Smallpools with Great Good Fine OK
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The story of Smallpools is mostly a series of happy coincidences. Vocalist Sean Scanlon and guitarist Mike Kamerman met at SXSW in 2007 while both of them were playing in different bands. After forging a friendship based on a mutual love of music and a shared frustration of not seeing their respective bands actually take off, the two eventually decided to join forces and, ultimately, leave the East Coast behind. Moving to LA in 2011 (“We threw all of our stuff in a van and drove cross country from New Jersey,” says Kamerman), both musicians had no solid plan other than to try and make music and not starve to death in the process. “It just seemed like eventually something would have to happen,” recalls vocalist Sean Scanlon. As luck would have it, eventually something did. After randomly crossing paths with bassist and recent Portland transplant Joe Intile (who, in turn, would randomly cross paths with drummer Beau Kuther, himself recently uprooted from Portland and dropped in Los Angeles for work), the newly assembled band booked some studio time in Atlanta to bang out three songs that would ultimately serve as a template for their burgeoning sound, a first in a series of happy surprises for the band.
Recorded with up-and-coming LA production team Captain Cuts, the tracks on the self-titled EP nicely encapsulate the kind of kaleidoscopic rock/pop explosion Smallpools is all about. “Dreaming” is a potent statement of intent—a propulsive synthsplosion that blends stadium-sized hooks with Scanlon’s euphoric vocals. When he sings the song’s titular lyric—”Please God tell me we’re dreaming!”—It’s easy to imagine a million summertime sing-alongs happening in unison. Elsewhere tracks like “Mason Jar” and “Over and Over” have the kind of guitar lines and buoyant choruses that would make any lover of classic FM radio exceedingly happy. Given that all four bandmembers are seasoned musicians, the pristine pop of Smallpools music is no accident. The airtight songs dip and soar at all the right moments thanks to the no bullshit indie-pop hooks that seem to be embedded in their DNA.
Right now things are moving quickly for Smallpools. After “Dreaming” was unleashed on the Internet, the band was happily shocked to see the song shoot to #1 on Hype Machine and rack up over 100k in streams (and a small avalanche of blog attention) less than seven days after the song was released. Just eight months after they first experimented with making music together, the foursome behind Smallpools found themselves signing a major record deal with RCA, abandoning their day jobs and preparing to hit the road—the novelty of which is not lost on any of them. It’s the kind of fantasy career trajectory that musicians often dream about but seldom get to experience, but according to the band, Smallpools is still very much involved in the uphill climb. Despite the obvious struggles of being in a new band, much of Smallpools’ appeal seems to lie in the inherent optimism that seems to be the core of their songs.
Great Good Fine OK
Often the best pop songs happen spontaneously and on impulse. Like A Prayer was written in a day. Sia Furler wrote Rihanna’s Diamonds in just 14 minutes. Brooklyn’s rising synthpop stars Great Good Fine Ok, meanwhile, bumped into each other on the street late last year, decided to harness their intuitive creative spirits, and finished their first song together in one night. The resulting track, the epic ‘You’re The One For Me’ – and its memorable ‘sexy sandwich’ video of a girl getting inventive with her baguette fillings – triggered internet pandemonium and placed the duo firmly at the top of 2014’s New Artists To Watch lists. So remarkable was it that the song also swiped the #1 spot on Hype Machine twice in one month.
Singer/songwriter Jon Sandler and multi-instrumentalist/producer Luke Moellman haven’t looked back since. Their anthemic blend of dreamy electro flutters, R&B beats and lush, expansive pop, which has seen them compared to M83, Phoenix and Passion Pit, has caught the attention of Neon Gold, the tastemaking pop label that discovered has helped break Ellie Goulding, Icona Pop and Gotye. Live, meanwhile, Great Good Fine Ok have whipped up just as much frenzied excitement: their first gig in New York was in a sold-out venue of 300 people and weeks later, at South By Southwest, there were queues down the block for all of their six shows.
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Oct 20, 2018