still just a trio, the band caught the attention of PSB Records
A&R guy Chris Nilsson while playing a gig at the infamous West
Hollywood club The Roxy Theater. It was Nilsson who put the band
in contact with LeMaster.
"Chris knew him,
and we all were fans of Now It's Overhead," Zwick said. "So
we moved to Athens for six months and recorded at Andy's studio
when he was in town between Bright Eyes and Now It's Overhead tours."
LeMaster's deft, almost
ethereal production touches can be heard all over the band's debut,
released in May by PSB, as well as his vocals, guitars, keyboard
and other weird noises added after the sessions were over.
"We basically played
our songs for Andy live, then he reworked them and made suggestions,"
Zwick said of the sessions. "We trusted and respected him,
and he added a bunch of cool sounds and layers. What he did for
our album is more important than what he brings with his name."
The band's sound is classic
indie-rock influenced by bands as diverse as Desaparecidos, The Replacement
and LeMaster's own Now It's Overhead. The combined effect is a high-flying
rattle and hum, a grinding bash of crackling, chiming college pop
songs mostly about love and longing and feeling out of place.
Burnside's voice is a
crusty blend of Oberst and Westerberg, right down to slight cringe
that closes every phrase.
shines through quieter, more resonant songs like "Living in
My Skin" and "Let Me Down," that sport the same rat-a-tat
drum that earmarks a number of songs from Now It's Overhead's debut.
Grinding pseudo punkers like "Far Away" and "Let
Me Down" have plenty of Desa overhang, minus the political
aftertaste, while "Dead Flowers," with its line "I
think I'll pour another one / 'Til it don't matter anymore"
has the same lost-generation melancholy as The Replacements' "Here
Comes a Regular" or "Unsatisfied."
Zwick acknowledges that
hooking up with LeMaster had benefits beyond the studio. "It
does make it a little easier because people know his work. It gives
us a little bit more credibility and the CD more of a chance of
Since its release, the
CD peaked at No. 127 on the College Music Journal charts,
Zwick said. Not bad for a debut by an unknown band on a tiny West
Coast record label. Zwick credits almost constant touring for sales.
"This is our third tour since we released the CD," he
said, "and we plan to do another one that will lead up the
CMJ conference in late October."
Published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader Sept. 3,
2003. Copyright © 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
moved to Athens for six months and recorded at Andy's studio
when he was in town between Bright Eyes and Now It's Overhead