The Last Names is a collaboration between Darbie Nowatka and Justin Rice (of Bishop Allen). After living in Brooklyn for ten years, the pair packed up and headed for the wilderness of upstate New York. They settled into a big old Victorian house, hauled their gear up two rickety flights of stairs, and spent months turning their attic into a ramshackle recording studio. Justin was planning to get to work on a new Bishop Allen record.
Inspired by their weird new surroundings -- the trails, cloves, and waterfalls of the "forever wild" Catskills, the tiny towns stuck in the amber of the 1960s, the ruins of forgotten resorts and abandoned factories -- the couple started writing songs together, songs that were unlike anything they'd written previously. They were dreamier, hazier, more shadowy, and Darbie sang lead on most of them. "It was clear we weren't making a Bishop Allen record," says Justin. "This was something new."
The result, Wilderness, tells the story of moving from the middle to the margins, and of living on an imagined frontier. "We started listening to all these great old records we were picking up at garage sales," says Darbie, "and they definitely informed our sound."
Combining mismatched organs, mellotron, open-tuned guitars, and tape delay with modern synths and MIDI, The Last Names managed to make a record that feels both eerily old and surprisingly new.
The songs range from the hushed intimacy of "The Blackest Night on Earth" to the open- hearted invitation of "Vacant Lot" to the lilting swagger of "Wilderness 2," which finds Justin playing Lee Hazlewood to Darbie's Nancy Sinatra. To handle drums and percussion, the pair enlisted frequent visitor and long-time collaborator Michael Tapper (of Yellow Ostrich and Bishop Allen). Michael rounded out the record, bringing a bossa nova feel to songs like "Holly Crown," cribbing from early Ray Charles for "The Dirt," and giving songs like "Dead Reckoning" an orchestral brooding.
Watch the promo video for the release here: http://youtu.be/Z1b8ScwXy5E
RIYL: Postmarks, Echo Lake, DIIV, Bishop Allen
TRY: #2, 3, 4, 8, 10
02 The Dirt by The Last Names
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