Exclusive Premiere: Stream War Party's New Album.
Fort Worth garage quintet War Party has always been a pretty prolific outfit. Just take a quick look at the guys' BandCamp page and you'll see a pretty deep collection of singles, demos and splits in addition to more fully-realized efforts that flow just as freely. After releasing its first full-length in December 2013, the band released a trio of two-song EPs followed in 2015. And, come Friday, War Party will release its second full-length, an album called To Love and Fear It.
These days, more than ever, the band can afford to keep up its pace in the studio, at least. In recent years, frontman Cameron Smith's Lo-Life Recordings has partnered with fellow Fort Worth label Dreamy Soundz to create the Dreamy Life umbrella. Together, that partnership was responsible for a handful of the best local releases of 2015, including records from Andy Pickett, Vincent Neil Emerson and Jake Paleshic. In addition to both labels, that collective also runs a small record store and its own recording studio. And not long after their new Cloudland Recording Studio opened its doors last year, War Party began making itself at home, writing, rehearsing and recording all in the same space.
“We started experimenting with space and even silence more as a result of being in a place where we can hear each other so clearly,” Smith says. “It's much different than cramming five guys into a tiny rehearsal space where sound is just bouncing off the walls and everything is phasing or blowing out your ears. Even just being able to hear vocal melodies makes a big fucking difference when writing. That sounds silly but, coming from a punk background, it was something we ignored for a while.”
Without the normal time constraints that come with renting out somebody else's studio by the hour or day, the band was able to take its time and really find itself this time around, with To Love and Fear It settling into a new territory that leaves most of the band's long established “don't-wop” sound behind.
“I think of it as somewhat of a departure from the more derivative things we had done early on and a step into a different direction,” Smith says. “It feels like we're really carving out a voice for ourselves with this one. I've noticed the album is coincidentally littered with all of these notions of duality; a lot of the lyrics have to do with grappling with the adult world and about disassociation with identity within that world. And yet, musically, I think it's actually building an association and an identity out of a sound or a body of work.”
Meaning, the band's nine newest tracks lean more Stooges and less Hunx & His Punx. Working once again with longtime producer Britt Robisheaux, the band treads new ground thanks, in part, to the addition of multi-instrumentalist Christopher Walden on keys and trombone full-time, with his presence really helping beef up big horn-driven tracks like “To Be Young Again.”
“I love that doo-wop sound, but after 'Teenager on Drugs,' I felt like I could take a bit of a break from it,” Smith says. “Then again, 'Happiness is A Warm Dress' still has hints of that 'don't-wop' thing. I guess it could be interpreted as the song in which we 'break up' with that sound, but that's not to say I won't give plastic soul or don't-wop another couple rides around the block.”
In the meantime, the band's stoked to show off its newly discovered voice, which it'll do this Saturday, January 30, at The Under Where (2261 College Avenue), the newest iteration of Casey Smith's The Where House venue, which is located just around the corner from the previous spot.
Better still? Before Friday's show, War Party/Dreamy Life Records is letting us premiere a stream of its sophomore full-length below. Check it out.