For fans of: Vacationer, Miike Snow, The Bee Gees 1st, The Weeknd.
On his new release as Astronauts, etc., Anthony Ferraro (perhaps temporarily but oh-so delightfully) trades in his play-all-the-instruments-yourself/bedroom-pop producer’s hat for the organic feel of musicians playing live together in a room. The results make a significantly smoother sound – blending influences to create a mellow mid-70’s AM radio record with a modern flare, synthesizers and all.
Listening to “I Know” gives me the sense that Anthony likes The Commodores just as much as Bon Iver: sunny melodies sung with heartfelt soul, and yes, just a hint of cheese.
“I Know” is our first glimpse of Astronauts etc.’s shift from one-man-band to five-man-band. In stark contrast to their previous work which incorporates heavy electronic drum beats and a spacier minimalist atmosphere, “I Know” was recorded with a four-piece group directly to tape at Tiny Telephone Studios. And the results of this feel tangible, like a stew or something. It just oozes warmth.
The performers on “I Know” are a few members of the Bay Area’s thriving local music scene. Derek Barber (of Bells Atlas and Perhapsy) provides a clean guitar solo that is both serene and unexpectedly zigzaggy. Aaron Gold‘s (Seek Selekta) drumming serves the song exceptionally well, and his switch to the ride cymbal for the pre-chorus is just right – man, it gets me every time. Scott Brown (of Waterstrider) plays a subtle and complex low end part that reveals itself as an wonderfully melodic soulful bassline with repeated listens. And it is the recording and mixing of James Riotto, also a musician himself, that blends the whole thing together. Combined with Bob Weston‘s top-quality mastering, James makes this track sound like it is coming out of an warm tube amplifier even as it leaves my shitty laptop speakers.
Among such excellent company, Anthony’s falsetto vocals, layered piano, synth parts sound more at home than ever, nestled comfortably in this intricate performance. And he wrote a great pop song; it’s catchy and sweet with a wonderful outro that makes me wish the song just would never end.
“I Know” sets Ferraro apart from the countless home producers that make sad-guy-sentimental-electronic-R&B-flavored-indie-whateveryouwanttocallit. Astronauts etc.’s sound has evolved into that of a full-blown ensemble. It’s rich, coordinated, and light as air.
And I can’t wait to hear the whole album.
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