The latest release by the Charleston quartet SondorBlue, called “You Will Find Love on Ashley Avenue,” is a five-track EP. But there’s so much skill, melody, craft, and polish squeezed into those five songs that they seem ready to burst out of the speakers. The layered vocal harmonies, particularly on the opening track, “Ashley Ave.,” are simultaneously tight and airy; the guitars ripple and flow like the sun sparkling off a lake, and the rhythm section has a classic low-end thud that educated listeners will immediately associate with the late-period work of The Beatles.
In fact, the whole EP resembles the crisply produced, immaculate pop-rock of 1960s and ’70s titans like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, bands who were able to set up camp in the highest-quality recording studios and work until they’d perfected their songs. And that similarity is entirely intentional.
“We’d been listening to a ton of those classic albums, like The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road,’ and especially Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours,’” drummer Drew Lewis says. “It’s such an amazing record, and all the drum sounds and tones just sound so great. Those inspired us so much that that was our goal for the EP. We wanted it to be a reference to those warm, vintage sounds of that era.”
The difference is that unlike those well-funded classic rockers, SondorBlue had about a week to get their EP done, working at Fairweather Studios in Charleston with producer Omar Colon.
So how did they do it? Lots of preparation.
“I would say a lot of us being able to accomplish what we wanted was the preproduction work we did,” Lewis says. “I’d say we spent a month rehearsing and getting everything set the way we wanted it, so that we’d be able to knock out the recording in about a week. We went in ready to go, recorded them, and moved on quickly.”
But regardless of their intense preparation, there was still a lot of pressure involved in the recording. “We did a lot of live recording, so there would be multiple instruments being played at the same time and bleeding into the mics in the room,” Lewis says. “We had to get the take right and not exhaust it and lose the magic. There was a lot of pressure to just get in there and get it done in two or three takes.”
Lewis says the band picked Omar Colon to produce the record specifically because he shared the same aesthetic they did.
“We definitely needed someone who could help us find all the tones we were looking for in the preproduction phase, and Omar was the perfect person for that,” he says. “He loves all those records like we do, and he had a bunch of instruments and amps we needed. So he was the obvious choice for us.”
And Colon had a secret weapon on hand to help the band even more. “He had this big book called ‘Recording The Beatles,’ which has all the different details of what they used, from amps to drums and cymbals,” Lewis says. “It was the perfect source for that EP.”
There was another unexpected advantage to the band’s meticulous preparation: By the time the EP was finished, they knew exactly how they wanted the songs to sound live.
“We’ve actually changed a lot of the arrangements to embellish them, but those original versions are where it started,” Lewis says. “We made sure the songs flowed well from one to another in a setlist. By working them out in the studio, we really started developing what the live show would sound like so we could go to any venue and have a show prepared that just kills it.”
Ultimately, the goal for SondorBlue, who will play at the Radio Room on Jan. 11, was to record a collection of songs they were proud of, and Lewis says they’ve done just that.
“It’s really different from our first EP, which was fun to create, but we didn’t know too much about what we were doing going into it,” he says. “This one was a lot more planned out. We were really looking forward to releasing it because it’s the kind of music that we wanted to be known for.”
SondorBlue w/ Daddy’s Beemer and Rare Creatures
When: Thursday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway
Info: 864-609-4441, radioroomgreenville.com