Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Reverb-soaked New York art-crooners Translations are a lazy Sunday dream, tempering their drizzly indie-pop with the subtle shades of classic r&b. Drums rattle drearily and bass lines groove silkily under a haze of lo-fi hum–think doo-wop ballads covered by a Homestead Records band, or Thee Oh Sees at your backyard BBQ already drunk and sleepy on Coronas and cheeseburgers. The Translations’ self-titled debut EP is a purely DIY affair, recorded at bassist David Harrington’s house, mixed by their friend Jeff Curtin and released on New York vinyl-only label Shoot The Singer (run by Kate Pedatella, the sister of Translations member Stefan Pedatella). Says vocalist Andrew Fox, “You could measure the cost of all of that in booze.” Opening track “The Wanderer”–not the Dion song, but certainly lyrically inspired by it–is a two-and-a-half-minute pop gem that matches a hard-pounded post-punk groove with a Nuggets-ready sunburst of warm echo and a harmony-laden chorus, landing somewhere between Creedence, Motown, and Bauhaus
What is “The Wanderer” about?
Andrew Fox, vocals and keys: It’s about running around like Richard Hell in Smithereens, if it had a doo-wop soundtrack instead of the Feelies. That movie has the best shots of the Lower East side in the 1980s. Richard Hell is a nightmare, wastoid lover.
Stefan Pedatella: It’s a love song to doo-wop.
Fox: It was one of the earliest songs we wrote. We were listening to a lot of Dion and Velvet Underground together. I remember I couldn’t figure out the right vocal line for a week after Stefan dropped that guitar lick–but when I got it I felt like Bob Pollard; it just flew out of my mouth at once.
What about the drum beat?
Pedatella: At the time, we rehearsed at Andrew’s place right by the F train in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Fox: You can hear the train rumble in a lot of our early demos. I’ve got into collecting “sounds of the city” LPs, which are full of oddball noises like children playing in a fire hydrant, or an afternoon in Spanish Harlem. We like the idea of putting our immediate environment into the music, so it’s definitely a train beat.
Tell me about the effects you use on your vocals–what and why?
Fox: It’s this killer delay made by Tech21 NYC. I have two of them, to get them extra weird.
Who is the girl on the album cover? How expensive was the bottle of champagne or whatever you broke?
Pedatella: My girlfriend, Veronica.
Fox: We had a tough time getting the milk to explode on contact, but it didn’t cost much more than a bodega gallon.
What’s the most memorable show you ever played in New York?
Pedatella: Kate’s birthday party. It was in her old living room. I was on my knees in the television glow trying to see the guitar frets, Andrew’s amp had blown and Samer was screaming to turn up his drum pad.
Fox: It was such a raw rock show. Probably the first time we felt like a real band.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
Fox: Roberta’s. Indian joints in the upper 20s. Bereket.
Pedatella: Any number of greek diners.
Translations play Glasslands Gallery on Friday, June 18, with Marnie Stern and White Hinterland.
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