You’ve probably never heard of Analog Moon.
And with good reason. Ever since founder and frontman Todd Britton [editor’s note: Britton and the author are not related] moved to Asheville two years ago, he’s been so focused on recording their new record, Ascent and The Secret There Below, that his band has performed live only once.
But all that’s about to change. If you don’t believe us, go Google their catchy new single, “Soda City.” (Seriously, we’ll wait). With its chugging guitars and haunting falsetto chorus, it’s a tune that perfectly captures the band’s intoxicating, psychedelic brand of power-pop.
That polished sound has been a long-time coming, though. In fact, the first incarnation of the band started back in 2005, while Britton was living in Columbia, S.C. He was recording a solo album at his home studio when he invited pal Rusty Ginn — who, small world, now also lives in Asheville — to lay down some keyboard tracks. With Ginn’s input, the songs took on a life of their own, so much that Britton ditched the solo thing and started a band. He named the new project Analog Moon.
"I was playing with a lot of analog synths and emulators and stuff like that, and using those almost as tools to write songs,” Britton says about the band name. “And then, for me, most of the good work gets down in the wee hours."
Thanks to their off-kilter grooves and flights into Pink Floyd-ian space-rock fancy, the band quickly gained a following in Columbia. In 2007, they released their first full length, A.M. Radio. The buzz for the record soon spread beyond their home base, and within months, the band was a featured artist on satellite indie rock station XMU and were having their songs played as far away as Europe.
But then Britton up and moved to Asheville.
“The move certainly killed some momentum,” Britton, who relocated here with his wife in Fall 2008 for a change of pace, notes. “I had originally planned to keep the same band, and travel back and forth for practices and meet in the middle for gigs. It just didn't work out that way. I was following some new ideas. I wanted to explore a more aggressive, darker approach.”
He found that approach during a chance meeting at Echo Mountain. Britton had stopped by the local studio to visit friend and former bandmate Ryan Monroe — Britton played in Monroe’s Pangroid Band back in Columbia — who was in town recording with his new mates, Band of Horses.
“That’s when I met [drummer and Echo Mountain producer] Jon [Ashley],” says Britton. “I gave him a demo and asked if he knew any local musicians, just anybody who could play some of the parts. And he said he was interested."
The two songwriters quickly hit it off. Over the next two years, the pair recorded at Echo Mountain during off hours, rewriting and reworking the songs that would eventually become Ascent. Their differing styles meshed perfectly, with Britton’s serpentine guitar rock balancing out Ashley’s gentler, piano-based tunes.
"We started with, like, 25 songs,” says Britton. “The songs I brought for the new record were mostly written before I met Jon, as were most of his. And we whittled it down to the songs that worked well together. We could easily make another album with the stuff we have left over.”
Once the album was finished, Britton and Ashley realized they were going to need a full band to play it. They found keyboardist Josh Sullivan through a friend. And for bass, Britton tapped former Archers of Loaf bassist Matt Gentling, who he had met years back when Gentling was touring through South Carolina with — who else — Band of Horses. And like that, Analog Moon was reborn.
With new record in hand, the band is currently planning shows throughout the Southeast. To help kick it all off, Britton turned to where it all began: Echo Mountain. This Friday’s CD release show will be held in the studio’s huge live room on the second floor of the old Salvation Army building (and will feature kegs of LAB beer, naturally). “We wanted our CD release to be special, more like a big house party than just another show,” Britton says.
Of course, translating the studio album to the live stage hasn’t been easy. But it’s also a sign of the times for Analog Moon.
“I think [Ascent] perfectly represents where we are as a band right now,” Britton says. “It's a transitionary record for a transitionary time for the band. The first record was made with a full band in Columbia. This new record was made with myself and Jon and whoever else happened to be passing through the studio at the time. And the next record, that will be a collaborative effort with the new band."
So best catch them now. Because by then, Analog Moon won’t be such a secret anymore.
— Miles Britton is an Asheville-based freelance writer.
who: Analog Moon
what: CD-release party. Electric Owls and Cobra Horse open.
where: Echo Mountain Recording (175 Patton Ave.)
when: Friday, Jan. 21 (9 p.m., $8. analogmoon.com)