Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Romano’

The kind of music Massage makes sunny, bittersweet, tender is less a proper genre than a minor zip code nested within guitar pop. Take a little “There She Goes” by the La’s, some “If You Need Someone” by the Field Mice; the honey-drizzled guitars from The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love”, a Jesus & Mary Chain backbeat, and you’re almost all the way there. Indie pop, jangle pop, power pop—whatever you call it, pushing too hard scares the spirit right out of this sweet, diffident music, and Massage have a touch so light the songs seem to form spontaneously, like wry smiles.

Still Life was more deliberate. Romano, Naidus, and Ferrer split their song writing duties, sending each other demos by email, an arrangement that grew permanent when quarantine hit. The songs brought out competition, even if Romano teases Naidus for denying it. “I own it. I love it,” he says. “When Alex sent me ‘Made of Moods,’ I was blown away. I thought it was the best thing he’d ever written. I got jealous, so I immediately wrote ‘In Gray & Blue.’”

The band recorded Still Life with Lewis Pesacov (Fool’s Gold, Foreign Born, Peel’d), testing and teasing out new sounds at his intimate backyard studio in Echo Park. Calling it “warm and tender guitar pop,” some of “the shoegazey sparkle and endearing moody charm of institutional indie pop spirits like Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & the Bunnymen and early R.E.M.” We hope you like what you hear, too.

Alex Naidus: Vocals, guitar
Andrew Romano: Vocals, guitar
Gabrielle Ferrer: Vocals, keyboards
David Rager: Bass
Natalie de Almeida: Drums

This is a co-release between Mt. St. Mtn., Tear Jerk and Bobo Integral Records.

Releases July 2nd, 2021

Former Pains of Being Pure at Heart bassist Alex Nadius leads Los Angeles band Massage whose debut album, Still Life, was produced by Jed Smith (My Teenage Stride) and will be out June 25th. Opening cut “Half a Feeling” has a definite Jesus & Mary Chain vibe to it.

The kind of music Massage makes — sunny, bittersweet, tender — is less a proper genre than a minor zip code nested within guitar pop. Take a little “There She Goes” by the La’s, some “If You Need Someone” by the Field Mice; the honey-drizzled guitars from The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love”, a Jesus & Mary Chain backbeat, and you’re almost all the way there. Indie pop, jangle pop, power pop—whatever you call it, pushing too hard scares the spirit right out of this sweet, diffident music, and Massage have a touch so light the songs seem to form spontaneously, like wry smiles.

Still, on their sophomore effort, Still Life, they manage to take a quantum leap forward in song writing, production, and depth, all somehow without seeming to try. These 12 deft songs are full of late-summer sunlight and deep shadows, pained grins and shared jokes, shy declarations of love and quietly nursed heartbreak. Still Life resurrects a brief, romantic moment in the late-’80s, right after post-punk and immediately before alt-rock, when it seemed like any scrappy indie band might stumble across a hit.

The result is the finest batch of songs they’ve ever produced. From Naidus’ velvet-lined JAMC tribute “Half A Feeling” to Ferrer’s Let It Be-era Replacements-tinged lament “The Double” to Romano’s “In Gray & Blue,” these are gold-standard indie-pop gems from emerging masters of the form. The lyrics are downcast, empathetic, and quiet, little sketched portraits of evanescent feelings. “I got half a feeling/you’re not the one who’s really alive,” Naidus sings on first single “Half A Feeling,” while overdriven guitar churns up dirt clouds and the do, do-do, POW drumbeat sends the song racing towards sunset. “At the end of the world/Where were you?” he wonders on “At the End or the World,” a simple, affecting plea for pure companionship and love as structures large and small crumble outside.

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Massage is:

Alex Naidus: Vocals, guitar
Andrew Romano: Vocals, guitar
Gabrielle Ferrer: Vocals, keyboards
David Rager: Bass
Natalie de Almeida: Drums

Releases June 25th, 2021

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Massage is five friends who live in Los Angeles. Massage is a band that meets up on Monday nights to bash out songs that crudely approximate their heroes, past and present. Massage is guitarist Alex Naidus, formerly of Pains of Being Pure at Heart, who moved to L.A. in the winter of 2013; furniture designer Michael Felix, who got Alex singing and writing songs when he said he wanted to learn the drums (they didn’t know any covers so they needed something to play together); their friend Andrew Romano, a journalist, who invited himself to their second practice (and now shares singing, songwriting and guitar duties); bassist David Rager, a designer and childhood friend of Michael’s, who tagged along that night, too; and visual artist Gabrielle Ferrer, Andrew’s sister-in-law, who was soon playing keyboards and singing harmonies.

These are two separate singles, but I fell so in love with both them, and I could not just mention one here. Massage could be your next favourite finds this year. They mention several fine influences, – The Go-Betweens, The Feelies, The Lemonheads, Twerps, bands from Sarah Records and Flying Nun Records. Instead of going too deep into their influences, like many indiepop bands sadly do, Massage do their own thing. They sound fresh, and although their inspiration is in the 80s and 90s, they sound very much 2018. Their guitarist Alex Naidus was once a member of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

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The second single from Massage’s debut LP Oh Boy, coming July 2018

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Part of what inspired us to start Massage was this new generation of Australian bands like Twerps and Boomgates and Dick Diver, who are ostensibly doing a very retrograde thing – I mean, they’re mostly white guys playing guitar rock – but somehow finding a sweet spot that Americans, who tend toward the muscular and melodramatic, always seem to miss: messier and more casual, but also catchier somehow. ‘Oh Boy’ is our California version of that ramshackle vibe. When I wrote it, I was listening to a lot of ’16 Lovers Lane”’-era Go-Betweens – ground zero for today’s Aussie scene – and I think their influence may have come through in all the droning chords and the domestic imagery. The last lines of the song were dummy lyrics that stuck. I realized what they were about – how honest they were about things I hadn’t even realized I was feeling; about family and fatherhood and settling down and ambition – and the rest of the words were written in response. Sometimes a song tells you what it wants to be.