Line Out Music & the City at Night

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sound Check: Augustines' Ever-Mobile Brawn and Rapture

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

  • Angel Ceballos

A t the end of their Rise Ye Sunken Ships touring run, the now-Seattle-based Augustines (previously We Are Augustines and Pela) had become a bit burnt from being constantly mobile, constantly up and down from performing, and constantly away from their Brooklyn home base. Billy McCarthy (vocals, guitar), Eric Sanderson (bass, keyboards), and Rob Allen (drums) had been touring nonstop for two and a half years. But instead of holing up somewhere to rest and settle the dust for a change, McCarthy did the opposite—traveling had been so imprinted into his blood, he couldn't break from it. So to recharge, he visited Kenya, Turkey, Mexico, and Alaska, eventually returning to the Applegate, California, elementary school where he first learned an instrument. There, while being observed by students and teachers, he worked on the Augustines' latest, self-titled album, out February 4 on Votiv/Oxcart Records. McCarthy's voice is immediately identifiable. There's brawn and rapture to it that pours out over the builds of the band's unfeigned rock and roll. The songs have a sense of triumph and fruition, while at the same time knowing heartache. When he was a teenager, McCarthy lost his mother to suicide. He took care of his schizophrenic brother, but his brother became homeless while battling drug addiction and eventually ended up in solitary confinement in prison, where he took his own life. In November 2012, Augustines convened at a converted 19th-century country church in Geneseo, New York, for a month to work on new material. Then they headed to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to record with coproducer Peter Katis (the National, Interpol, Jónsi) at his Tarquin Studios. McCarthy spoke from Sea-Tac Airport just before getting on a plane to the UK.

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