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Water Tower | Fly Around

Come for the guest list. Stay for the freewheeling fusion of roots & psychedelia.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “For every band, there is that moment when they ask themselves, “should we call it quits or keep going?” Even in the strongest of bands, that question will arise, if even briefly. Water Tower (formerly known as Water Tower Bucket Boys to those that have followed them for a long time, changing their name in 2012 after the release of their Meet Me Where The Crow Don’t Fly EP) front man and co-founder Kenny Feinstein asked himself that very question following the recording of what was to be the christening of the new Water Tower name, their full-length, Secret Love Buzz, the title taken from a line in Feinstein’s song, Bobcats. Worried about the future of Water Tower, Feinstein focused his energy on his debut solo album, a cover of My Bloody Valentine’s seminal album Loveless, entitled Loveless: Hurts To Love, released in the fall of 2013. A huge fan of bluegrass and traditional folk music, Feinstein also grew up on punk and psychedelic rock, citing The Germs (and, obviously, My Bloody Valentine) as big influences. Reaching out to former Germs’ drummer Don Bolles, Kenny enlisted his help to produce Fly Around, bringing the L.A.-based Bolles up to Portland, Oregon, where Feinstein was living at the time, to track the record at Deer Lodge Studios, with Ezra Meredith engineering. Following the tracking of the album in Portland, Feinstein and the band moved to Los Angeles, where they kept working on the record, recording overdubs and mixing the record at Nightbird Studios in Hollywood, with the help of engineer Juliette Amoroso, and Bolles again producing. Bolles would also bring in friend and bandmate Ariel Pink to assist in production and help perform on the record. Bolles would go on to handle all the drums for the album, as well as play some guitar and bass, and as Feinstein puts it, “all around directed everything.” Pink contributed bass, backing vocals, keyboards, and co-produced the album. Other guests would include Black Flag’s second singer Ron Reyes adding lead vocals to Anthem, ex-Old Crow Medicine Show (a band that helped Water Tower Bucket Boys in the beginning) member Willy Watson on lead vocals on Fly Around and harmonies on Come Down Easy, as well as Bullets and Octane’s Gene Louis on backing vocals for Fly Abound and Bobcats.”

MY TWO CENTS: The unexpected guest list of left-fielders like Germs drummer Don Bolles, indie weirdo Ariel Pink and Black Flag singer Ron Reyes should be enough to draw you into this album from West Coast bluegrassers Water Tower. But to their credit, what keeps you there isn’t the VIPs — they don’t really leave much of a stamp on the final product, if I’m being honest. Instead, the real star of the show is the band’s own adventurous, freewheeling fusion of rustic roots and gently psychedelic textures. Strange but true.