Mixed by John Dieterich of Deerhoof, Funland marries the band’s familiar jangly post-punk instrumentation with stranger outpourings of sound—like human howling in the opening track to accompany the earnest declaration, “Good fine love is my intention!” Fair has a way of taking cliches and intoning them with sincerity, and here he stretches each to its limit convincingly.
In addition to being an instruction manual of sorts for anyone looking to relearn the feeling of being in love, Funland lets this strange and exciting feeling rub up against the equally strange and exciting feeling of being surrounded by monsters. Mid-record, the ominous untethered clang of bells and machinery underlies Strobe Talbot's introduction of "the evil of the monster" ("what it does is bad"), but the songs that follow are woozy love anthems and a manic free jazz ode to the heart. When Fair shouts, "This is ours, and our hearts are strong! A new day today and always," over rolling drums and the sweet twang of guitars, it's life-affirming, and the album ends in hoots and hollers and genuine laughter. Through the sprawl and blare of all these songs oozes a feeling of true belief in the supernatural power of love, a belief that seems only to have strengthened for Strobe Talbot after decades of collaboration.
Funland is out October 20 on Moone Records, featuring a hologram of Jad Fair's paper cut artwork etched into the vinyl itself. You can stream the album in full below.
Nashville’s Sun Seeker make languid, woozy psychedelia with a country bent: ideal for a carefree, sun-soaked day. Their sound is heavily indebted to the city they call home, but ahead of their October 11 show at Union Pool, the group–Alex Benick, Asher Horton, Ben Parks, and Rodrigo Avendano–shared a few of their favorite songs from New York.
I listen to this song everyday when I lay out poolside, thinking back on homecoming dances and smoking weed for the first time. I don't think that's what this song is about but it makes me feel good.
Television - "Days"
Sun Seeker has covered this song a bunch of times. Television was probably one of the first rock bands I got into in middle school. Television and Lil Wayne.
Crumb - "Vinta"
I just got into Crumb in the last few months and you definitely should too. That's all that needs to be said.
Asher Horton (bass):
Lou Reed - "Dirty Blvd"
Quintessential New Yawkness! He had a pretty wild solo career but throughout each of his phases remained very "Lou". New York and The Bells are probably the two records I come back to the most.
Arthur Russell - "Love Is Overtaking Me"
A truly individual and inspired artist. He’s one of the rare musicians who managed to jump between most conceivable styles of music and do each one just as great as the last. His documentary “Wild Combination” is definitely worth searching out.
The 6ths - "Falling Out of Love (With You)"
I first heard this song in The Adventures of Pete and Pete! That show turned me on to so much great music. The 6ths were a side project of the Magnetic Fields’ Stephen Merritt where he made the music and then got different singers for every song, which turned out to be a successful experiment in my book. This particular song features Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 and Luna as well as some memorable lyrics about dwindling love and building synthesizers or something?
Ben Parks (drums):
Steely Dan - "Any Major Dude"
A true banger. RIP Walter Becker.
Margaret Glaspy - "No Matter Who"
I love the way this whole record sounds. Everything is super punchy but blends so well together, especially on this track. Great musicianship all around.
Paul Simon - "Run That Body Down"
This is a track off Paul Simon's first solo effort which is a favorite of mine. Featuring the great Hal Blaine on drums. Super breezy.
Rodrigo Avendano (keyboards):
Since I was young I've always had a distant fascination with life in New York City. One that largely lived in my imagination since what I knew about it was largely informed by television, magazines and history books. I now get to visit the city a few times a year, mostly on music related pursuits, so my experience with NYC is still a fairly supercifial one.
Madonna - "Vogue"
East coast version of Chicago house by the queen of NYC.
The Strokes - "Hard to Explain"
My first teenage wonderment of melancholy in the bib city.
ESG - "UFO"
Music from the Bronx that won't stop giving inspiration everywhere. One of the most sampled songs in history.