Remember that friend you had in high school who always knew about the latest, coolest music before you did? You know, the guy (or girl) who had an older brother whose college roommate had an uncle whose sister worked in the convenience store next to the studio where the Human League was recording its next record?
Well, Steal This Track is kind of like that buddy. Each Tuesday, we bring you a fresh track from a hot Colorado band, and let you download it — free of both charge and guilt. In many cases, we get our hands on songs before anyone else has had the chance to hear them, and pass that coolness on to you. Such is the case with this week’s track — a teaser from the upcoming debut full-length album from the Still City.
The Still City traces its roots back to a high school band in Monument, Colo., but its most recent incarnation — with Brian Knab on vocals and guitars, Ryan Murphy on guitars and keys, Jeff Wiencrot on bass and keys, and Brandon Roth on drums — has created a stunning, 11-track collection that goes far beyond anything the group has done before. Balancing pop songwriting chops and production with an indie rock authenticity, “We Will Explain Everything” recalls some of the best work by the Cure, Death Cab for Cutie and Matt Pond PA, without ever seeming derivative or unoriginal.
“We wanted to write something that’s melodic and that we’re proud of,” explains Murphy. “I think we admire people who can write music the people will sing along to, but we’re also ambitious enough to get past that.”
“I think the whole ‘trying to be indie’ thing always fails,” Knab continues. “And trying to be pop fails too. I just write songs and they come out the way they do. I’ve tried to write other songs, but they always come out as my songs.”
The Still City begins its songwriting process with Knab’s skeleton of a song. Roth then gives the tune a beat and a structure, to which Wiencrot and Murphy then add their artistic touches. The resulting product might end up sounding completely unlike the original idea, but it retains Knab’s core ideas, and everyone in the band’s current lineup is happy with this controlled-yet-collaborative process, which is very different from what the outfit for its last EP, 2008’s “Light and the Machines.”
In addition to allowing Knab to set the primary artistic direction for the album, the Still City also worked out all for the songs in Wiencrot’s basement, next to the DU campus. This helped the outfit enter the studio with a much clearer idea of where the song needed to end up. “We gave ourselves the opportunity to work on the songs, write every harmony and every keyboard part,” Murphy explains. “And when we hated the parts,” Wiencrot adds, “we had the time to rewrite them.”
Once the songs had been fleshed out and recorded in the band’s studio in Wiencrot’s basement, they went to Andrew Vastola at Rocky Mountain Recorders to
record mix and master them. More than just an engineer, Vastola was able to put finishing touches on songs and to pare the album down for the greatest impact. “He was able to cut the things that sucked,” Murphy says with a laugh. “And he brought an overall cohesiveness to the record,” adds Roth. “He made it sound like an album.”
That album will be released on Saturday, Jan. 23, at the hi-dive, with Boulder’s Drums and Guns and Denver newcomers Churchill opening. However, since you’re cool enough to know someone who knows someone who knows someone, you’ll get to hear a track from the album before anyone else. Just click one of the links below to stream or steal “Against Each Other’s Teeth,” one of our favorite tracks from “We Will Explain Everything.” Then bop on down to the hi-dive on Saturday at 10 p.m., drop your $5 at the door and settle in for a fantastic show of local live music.
The Still City | Against Each Other’s Teeth (right-click to save to your computer)
If you’re a band or musician ready to unleash some fresh sounds on the readers of Reverb, email your tracks to Eryc Eyl for consideration.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track every Tuesday for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout every Friday.