October 03, 2006
Don't know which is odder: that a atmospheric rock band can be found on the mainly Alt-Country record label Yep Roc, or that said band would take things a little further and actually release a remix record, featuring the work of big-name electronica acts, including Ladytron, ISAN, and Daedelus? Regardless of such things, Cities defies classification and expectations, not only with their excellent self-titled debut, but with Variations, a collection of remixes of songs from their self-titled debut. As you might expect, the remixers add their own touches to Cities' songs, and the results are a bit surprising. While the band's debut might have more in common with bands like Jimmy Eat World, Coldplay, or even possibly Radiohead, these remixes apply their own skills to Cities' handiwork, and the results are intriguing. The two takes on "Writing on the Wall," by both ISAN and Ladytron, are perhaps the most compelling and interesting. The others remixes are more of a mixed bag; interesting, compelling, but not necessarily that captivating. Still, it's hard to find fault with a band that's willing to have a dalliance in a more experimental way. The curious should start with the debut, but for those already in love with that record, Variations is a curious diversion.
We recently caught up with lead singer Josh Nowlan and asked him a few questions about Variations:
How did the idea for a remix record come about? Was this an idea the band had had for a while, or did it simply happen on its own?
It started out as a remix contest. Then we just asked our favorite electronic artists if they would remix some tracks and they were very receptive. It wasn't a project we really thought about beforehand; it just snowballed into this great record with cool artwork.
Of the remixes, which do you find the most impressive?
I'd rather not say which I think is more impressive than the rest. The great thing about this record is that it represents talent from many different places in electronic music and comparing them becomes something like apples and oranges.
How do you feel about hearing your music manipulated by outside minds? Were there any new ideas or concepts that you've gleaned or realized thanks to hearing what these artists did to your songs? Do you think that the electronica element that the EP offers adds a new element to your current songwriting?
I felt surprisingly comfortable having other people completely reconstruct our songs. I thought it was very interesting to hear what the songs could be given the proper electronic tools and talent. Hearing them does not change the way we feel about songwriting, maybe instrumentation, but in the end we are a rock band and we feel that way even more now that this project is complete.