Hailing from Italy's most indie-rich college town, the Bologna-based sextet A Classic Education makes warm indie-pop that is homespun but precise, combining a ‘50s Spector pop influence with Malkmus-tinged vocals in a way that miraculously sounds sprightly, timeless, and fresh-- not tired. Woods drummer Jarvis Taveniere was surprised when the band tapped him, from over 5,000 miles away, for time at his home studio, Rear House, but the pairing was perfect. Recorded in Brooklyn last October, A Classic Education’s debut album Call it Blazing sounds quintessentially home-fi, fitting in well alongside Rear House recording alums like Widowspeak and Real Estate. Blazing leans more heavily than those bands on the catchy, up-tempo verses of its frontman Jonathan Clancy, encompassing a full spectrum of styles-- from sweet dance-pop ("Baby It's Fine") to Afro-tinged pop ("Billy's Gang Dream") and dreamy waltz ("Night Owl"). --Jenn Pelly, Altered Zones
Call It Blazing comes out October 25th from Lefse Records
[Woods' Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earl at Rear House, Brooklyn, NY]
By Jenn Pelly
It would be almost impossible to find 229 Bushwick Avenue if it weren't for the flashy, neon awning of the bodega next door. Past the front entrance of this non-descript, East Williamsburg tenement building and down a narrow, paint-chipped hall, a back door opens to a hidden courtyard littered with dirty snow and garbage bags, a ragged couch, a broken stove. Seven paces further, up a cement staircase, is Rear House, home to the recording studio Woods drummer Jarvis Taveniere started in 2007. A "Recorded at Rear House" label has since become a seal of quality for fans of ramshackle indie pop à la Woodsist and Captured Tracks.
It's a Monday evening in early January; outside Rear House, the air is strangely silent. No telling if the doorbell works; nothing about Rear House looks like it's been updated since 1970. Inside, the Vivian Girls/Woods garage-pop collaboration The Babies is tracking handclaps, finishing up a B-side for a 7" on L.A. label Teenage Teardrops. Their debut full-length, also recorded at Rear House last year, drops February 8th on Shrimper.
Up on the second floor, down a dark, tapestry-clad hall, Jarvis mans the board in his tiny production room: an 8 x 8-foot glorified closet that used to be his bedroom. He sits at his desk, within arm's reach of the tape machine to his left, a collection of 33 1/3 books on a tiny bookshelf to his right, and the '60s lipstick-red Farfisa organ behind him (an eBay gem). Nearby, Woods/Babies guitarist Kevin Morby, who sleeps in the bedroom next door, picks at an acoustic guitar.
Bologna's A Classic Education stopped by Philly's Weathervane Music last fall to participate in the studio's Shaking Through series, a collaboration with WXPN that offers up-and-coming independent artists the chance to record a song of their choice in a high-end recording studio over a period of two days. Brooklyn blog Pixelhorse, which curated the session, just dropped the lovely "Night Owl" from the sky.
In the world of A Classic Education the sun sets late and rises early on their own personal island oasis. The brightness of their wonderful songs is hard to contain on any terrestrial plane. Things really get wild when Visions of Trees show up to the party to redraw everything as if they were Peter Chung and set up a dancefloor made from sleek bamboo. I'm over here just sliding back and forth to the one-two shuffle and clapping my hands having a gay old time. Over the glowing sonic ecstasy that pours from the combination of ACE and Visions I can faintly hear the yelled proclamations of "This is so much fun!" and "Watch out for that palm tree!" Catch the original version of ACE's "I Lost Time" over at soundcloud. (Get Off The Coast co-premiere)
Hey There Stranger is available now on CD with a 12" LP drop (w/ exclusive b-side remixes) coming in February via Lefse