A Great Big Pile of Leaves

A Great Big Pile of Leaves

Brooklyn, NY-based trio, A Great Big Pile of Leaves got their start in 2007 when guitarist/singer Peter Weiland and drummer Tyler Soucy took time from their prior projects to start writing material of their own. The first six songs came together as the self-released EP The Fiery Works, which the duo put out as a free download on their Web site. As word spread online, the band’s fanbase grew along with Weiland and Soucy’s
excitement to get back to recording.

Continuing with the formula of self-producing, The Fiery Works II followed shortly afterward and was also released as a free download. Within the next year, the digital releases were downloaded over 12,000 times and the group prepared for a live setting with the addition of Tucker Yaro on bass. After playing several shows and writing a batch of new songs over the next few months, the newfound trio prepared themselves to record a full-length record Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?

“Hidden Driver,” the opening track of LVL UP’s third album and Sub Pop debut Return to Love, never stops moving. What starts with unassuming guitars and vocals adds new lines, depths, and intensity, until its unrestrained, triumphant finish. “God is peeking, softly speaking,” repeats the chorus, working through the relationship between spirituality and creative inspiration, and introducing a band that is always pushing further.

LVL UP – guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, bassist Nick Corbo, and drummer Greg Rutkin – is a true collaboration, a band that takes the stylistically distinct ideas of four members and brings them together into something new. Caridi, Benton, and Corbo write and sing equally, bringing their work to the group to be fully realized, resulting in an album built on different perspectives but a common drive.

“We have very different inspirations across the board,” says Benton, noting his own admiration for the writer and documentarian Astra Taylor, Corbo’s interest in the mystical and the occult, and Caridi’s attention to personal storytelling. The music itself grows from a shared melodic and experimental sensibility, as well as a nod to iconic influences like Neutral Milk Hotel and Mount Eerie. But each songwriter has a different vision every step of the way, and there isn’t always alignment–it shouldn’t make sense, but in the end it does.

LVL UP was formed in 2011 at SUNY Purchase as a recording project between Caridi, Benton, and their friend Ben Smith, with the original intention of releasing a split cassette with Corbo’s then-solo material. They instead released that album, Space Brothers, as one band, and Rutkin joined shortly afterwards for the group’s first show. Smith left the band for personal reasons just before the release of second album Hoodwink’d, a joint release on Caridi and Benton’s label Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound. DDW also put out records from other artists in the tight-knit community that launched the band.

“There’s not really a town associated with the school, so there’s no bar or club that you could go play in easily,” says Corbo. “But there was a student center on campus that was all student run. That was a great place to play, and also take care of a lot of practical issues like a place to put your stuff and a place to practice weekly. It was almost like an incubator situation for us and a lot of other bands – it gave us a little bit of experience and confidence, so it wasn’t as scary when we decided to go on tour for the first time.”

Also part of that university community was Return to Love’s producer Mike Ditrio, who mixed LVL UP’s previous records and “was basically a fifth member of the band,” says Corbo. “He played a huge role in developing the sound, without butting in too much. He also navigated our personal dynamic really nicely.”

That sound is marked by reverb, harmony and tape distortion, with a keen balance of pop and experimentation. From the fast yet flowing lines of “Blur” to the all-consuming wall of guitar in “The Closing Door,” each song pushes and pulls in compelling, unexpected ways. There’s deliberation as well as spontaneity – the latter developed with the help of a song-a-day project, which pushed Caridi and Corbo to write and record full songs in a single day. Some of that material, including “Naked in the River with the Creator,” made it onto the album.

“I ultimately made this half-drone, half-really loud guitar song, because it was an idea I had floating around in my head but never got around to doing until I had to write a song in a day,” says Corbo. “The thing that pulled me through was grasping onto words and images, but instead of pulling from an infinite sea of all the images that you could pull from, it’s easier to constrict yourself a little bit.”

A Paper Tugboat

A Paper Tugboat is an indie rock band from Connecticut. Their sound has been compared to the all-American rock’n’roll of Wilco and Delta Spirit, the quirky 90s-tinged work of Pavement, and the emotional gravity of Pedro The Lion. A Paper Tugboat has shared the stage with such artists as The Low Anthem, River City Extension, Kevin Devine, Dear and the Headlights, Cotton Jones, The Stepkids, and Bear Hands among others. This summer Tugboat will begin work on their fifth album, Horse Farm, while continuing to make a name for themselves across the northeast.

Langosta

Hailing from South Windsor and Manchester, Connecticut, Langosta began in 2008 when bassist Stew Henderson and guitarist Matt Donovan began writing music together in the Henderson basement. Some of these first melodies would later evolve into songs on the Langosta Super Nature EP. After jamming with several different drummers over the next couple years, they added drummer Zack Abramo to the mix in 2010. From there, the trio began fleshing out the earlier melodies into full-length songs. With the addition of Gabe Sciarra on guitar in summer 2012, the band was complete and began playing live shows across Connecticut and Massachusetts under the name Super Nature while continuing to write and record the songs for their EP. Changing their name to Langosta, they released their first EP, the Super Nature EP, in March 2013. The 4-track EP represents the quintessential roots of Langosta’s music. Drawing on a heavy range of influences, Langosta attempts to weave together intricate melodies while keeping up the high energy that drives their music and performance. With a fan base that’s constantly growing, Langosta will continue to play shows in and around the area in the coming months, while working to record a full-length album to be released later this year.

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