Perhaps best known as the lead guitarist of the British indie rock band Howling Bells, Joel Stein, an Australian-born, British-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter decided that after four successful albums with the band and a series of world tours with the likes of The Killers and others, that it was time to pursue his own solo work with his recording project Glassmaps .
Stein’s Glassmaps debut, Strangely Addicted was recorded and produced by Stein in the Las Vegas, NV-based home studio of The Killers’ Mark Stoermer, where Joel was staying while recording with Howling Bells. And while staying with Stoermer, Stein found a soundproofed room filled with random instruments — tubular bells, a double bass, a three-stringed banjo, vintage guitars and an old Telefunken microphone on which he recorded vocals. And the end result was material that finds Stein, employing both electronic and organic instrumentation on punchy, hook-driven material that’s nods at 60s psych pop and psych rock and 70s AM radio rock while thematically the songs draw on his personal experiences while focusing on universal themes — love, loss, life, etc. Interestingly enough, the album features guest spots by The Killers’ Mark Stoermer, who plays bass on album single “Summer Rain,” and Howling Bells’ Glenn Moule, who contributes drumming throughout the entire album. “I took my laptop into that soundproofed room and didn’t really sleep for two weeks,” Joel recalls. “I would wake Glenn in the early hours of the morning to drum on tracks I had just finished. He’d sleepwalk his way to the kit and just nail it every time!”
“Hypnotised” is breezy symphonic pop with multi-part harmonies that nods at Sgt. Pepper-era The Beatles and ELO with soaring hook that quickly throws a trippy curveball as the song suddenly turns into a hazy psychedelia with an impressive guitar solo but while being clearly under-pinned by an old-timey vibe, the song possesses a swooning romanticism; after all, the song is about a beguiling woman, who seemingly casts a spell on the song’s narrator. But along with that, the song reveals some rather ambitious songwriting. “The sonic inspiration varies from classical music to 70’s music,” Stein explains. “I was adamant in making a very organic record, I missed the sound of guitars, especially guitar solos.”