“Itâ€™s funny being a band,” says Brandon Hanick, one of local act Beijingâ€™s two vocalists and guitarists, “and the way the recording process works. Itâ€™s not so much that we donâ€™t have a lot of money, but itâ€™s just the fact that what you record takes so long to get out because of the money, that by the time a band has put out a record theyâ€™ve kind of moved on from that sound.” Hanickâ€™s referring to the fact that he sees the four-pieceâ€™s self-released album Tracing Letters as representative of where Beijing was months ago, when the group took a more mellow approach to its breezy, country-influenced pop.
“There were a couple of songs that we decided to leave out,” says Hanick, “because they were heinously slow, Country-Western tunes. Weâ€™ll probably use one on a later release, but for this recording we wanted to present a better image of the band.” When Hanick says the songs are Country-Western tunes, itâ€™s a fine starting point. The exact description of the songsâ€™ sound is a little muddier. Thereâ€™s a strong country influence, yes, but itâ€™s more like Beijing has taken cues from the British bands of the early 1960s who were influenced by American country songs of the â€™50s – the Beatles, the Yardbirds, etc. Songs off of Tracing Letters like “When Youâ€™re Down” and “Waitinâ€™ For Somethinâ€™” use a distinctively English jangle to support the American twang.
The Beijing guys – Hanick, drummer Taylor Coggin, bassist-keyboardist-vocalist Brian Hall and guitarist Trey McManus – recruited Derek Almstead (Circulatory System, Of Montreal) to master Tracing Letters, after “recording about half of it in Myrtle Beach with our friend Rob Gainer,” says Hanick, “and then the rest was recorded here in our living room.”
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