Photo Credits-Steven Medeiros

Water Tower Band’s Fly Around

Fly Around is an album by LA bluegrass-country band Water Tower. It is the brain child of Kenny Feinstein, who spent years in the folk scene in Portland, until eventually finding himself in LA, making a living doing session work and rebuilding his life, really. Some of the songs were recorded years earlier, written years earlier, but it all sounds immediate. His sense of melody, his voice, and the lyrics he chooses to compose always make me perk up and listen. There are songs I like more than others on the album, but there’s at least one thing that really intrigues me in each. This idea of giving personality to each individual song, while still retaining an overall familiarness throughout, almost like the songs are members of an overall family, isn’t a novel idea, but it was Kenny’s use of it that, once again, made my ears perk up.

Aimee Mann’s Entire Discography

Aimee Mann’s work has kept me company for at least five years. I think she’s a wonderful human being, and she has a classic sense of songwriting that I admire greatly. Her love of strings has no doubt had an effect on my taste, and therefore the use of strings on the record.

Louie’s Coffee on King St. and the Lucky Penny General Store by Trinity Bellwood Park

I presume for a long time I will be the person who has heard this record “the most”. A lot of that is because I spent hours, and hours, and hours, and kilometres, and kilometres, and kilometres, listening to different versions of the record, sliding songs around, snipping bits, seeing how it all flows… How do you keep walking without coffee? The folks at the shops in the title are lovely and deserve to be singled out.

Weed

Weed is by no means necessary to the creative process, but it does alter it, and gaining different “perspectives” on my work is helpful for me. It helps me with certain thoughts spinning out of control. But yeah I’m about a year away from being Young Snoop Dogg with the marijuana leaf on his white cap.

Long walks through Trinity Bellwood Park (with See Above)

This was my walking path of choice. Seeing the seasons change and then somehow the context of the album change was a pretty wonderful thing. To me, it’s a summer record. I wrote and recorded it through spring and summer 2020. That it’s now sloshing around through an eerie Toronto winter is an interesting thing. I think the warmth it carries may come out in a few months from now.

John Critchley

The man himself. Through this entire process we only met a handful of times. He, his wife, his child, and his dog are lovely, and welcoming. It’s unfortunate most of our business was done over email, voice memos, and phone calls, but that’s the pandemic for you! He had a lot of patience with me. I know how to write and arrange a song, but I had little to no idea about anything even remotely advanced to do with recording, software, files(do you need proof? Please listen to my first album). He guided me through everything, and it was a great first experience. His main influence on the album was… literal. He mixed it, and he added more percussion on “The Victor’s Bell”… It’s his ear for certain flashes of pop that is his influence.

A lot of alone time

We are back to the aforementioned “walking”. Covid had dropped us into quarantine and being in a relationship was difficult. Somehow long distance despite being in the same city. I’d be lying if I didn’t think it played some part in the album. There are lyrics that I wrote quickly and naturally that I’ve only come to reconsider recently as the album is released. On “Don’t” I essentially wrote a tribute to/wish for pre-covid times when people could meet up, and the way you begin to forget certain thrills. Ironically, the album is out, and I’m now single, and we’re still in quarantine. I wrote it in a relationship but through everything in 2020 it feels to me like both a break-up record and a summer fun kind of record. To a lot of people, it seems like it’s a dramatic dark record. It’s that, too, but… summer’s have thunderstorms? Is that the laziest analogy put to paper ever?

Heat

Not the movie, although it’s on my list – the heat of the summer, once again, remains a factor for me, and I believe it influenced parts of the album. There is a coldness to some songs but I think in the right context, in the sun, or walking through a park on a nice day, songs like “Friends and Dinner”, “On the Dance Floor”, and “Rosie” should be fun ones. They were for me.

Old Disco

It’s not the music, it’s the mood. Despite certain personal internal issues, my overall happiness had come back around 26-27 – around this time. This was thanks to a whole mix of things, but remembering to have fun, and just seek joy was a huge element of the summer of 2020 and 2019. Summer of 2020 was obviously awful for many reasons but there was a brief period where there was a little relief.

Loveless: Hurts to Love

Bookending this with Kenny. This is the original work by Kenny Feinstein that I found and fell in love with. Terrible sentence structure whoo. Kenny covered the entirety of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. I fell in love with this version and built an entire backstory for myself around it. Kenny Feinstein must be this, and that, and a mystery, and whatever. Well, those thoughts were put to bed when I found Kenny through Instagram and he was as chill as they come. I think the day after we started speaking on Instagram, we were on the phone, chatting about his soon-to-be release record Fly Around, and my ideas for my forthcoming EP or next LP, which would eventually be …And the Country Stirred. Since then we’ve spoken often and shared a great musical bond. He’s all over the album and it’s a pleasure. He brought sense of melody and atmosphere he honed on Loveless and Fly Around and applied it to the album’s greatest tracks: “Rosie”, “A Pretty One”, “And You Stirred” and more.

Listen to his new album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4mOQbjS4d1rlAfb8GRdTas?si=YX-o9sezSEGGfYsMJ1_vug