guitarist Mike Crooker and singer-keyboardist Christopher Foldi have known each for about 10 years and have collaborated together on a variety of projects over that time. Crooker works on film soundtracks and would often need Foldi to sing demo vocals. They wanted to start a proper band but they could just never get their schedules to sync up. "We developed a good songwriting relationship," Crooker explains. After collaborating on the single “Cascade” about two years ago, the guys formed a band with singer Michelle Strong, drummer Rob Crossley and bassist Andrew Wilco. It released an EP and then played its first live show in 2013. It will release its terrific new album, Swell
, next week and is slated to play a CD release party with K.I.N.D. at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Mahall’s.
The band’s perky electro-pop recalls the better synthesizer-based music of the '80s (think Depeche Mode or the Pet Shop Boys) and the new album sounds particularly sharp. “The studio is just me and a laptop,” says Crooker. “While it was indeed recorded and mixed on a laptop, I used to run a recording studio, so there's my collection of vintage microphones, guitars and keyboards sprinkled throughout. We have always had a DIY approach. We shoot our own videos and do our own remixes.” Local mixmaster Adam Boose then put the finishing touch on it. “He was that last step in the puzzle,” says Crooker. “I sent it to him and it was like listening to a new record. He sprinkled that magic fairy dust on it. We spent a lot time working to make it pop.” The band has 16 more songs in various stages of completion for the next project. “We wanted it to keep it to 12 songs and then we tacked on a remix,” says Crooker. “We knocked them out pretty quick. We had enough time to work on it and added things that will reward someone listening to it for the fourth or fifth time. There are strings in ‘Take Flight' hiding underneath the electric piano and fretless bass in ‘After the Rain.’”