Download: Laura Stevenson & The Cans, “Master of Art”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

Brooklyn’s Laura Stevenson & The Cans make the good kind of indie rock: the beaming, soaring, cloud-gazing, theatrical kind; the nu-sensitivo version of “all killer no filler.” Their hooks never pussyfoot around–think Arcade Fire, Foals, Frightened Rabbit–and even churn with a little bit of the sharpened-tooth grin of Don Giovanni labelmates like Screaming Females and YIMBY alumni Shellshag. Their edge is no accident: before embarking on decidedly more sensitive pastures, Stevenson spent time in Long Island punk collective Bomb The Music Industry. Second album Sit Resist (out April 26) mixes a whimsical drizzle of accordions and glockenspiels and brass and banjos and other indie accoutrements with a punchy blast of old fashioned guitar muscle. First taste “Master Of Art” uses the tried-and-true “Be My Baby” beat to slowly drive a reflective song into explosive Florence territory–a powerful blast of belting, bursting jangle-punk.

Download: Laura Stevenson & The Cans, “Master of Art”

Q&A: Laura Stevenson

What is “Master Of Art” about?

Well, when I started writing it we were in a weird place as a band. I was kind of holding everyone back from being able to tour all the time because I was spending too much time on my backup plan, getting my masters in art history. Plan B started getting in the way of the band and I felt crazy and we were pretty much glued to New York. Then, when I was finished with classes, things started getting hectic and we did a whole string of stressful–and at points not very successful–touring to kind of make up for lost time. We did a lot of sleeping in the van. It was pretty rough. So, the second half of the song is a promise that it’ll get better. Which I think it is.

You’re working on your thesis. What’s it on?

It’s on commissions by Cosimo de Medici and Eleonora di Toledo. I’m really, really behind! It’s so hard to tour and do research at the same time.

What inspired “Master Of Art” lyrically?

I guess all those guilty, sad feelings. Also, it’s definitely a love song. Mike [Campbell, bassist] and I are together, we have been for three years. The band has been growing around us, which is awesome, but it’s a strain when things are at their hardest.

What inspired it musically?

I’d say the beginning is very Phil Spector-y and the end is kind of… Strokes-y, I guess, with the short little driving guitar strums. I guess when I was thinking of ideas for instrumentation in my head I was subconsciously combining my favorite bits about records I like.

Why did you use the “Be My Baby” beat?

It just made so much sense with the melody, and, honestly, any song that is built around that beat I’m instantly drawn to.

Whats your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?

Ooooh, I would have to say Carmine’s on Graham in Brooklyn. I’m pretty sure that place has the best eggplant parm slice in the world.

Laura Stevenson & The Cans play the Baruch Performing Arts Center (with Archipeligo!) on April 8, the Knitting Factory (with Pomegranates) on May 10 and Mercury Lounge (with Fake Problems) on May 13.