Real swell year - Page 2

Americana act Mornin' Old Sport moves out West to release its debut LP

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Scott Nanos, Jeff Price, and Kate Smeal made it to Oakland
PHOTOS BY ADAM JOSEPH BROCHSTEIN

Now there's yet another relationship to take into consideration: Mornin' Old Sports' new connection with the Bay Area. Nanos, Smeal, and Price moved out West this February and fell in love with Oakland. "We moved for romantic reasons..." Nanos says. Smeal smiles, "and now we're staying for the same." They tend to do that, finish each other thoughts. Price often laughs, nodding along.

In playing Oakland and Berkeley co-ops, house parties, and warehouses, they've just begun absorbing the local scene, and through the shows recently added two new members to the group — bassist Jack Kodros and guitarist Mike Schlenoff. Currently, the five musicians are out on the road for their first big tour, lugging those brand new vinyl records in the hot van. The debut was officially released this week, while the band makes its way through the Midwest.

Recorded mostly live in Price's family studio just north of Aspen last year, the record is a promising and pleasurable debut, straddling vintage genres, and mixing up vocal duties. Nanos often leads, but Smeal shines on jazzy torch songs, "Over the Moon" and "My Lips," along with swooshing if maudlin country track "Clementine."

Standout track, "When the Bomb" boasts some icky lyrical imagery "when the bomb finally drops/I'll splatter on the wall/But when that bomb finally drops/It won't hurt me at all," yet musically remains sticky-lemonade-sweet and cheery.

There's a timelessness to all this. "When the Bomb" has such a nostalgic tug, it's difficult to believe it's not a cover. But that's part of the charm in these songs, the reverence to the past and the relative simplicity of those feisty chords.

"If you took a Beach House song or something and wrote out chord changes for it, melody line, someone would [still] have a really tough time recreating it," says Nanos. "Whereas I feel like the kind of song we're aiming to write, we can write a chart for someone and be like, 'here you go, just go play it.' I like the social values of that."

As for band hopes of that nature, Smeal has a lofty one: "The ultimate goal of the band is to make art that will stay alive years and years after we're dead."

"And that will most likely never happen," Nanos interjects as Price chuckles, "but that's the goal." *

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