Asked to describe the process of making Day & Dream’s new LP, The Art of Remembering, Abby Amaya sums it up with one word: “schizophrenic.”
Prior to the pandemic, the Asheville-based singer-songwriter/keyboardist typically tracked everything in one studio with guitarist Peter Frizzante, along with a handful of regular collaborators. The group’s latest album involved four studios, five session musicians and four sound engineers in different cities, states and countries.
“With all the numerous lockdowns and no regular practice with other musicians, this album was difficult,” Amaya says. “The songs were created in isolated bubbles, and we missed gathering and laughing with other artists. Musically, the album is way less fuzzy and shoegaze than our first. And it’s more chilled-out, probably from being at home so much.”
Despite the scattered way that The Art of Remembering came together, it’s a remarkably cohesive record, unified by Amaya’s alluring vocals and a carefully crafted soundscape that showcases a duo in full command of their musical gifts. While the pair experimented more with programming their own beats, the album also features a number of contributing bassists and drummers.
“Every musician on the album was played a demo of the tracks, and then we gave freedom for them to play what they felt, before offering them feedback,” Frizzante says. “Generally speaking, the song structures are simple. There are moments when there’s mildly flashy playing, but overall there’s a steady flow to the songs. That’s how we like to keep it.”
Locally, Day & Dream looped in bassist Matt Tobia, who Amaya says has “a mighty indie rock/shoegaze aesthetic,” and drummer Jake Cavinder, whom she compares to none other than Animal from The Muppets.
“He is superfunny and can do a lot,” she says. “It’s sometimes unpredictable and over the top, but it’s always full of heart. His drumming at the end of ‘Soft/Softer’ really shows what he can do.”
Atlanta-based jazz combo Daniel Hyman (bass) and Matt Hendler (drums) enhance nearly half of the tracks — Hyman’s riffs on “Rabbit Hole” and “Separation Anxiety” particularly stand out for the band — while two older songs with Brevard-based bassist Erik Jan proved nicely compatible with the newer material.
“We love [Erik’s] psychedelic vibe and have played many shows with him,” Amaya says. “His bassline for ‘Paralysis By Analysis’ blew us away, and we can’t imagine that song without it.”
For the time being, the former Brooklyn and San Francisco residents likewise can’t picture living anywhere except Asheville. Album closer “Soft/Softer” addresses this exact issue with such lyrics as “Left people for the trees” and the gentrification warning, “Don’t let this place turn into what you hate.”
“I often joke with Peter that living in Brooklyn made me tough, but living in the South so long has made us both soft. At times, I feel a little too relaxed here — but I guess that’s to be expected with being in a sauna or salt cave for too long,” she says. “Although the cost of living has skyrocketed, it’s still better when compared to all the cities I have lived in. Plus, with the beautiful nature and awesome health/wellness/food/arts/handcraft culture, Asheville is such a gem.” avl.mx/prwk
Wings of desire
Patricia “Patty M” Mozzicato is constantly writing songs. The Nebo-based singer-songwriter strives to create one original tune per week, then performs them solo or with her acoustic trio, Sorella Jack.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, nixing performances and making band practice too risky, she had even more time on her hands. While not having those regular musical interactions was difficult, she used her time wisely and fine-tuned material for her joyful second album, Like a Luna Moth, which was released in February.
“I have no particular connection to luna moths, except that usually every spring at least one shows up at my house and parks itself near my front door,” Mozzicato says. “One of those visitors is in the photograph on the album cover.”
The titular line came to her while she was developing the song “I’ll Be There in the Middle of The Night.” Mozzicato notes that while writing, she often has “no idea where the song is going or what it’s even about” until she’s well into it.
“I think I was probably just trying to come up with representations of nighttime, dreams, sleep, etc., and the ‘luna moth’ line just dropped into my lap, so I used it,” she says. “Once I included that line and settled on this as the album title, I did some research on these critters and found out there is a whole world of luna moth enthusiasts who actually raise them from caterpillars to moths.”
In figuring out the best way to present these songs, Mozzicato stuck with her tried-and-true acoustic approach, though her tastes run decidedly eclectic.
“Using acoustic instruments like guitar and ukuleles is simply convenient — no fuss, no muss. They’re easy to schlep around when you’re doing gigs. And when I sit down to write a song, I don’t have to fire up an amp if I just strum an acoustic instrument,” Mozzicato says. “That said, I own and play a bunch of different instruments — some electric, others not. Heck, I even play an electric violin.”
After her COVID-19 vaccination, Mozzicato says she felt safe returning to the studio. She linked up with producer/recording engineer Ricky Rodriguez at his Bomb House Recording in Morganton.
“Ricky plays electric guitar and bass on a few of the tracks, and, of course, being a producer, he contributed copious ideas on arrangements,” Mozzicato says.
Additional collaborators on Like a Luna Moth include fellow local musicians Jason Singleton (drums/percussion), Jim Ashton (pedal steel guitar) and Dave Reep, whose trumpet playing Mozzicato describes as “pure magic.”
“And I have to mention my guitar teacher, David Zoll, of Acoustic Corner in Black Mountain, who helped me in working out some of the picking patterns I used in these songs,” she says.
Back in her usual musical flow, Mozzicato looks forward to sharing Like a Luna Moth with new and loyal listeners alike — and welcoming a certain insect or two back to her home. avl.mx/bae
When Wednesday guitarist/vocalist Karly Hartzman chooses what songs to cover, she uses a method similar to those of us who love music but don’t happen to be in rock bands.
“I mostly just look for songs that feel perfectly ‘at home’ in my vocal range,” Hartzman says. “I always want to cover songs I sing in the car.”
Looking to honor the artists who sparked their musical passions, she and her Asheville-based bandmates Jake Lenderman (guitar/vocals), Xandy Chelmis (lap steel guitar), Margo Schultz (bass) and Alan Miller (drums) put those guiding principles into play on Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up, a stellar collection of ’90s-inspired distorted guitars and driving rhythms slated for a Friday, March 11, release.
A combination of humor and sadness link the album’s song selections. Artists Gary Stewart, Roger Miller and Vic Chestnutt are among the masters of this approach, says Hartzman, and each made the cut.
Other highlights include Smashing Pumpkins’ “Perfect” and “Had 2 Try” by friends Hotline TNT, the latter of which Wednesday tried hard to present as faithfully as possible to the original. While n
o songs were purposefully left off Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up, in hindsight, Hartzman wishes that the band had included its cover of Elliott Smith’s “Christian Brothers.” (“Just slipped my mind,” she says.)
Wednesday recorded the first half of the album at a Durham studio called Betty’s, as well as Haw Creek Studio in Asheville. The group laid down the back half of the collection with Lenderman (using his MJ Lenderman moniker) handling recording and mixing duties at his home studio. Fresh off the band’s August 2021 LP, Twin Plagues, the experience fortified an already deep bond among the musicians.
“Our band identity has become really strong over the past year — it’s a special feeling,” Hartzman says.
That camaraderie is so powerful that it’s resulted in a slew of new original songs, leaving little room for covers in Wednesday’s live sets. Nevertheless, Hartzman suspects that some of the tracks from Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up will eventually make it to the stage, possibly during the band’s current three months of steady touring, which includes a Friday, May 20, appearance at The Orange Peel, opening for Beach Bunny. avl.mx/bad