With their EP release show tonight, I knew I had to meet with the members of the Photonicas to see exactly what kind of musical surprises they were about to set free upon us. This is alot of anticipation on my part from a band who reminds me their first show was a Battle of the Bands at the Hoover Public Library. However, in this rare case, I’m actually not afraid to say that the band has, seriously, come a long way since Jonathan Boyd and Matt Mullinax first hatched a plan to start a band in the 5th grade with Ryan Grayson. Now that they’ve enlisted Matt’s 16 year old brother David on bass, the energy is electric and the sound indeed seems fitting of an older, shoegazier, 90s-er (I said it) band. All very good things.
For one thing, they hooked up with vocalist and guitarist Wes McDonald to record in the Vulture Whale practice space slash studio after playing what was quite possibly the ruralest of all shows ever in Cleveland, Alabama. This has provided for some of the best drifty, atmospheric, southern sullen music I have heard in a long time. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to the newer songs on the EP, so I can have a Photonicas-accompanying soundtrack to just about anything I do throughout my day.
Also, another great thing I heard from these guys is that they’re involved with Small Invasion Touring with Nathan Barrett to book out of town shows so the Photonicas and other Birmingham bands can go region wide.
The band recorded nine songs for the EP (over the tiny span of 6 days, no less) and according to the Photonicas’ vocalist/guitarist Ryan, the first few songs are “old familiars” for just about everyone who has seen them perform live before. “Not bad at all, it’s just we’re already so in the habit of playing those, you know?” says guitarist Jonathan who also fronts band vox. All of the guys agree that the “focus is much more clear now” with the advent of the new release, the Birmingham band is oft compared to (oh, and if you miss this show after hearing these, there’s no hope for you) Explosions in the Sky, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Band of Horses, good Modest Mouse, Guided By Voices, The Zombies and Pinback. Also, for all you Jim James (My Morning Jacket) fans around town, there is a pleasant surprise waiting for you when you first start to decipher the seemingly familiar sound of the Photonicas‘ vocals.
Speaking of which, the Photonicas are playing the NOISE! show at Greencup Books on Wednesday and then Speakeasy next Friday. Pictures from all of these shows (including tonight’s) just might make their way onto Timetable, so follow my posts later next week for some visual and aural delights.