April 17, 2014

FIRST THINGS FIRST: MODERN RIVALS

Modern Rivals_L to R_Erick Lee, Mickey Novak, Alex Schiff and Alex Raderman.jpeg

On his first day at Washington University in St. Louis back in 2005, Erick Lee clearly remembers crossing paths with future bandmate Mickey Novak.

“We met right when I walked into my freshmen dorm for the first time,” adds Lee. “I was just bringing stuff inside, and he was literally bringing his guitar and amp up the stairs.”

Their initial band name was so terrible, according to Lee, that he won’t utter it now. After Lee and Novak wrote their first song, “Aphasia,” around 2007, the two guitarists subsequently recruited other musicians — among them keyboardist Alex Schiff, Lee’s childhood friend — and settled on a different moniker.

These days, they’re known as Modern Rivals, and the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band is about to release its atmospheric, ambitious and absorbing debut album, Cemetery Dares (highlights include “Angel Bones” and “A Shade Hesitating”). Lee and Schiff recently checked in to discuss some significant music firsts, both individual and shared.

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April 10, 2014

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

Jake Smith selects a starting lineup from his White Buffalo catalog

The White Buffalo_Myriam Santos.jpg

There was a time in Jake Smith’s life when spring’s arrival marked another season on the baseball field. This spring, however, just so happens to coincide with his latest tour.

Circa the mid-1990s, right around the same time he was attending St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, Calif., on a baseball scholarship, Smith got his first guitar. It was a Fender acoustic he picked up at a pawn shop for about $150, and that acquisition essentially started him on the path to becoming the singer-songwriter-guitarist known as The White Buffalo.

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April 03, 2014

IN GOOD SHAPE

Beth Thornley resumes recording career with Septagon

Beth Thornley_photo by Heidi Ross.jpg

The recording was finished — all that needed to be done was the mixing and mastering. Instead, singer-songwriter Beth Thornley decided to shelve the EP she’d made in 2011.

Looking back on that project three years later, Thornley says she “just couldn’t put five or six songs out that I just felt were almost there.”

“One of the songs I felt was strong enough, but I couldn’t figure out the right way to record it,” she adds. “There was another song I absolutely loved but I never felt like lyrically I nailed the chorus. There was another song that I really liked but it didn’t fit. I hate to use this word, but it was kind of ‘jazzy’ in a way that I’m a little afraid of because I don’t deal with that genre at all.”

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