New Audio: The Jangling 80s-Inspired Guitar Pop of Los Angeles’ Smokescreens

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Rosi (rhythm guitar, vocals)  and Corey Cunningham (lead guitar, keys), along with newest members Jenny Moffett (bass) and Brice Bradley (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock outfit Smokescreens can trace their origins to when its founding duo initially met and became friends while touring in their previous bands — the critically applauded Plateaus and Terry Malts — back in 2011. By 2015 Rosi and Cunningham relocated to Los Angeles to start Smokescreens, an act that they’ve described as a love letter to the 1980s New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records scene.  As the story goes, after cutting their teeth playing in bars and bowling alleys across Southern California, Rosi and Cunningham recruited engineer/drummer Jon Green to help them put their shambling love letters to Kiwi guitar pop on tape.

Initially released through Cunningham’s Parked in Hell Records and re-issued by Spanish indie label Meritorio Records, the Los Angeles-based indie rock band’s self-titled, full-length debut was recorded in a disused dairy factory and was mixed in mono. After Jon Greene’s death, the band decided to continue onward, recruiting their newest members Brice Bradley and Jenny Moffif, which enabled Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keys. As a newly constituted quartet, the band spent time tirelessly working, nurturing and refining their sound and writing batches of songs before eventually heading to Primitive Ears Studio to track the ten songs that would eventually comprise their sophomore effort Used to Yesterday in rapid-fire fashion. Armed with tapes from the sessions, the members of the band brought them to The Allah-lahs‘ Kyle Malarky, who created a final mix that reportedly captures the band’s rhythmic drive and melodic verve. Unsurprisingly, the band’s sophomore effort continues the band’s longtime obsession with 80s, New Zealand guitar pop — but while expanding upon it, incorporating some new influences, including Messthetics-era DIY pop; in fact, the album’s latest single “Someone New” is a jangling and breakneck, propulsive bit of guitar pop with razor sharp hooks  that sounds as though it could have been quietly and quickly released in 1982, and was discovered by a collector in a random used record bin.

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