Vinyl is back — for records, that is, not automobile interiors — and that’s great for merch booths, labels, music stores and audiophiles. It’s a boon for record-pressing plants, too, except that the uptick in business has increased to the point of overwhelm. The Washington Post reported on the phenomenon last year, citing “increased costs involved in locating, refurbishing, installing, operating and ultimately repairing machines that are no longer made but are pushed harder and faster than they were in their heyday.”
Local post-punk/neo-surf outfit Ouroboros Boys have felt the pinch personally. They’ll release, “Spitfire” / “The Corsage,” the first single from their forthcoming self-titled debut, with a free show at The Lazy Diamond Sunday, Dec. 20. The LP, fully mastered and ready for an audience, has been in the queue at a record-pressing plant. “We thought we’d get it out in maybe eight or 10 weeks,” says mandolin player Nicholas Marshall. “It’s taken a long time — maybe eight months.”
Marshall, who founded the band with guitarist Sean Dail in 2012, says, “I’ve been conditioned since I was a kid collecting DIY punk 7-inches and LPs … just feeling like [vinyl] was the final product. I feel like the final phase is to see your artwork in record form.”
That DIY and punk aesthetic carries through to the sound, too. “A pet interest of mine is mid-century exotica and instrumental music that was supposed to be mood music,” says Marshall. “We’re a slightly dystopian take on that.” For him, Ouroboros Boys are “coming out of punk-rock and being emotionally ambivalent about the future of our society and the world, and wanting to express that through the music.”
The band wants to move the listener through emotions, Marshall adds. So the sonic experience is “more angular and darker than what people think of when they think of surf-rock.” Digitally released track “Bikini Atoll,” from last fall, is lilting at its start and then heavy in moments. Ion-rich melodies drift above murky psychedelic guitar parts that hint at both slack-key tunings and beach-party horror films.
“The Corsage” — one of the songs on the new single, and available as a download on Bandcamp — nods to spaghetti Western soundtracks, ’60s-era girl groups and a sci-fi version of the future that has not yet come to pass. The musical ideas at play — from doom-driven percussion to the sweet warble of a waltz — are at once experimental and decisive. “We’re not jazz, and we’re not jam,” Marshall says. “We build these structures — they’re pretty defined.”
That track, a play on a ’60s-style prom song, has been paired with a video by filmmaker David Kabler (Wanderlost, Mountain Punks Fight Dirty, Darkening Land). It will premiere at the Lazy Diamond single launch party and will screen a couple of times throughout the evening. Marshall won’t give anything away about the music video, other than to promise it’s really cool. “This will be a big night for us,” he says.
Despite the backup at the vinyl pressing plant, Ouroboros Boys have kept busy with touring and building a fan base. In 2015, the musicians played in Boone, Raleigh, Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., among other locales. Plus, they’re pushing ahead with plans to record again this winter. “I really like things to be more linear,” says Marshall. As in, release the full-length debut before starting on the sophomore album. But, “Sean and I are writing songs constantly, and we can’t get backed up on that side, either,” he says.
Marshall adds, “It’s funny, because we’re already coming up with names for this second group of songs.” It’s also a little bit ironic, considering the bleak inspirations behind Ouroboros Boys’ oeuvre. But that worldview only applies to (and enhances) the sound — not the bright outlook on the band’s future.
WHO: Ouroboros Boys with DJ Lance Wille and “The Corsage” video screening
WHERE: The Lazy Diamond, facebook.com/TheLazyDiamondBar
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 20, 9 p.m. Free