James Allen Spirit‘s 7 track self-titled debut album is set for release on Friday (6/24), but we’ve always got your back. So we’ve got the exclusive premiere available for your listening ears only.
The first track–“Sea The Current”–begins with guitar cords that take us back to the 70s, in all honesty, and the vocals that support the song seem to come from a similar era. One thing is for sure: these guys know how to harmonize. Their voices seem to float over the instrumentals, as they collectively croon, “Sink or swim but they’ll never see the water coming, Even with the clouds up above / They will sing out for salvation, It’s kind of funny what we call love.” There’s a heavenly aspect to the reverb in this song, and it could absolutely be seen in biblical context, as they sing about “the flood”.
“Morning Sun” comes at you light and airy, with the crow of a cock in the background. We can almost see cartoon characters stretching and yawning to this song. (Cartoons, right? You see that?) It’s another gorgeous track, and that cock sure knows how to crow. This third track–“Alamosa”–hits a little deeper with the instrumentals and the vocals. “Quiet down, your voice is way too loud” is a notable line, and we can see ourselves in Alamosa, Colorado, trying to avoid the echo of the flatlands while we sing Maria Von Trapp style. (Note: No telling now if the song was inspired by Alamosa, Colorado. We just really love Colorado.)
In direct contrast to James Allen Spirit’s urging you to “quiet down” in “Alamosa”, the following track is titled “Loudest Voice”. It starts with a guitar riff that’s slightly rougher than before, bringing the rock aspect of the band in. With almost a Muse-like quality to the vocals, this track is something you could make mistakes to. “The Star Of The Frat Party” comes in hard as well, but with lighter vocals. The idea behind it addresses troublemakers, though, so it’s duly noted that it follows another, more rough, track.
Don’t be fooled by harder tracks. On the sixth song James Allen Spirit goes back to a more flower power pop track, though they implore you, “Nothing has changed, I swear, I’m still the same.” (But did you read our minds?) The aforementioned lyrics almost foreshadow the next song, named after an item of clothing that is designed to change and mislead. “Corset” rounds out this seemingly perfect 7-track debut, with synth sounds for days. While the bass line sounds familiar if you speed it up, we can’t quite place it. We’ll chalk it up to a mix of great influence, as this band has now given us reason to believe they effortlessly cross genres and are talented beyond measure.
Lead singer Tyler Godfrey had insight into the album to share.
“This album, to me, is about finding another way, and letting the loudest voice in your head guide you to happiness, which is sort of vague, but if you listen to the lyrics it’s all there. There is never just one way to do a certain thing or to accomplish something. It’s kind of like your friend’s weird dad that you can’t ever tell if he’s joking or if he is serious. That is how we wanted to treat the recordings, as well. Dry beats over layers and layers of keys and guitars.”
We were lucky enough to pull lead singer Tyler Godfrey–who describes James Allen Spirit as a bunch of “easy going guys that love going to the beach on [their] school bus”–aside for a fast-hitting Q&A.
You recently relocated to LA. Where are you originally from? How do you think that has affected your sound and how you live your lives?
Yea, I met Dante and TK in Salt Lake City and Eric, our drummer was living in Echo Park where we live now, and we met through a mutual friend at our rehearsal space in LA. We all live together, so things can get pretty dodgy at times, but nothing will ever compare to us living in the windowless scum hive rehearsal space in SLC. It was heinous. I don’t think anything has changed from our relocation at all, if anything it’s made us work harder and really have an undying love for taco trucks.
How did you all meet, and how did James Allen Spirit come to be?
It started in the summer of 2012 while I was recording demos at my deceased grandparents’ ranch, just writing trippy pop songs, but after a while I started thinking more and more I wasn’t alone in the house. So that’s when I wrote the first JAS song “Alamosa.” I wanted it to sound translucent to the listener, just like I was seeing and hearing stuff but wasn’t fully able to depict what was really there. During this time I was reading “As a man Thinketh” by James Allen, a British philosopher and that’s where the name comes from. But I didn’t meet Dante and TK till the album was already recorded with Pyfer, about a year later.
So yeah, you worked with Nate Pyfer. That’s amazing. What was that like?
He’s a kook! I love Nate so much, he’s just incredibly talented with a great ear and vision for each song. Nate has been there since the beginning of this, and will probably have his hand in some future stuff.
We’re diggin’ the vintage sound to your self-titled debut EP. What made you choose to go with this particular sound and style?
Umm, I don’t know, I guess it just came very naturally. I’m not saying it was easy, it’s just sort of approachable from all angles to listeners. That’s the stuff I really like to listen to myself, but when we were recording it was like, “alright let’s make this guitar part a keyboard or vice verse,” and it turned out pretty cool.
How would you describe that sound, by the way?
I’d say it leans more to psych pop.
“Morning Sun” is such a crisp, intentional song. How do you imagine people listening to it?
I haven’t really thought about that, I would imagine listeners taking in the synth stabs and melody with a smile. It’s a spoof song about living fast, so the song has this catchiness to it with a snarky melody.
If you created a music video for “Loudest Voice”, what would it look like?
Like a Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, slow and spacey.
What inspires your music?
My inspiration comes from all sorts of things, personal happenings and feelings, to others, reading books, watching Sci Fi movies.
If you could tour with anyone—living or deceased—who would it be, and why?
Neil Diamond on his Bang Years album, Neil Diamond is a complete legend.
The James Allen Spirit EP is out June 24. Expect a full-length record and supporting tour by the end of the year.