Beginning as a love letter to the Flying Nun Scene of the 1980’s, Smokecreens came together when Chris Rosi and Corey Cunningham struck up a friendship while touring together in their bands Plateaus and Terry Malts in 2011.In 2015, both had relocated to Los Angeles and started the band with Rosi on Bass and Cunningham on guitar. After finding their feet by playing a succession of bars and bowling alleys in Southern California, drummer and engineer Jon Greene was recruited to assist get their sound committed to tape. Recorded in a disused dairy factory and mixed in mono, their self-titled debut came out on Cunningham’s label Parked In Hell in February of 2017 and was reissued by Spain’s Meritorio Records later that summer.
After the unfortunate passing of Jon Greene, the duo re-grouped with drummer Brice Bradley and recruited bassist Jenny Moffett, enabling Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keyboards. After studiously honing their sound and penning consignments of songs with resolute commitment, they holed up in North Hollywood’s Primitive Ears studio to record the 10 tracks that make up album Used To Yesterday to be released July 13th. The resulting tapes were mastered by Kyle Mullarky (The Allah-lahs) whose mix captures the bands drive and melody. Used To Yesterday continues Smokescreen’s zeal for New Zealand pop but also incorporates influences from the more melodic side of Messthetics-era DIY pop and expands into classic indie pop territory, a natural fit for the group’s new label Slumberland Records. First single The Lost Song perfectly encapsulates where the band is coming from on this new record; literally a lost demo from the group’s earliest days, it is here given a NZ-meets-Athens GA arrangement, galloping along at an urgent clip and packed with guitars that strum and jangle in magical unison.
Where Smokescreens really excel is in the quality of their songwriting and the ability to incorporate a disparate set of influences while still forging their own sound and identity. The song Used To Yesterday is classic power-pop, riding a chunky three chord riff and leavened by a bright, clanging lead. Elsewhere we find nods to The Velvet Underground on Fool Me, The Clean on Someone New and SF’s beloved The Aislers Set on Waiting For Summer. Smokescreens are such skilled writers and keen students of sound that their cover of the über-obscure NZ band Wasp Factory’s Steel Blue Skies fits in seamlessly. Album closer Falling Down could be a lost single from LA’s paisley underground and definitely leaves the listener itching to hear where the band goes next. Album Used To Yesterday is released July 13th and be pre-ordered here.