by Ziggy Merritt
Having received considerable coverage from the likes of BrooklynVegan, Pitchfork, and NPR, the trio of sunshine pop connoisseurs known as the Courtneys have enjoyed an upswell of success that comes on the heels of their lauded sophomore effort II. The string of undeniably infectious singles that album produced (“Tour”,”Minnesota”, and “Silver Velvet”) only solidify their uncanny ability to structure hooks that almost force you to pay attention to them. Bassist Sydney Koke was able to give some insight into that process as well as the album as a whole while on their current North American tour with like-minded artist, Jay Som.
“I think the trick is to try to find the simplest way to contrast different musical components in an unexpected way,” says Koke on the topic of creating a great hook. “We spend a lot of time structuring the songs so that they have an element of suspense and don’t feel too repetitive. One of my favorite strategies is to look for mistakes that we make when we are just jamming in the early stages of the song, because mistakes can sound amazing and take the part of the song in an unexpected direction.”
That same DIY aesthetic that places emphasis on improvisation and experimentation has stuck with them since their start in 2012 as well as their self-titled debut which produced its own acclaim with the inspirational, lo-fi jam “90210.” The four years separating both full-length albums allowed them ample time to grow and expand on their sound, resulting in an LP filled with rambunctious attitude and adrenaline. The first track off of II, “Silver Velvet” neatly encapsulates the appeal with Koke offering a few words on its creation.
“As with most of our songs, we started by jamming out the basic structure, and then making recordings so that Jen [Twynn Payne] could go home and work on the vocals. Similarly, as with most of our songs, it’s about a crush.”
Crushes, heartbreak, and touring often figure prominently in their lyrics as deceptively simple components that accentuate a sound difficult to box into any one genre. Elements of ’90s punk, shoegaze, and fuzzy garage rock all float around. But Koke’s own insightful terming of their sound as “artisanal grunge” works just fine. “We think it describes us well,” she adds.
Sydney Koke and the rest of the Courtneys are excited to stop by Boot and Saddle this Friday, March 31st, alongside Jay Som who is touring with their own recent release Everybody Works. “We ended up touring with Jay Som by chance and are so glad, because they are the coolest people,” says Koke with a final word on the tour.
Before the show, check out their video for “Silver Velvet” below.