As a big fan of the sadly defunct local band Late Nite Drivers, I was excited when I heard two of its principal members, Billy Swayne and Heather Redman, were working together again in Neo American Pioneers.
That reunion of sonic soulmates turned out better than I could’ve hoped with the stunning new vinyl album, “Beginning to Unfold,” being released at Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton on Saturday, Aug. 18.
While Neo American Pioneer’s 2013 debut, “Big Wide Open Blue,” was essentially a Swayne solo album, “Beginning to Unfold,” is the work of a full band in top form. The group, Swayne (vocals, guitar), Redman (vocals), Dan Spaugy (lead guitar), Paul Monnin (keyboards), Ian Goudie (bass) and Daniel Chord (drums), recorded the material to analog tape at Reel Love Recording Company in Dayton with audio engineer Patrick Himes. The result is a hook-heavy mix of Midwestern Americana and spiky indie-pop tailor-made for repeated spins on the old turntable.
Swayne, Spaugy and Chord recently discussed the making of “Beginning to Unfold.”
Swayne: “Recording on tape, it felt like pressing it to vinyl was meant to be but the whole process of doing that is different. A CD is a little piece of plastic but a record is a big piece of art. It feels more real releasing it, maybe because it cost so much more.”
Chord: “I’m not into vinyl but I couldn’t believe when I heard the difference in the test pressing of this album and the mixes I was listening to on CD in my car.”
Swayne: “This was the first time any of us had worked with Patrick, but it was amazing. His setup is great. He’s a great musician and he plays so many instruments so he understands recording and playing. His gear is great and his knowledge of everything is great. He also had some good ideas for different little things.”
Chord: “We got to use some peculiar little instruments Patrick had that helped give this record a real feeling. Every sound we created is so rich.”
Spaugy: “Every band’s work that I’ve heard come out of that studio sounds wonderful. Patrick is very good at taking each individual band’s style and tailoring the studio experience to them and bringing out the best of them.”
Swayne: “I can’t believe how big everything sounds on the record but we did a lot of double- and triple-tracking. These songs are kind of poppy and pretty catchy and they have this sonic wall of sound that really captures the energy of our live show.”