New Music Preview: Lonely Mountain Lovers

At a nondescript studio space in the bowels of industrial SoDo, Lonely Mountain Lovers are hard at work recording new tracks with producer Rick Hoag. Kitschy articles litter the studio, from a giant panther tapestry to parrot-printed string lights, against a backdrop of industrial plywood and heavy felt and foam. It’s hot, and cords trail an endless web through the space.

We’ve caught the band running through bits and pieces of songs, each in a carved-out bit of space, as Hoag makes plans through their headphones. We catch one-ended conversation about whether there’s enough room on the tape to run through the entire track from front to back again. The beats from drummer, Chris Gordon, come in heavy and hard, cymbals crashing. After another run-through, guitarist Austen Bustad pokes his head out of a solo booth in the back, “try to give it a breath at the very end before you make any noise.” They run through again and then voice to Hoag, “You’re gonna flip it out and just tape it together? Scotch tape? Splice? Safety scissors?” Humor intact.

Everyone files into the booth to listen to the results. And they sound damn good. Bluesy guitar riffs, more straight-up rock and roll than earlier material that felt at home in alt-country Americana. While the harmonies of lead guitarist Zachary Warnes and vocalist Mariaugh Maestas will be re-recorded later, their foundations are sweet hushes that roar into thundering instrumentation.

Hoag mans the board, and a hush falls over the group, intention on each of their faces. “Dude I like that fuzzy guitar in the background,” says Warnes, as they discuss the specs of the amps and other various equipment as it populates the tape. They run through several variations, weighing in as to what’s working where. “That one’s more fucked up than the others but I kind of like it,” says Hoag.

In the studio to work on two new tracks this weekend, LML are getting a handful ready to release on a new EP in the fall. One track, currently running at 8 ½-minutes long, requires special attention. They joke about having made it more radio-friendly from its original 10-minute length. The band takes a break, Warnes and Gordon run out for Rainier cans and a gallon of orange juice. Brass monkeys are made, and bassist Jeremy Summer grabs for the dregs of yesterday’s box of wine. Jokes are made about the Capri-Sun of alcoholic beverages, but not to worry, he upgrades to a bottle as they head back into the booth.

Bustad takes a minute to rearrange his pedals, as the group runs through the next track. The deep, classic-rock edge sounds buzzy and soulful. There’s still a twang there, but it’s tempered by roaring guitars. The band feeds off each other’s energy, a cohesive whole. As Maestas rolls a cold beer can over her forehead, they kick it up a notch and run the tape. For a relatively young band, LML seem hard-wired to aim for perfection. As they ruminate on single off notes, there’s discussion about whether it sounds better that way or not. Only time will tell if they leave it in. But either way, it’ll probably sound solid.

In the meantime, check out their self-titled debut album here: iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud

And catch them live July 21, 2016 at Central Saloon.

Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Sunny Martini

Lonely Mountain Lovers in Studio