Comprised of Brisbane, Australia-born and Houston, TX-based Andrew Bower (vocals, guitar), Bower’s Brisbane, Australia-born and based brother Sean Bower (bass), along with Dan McNaulty (drums), The Valery Trails are a Trans-Pacific trio that over the past couple of years have received national attention for a sound that owes a major debt to early 90s/120 Minutes-era MTV rock, as previously released singles have managed to channel the likes of R.E.M., The Church, The Psychedelic Furs and others.
Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve actually written about them; however, the Trans-Pacific trio’s forthcoming album Chameleon Bones is slated for an August 5, 2016 release and the new album was recorded in a similar fashion to their two previous releases — with Andrew Bower recording demos in his home studio in Houston, then sending along his demos to bandmates Sean Bower and Dan McNaulty, who would then track bass and drums before returning the files to Andrew, who would then record guitars and vocals in a local commercial studio. As you can imagine, each song went back and forth to Brisbane for final overdubs, which created a variety of issues in the recording process. And as Andrew Bower explains in press notes, “The major obstacle, or more of a disadvantage, really, is that we don’t get the benefit of everyone being in the room together to agree on decisions that come up during recording.” Sean, Dan and the recording engineer had to commit to bass and drums sounds and arrangements without Andrew being able to weigh in — and without having a budget to re-record if he didn’t like it either. However, interestingly enough, this process also helps a band avoid the temptation of overanalyzing and obsessing to death over a minor issue at the expense of the overall freshness of the songs.
Chameleon Bones‘ first single “OK” is comprised of an anthemic hook paired with a jangling alt country/alt rock sound — in other words, slightly fuzzy guitars fed through subtle effects pedals, thunderous and propulsive drumming along with a throbbing bass line in a song that sounds as though it was channeling Big Star, The Smithereens, Murmur-era R.E.M., Dinosaur, Jr., The Church and others, complete with a radio-friendly, arena rock friendly air. But what distinguishes The Valery Trails from those familiar sources is that this particular single also manages to channel shoegazer rock and 90s Brit Pop in a way that puts a subtle new twist on a beloved sound.