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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Picks Up the Pace with The High Country

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 7:32 AM

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin will perform Friday, June 26, at Off Broadway. - SHAY RAINEY
  • Shay Rainey
  • Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin will perform Friday, June 26, at Off Broadway.

A group of high school friends get together, form a band and release an album of fuzzy, uptempo songs -- it's a trope as old as rock music itself. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, however, waited until its fifth record to show off its more more garage-rock side. "It was a reaction to our last album," said singer/drummer/guitarist Phillip Dickey of The High Country, the group's latest release. "On the last album [we] recorded all the parts ourselves. We were very meticulous about finding tones.This was...let's do things the exact opposite."

The contrast between the two records is immediately apparent. The piano and drum machine intro that opened Fly By Night , the group's 2013 album, is replaced by a simple count-off and a wall of fuzz with "Line on You," the new album's opener.

"We always get tired of ourselves," Dickey explains of the shift. "It can be better; let's change things around."

To help facilitate that change, the group enlisted Beau Sorenson to produce the album. Sorensen had previously worked with the band during the recording of its third effort, Let it Sway. In his own words, he has "been lucky enough to work on some really loud rock records," including recent releases by Bob Mould and Mike Krol -- a perfect resume to accommodate the direction in which SSLYBY was headed.

"We knew he could make a classic-sounding album," Dickey says of Sorensen. "Record it live and do it fast."

Dickey and guitarist/singer Will Knauer met Sorenson at Hall of Justice Studios in Seattle -- a location chosen partially, according to Sorenson, because it was where Nirvana recorded Bleach.

While no one would confuse The High Country for Nirvana's debut, the ghosts of Bleach's fuzz and feedback appear throughout the album. "Step Brother City," "Trevor Forever" and "Song Will" all further the fast-paced manifesto set forth by the opening track. After spending hours just searching for the right drum tone on the last LP, Dickey said the band was looking for a recording pace to match the tempo of the new songs.

As for Sorenson, he was hoping to make a record that sounded like "something loud, live and fun."

"I didn't want to lose any of the excitement and vitality I heard in the demos," he says. "I wanted to capture the sound of a group of very close friends doing something they love, together."

Within that group of friends is a reunion of sorts. Original bassist Tom Hembree has rejoined the band after leaving for art school following the release of its debut album Broom. After living in New York for awhile, Hembree moved back to SSLYBY's home base of Springfield, Missouri, a few years ago.

"We always felt his bass playing was a secret weapon," Dickey says. "He plays things differently than we would."

And though most of the recording was done in Seattle, Sorenson says he also met with the band in its hometown to lay down some additional tracks.

"Home recording has always been a part of [Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin]," he explains, "and I felt like it was important to maintain that, and some hometown connections."

Those ties to Springfield, where Dickey has lived since forming the band as a high school student in 1999, are integral to SSLYBY's music. He speaks of the differences between living in a "city" and a "town" -- the latter a word he uses to classify Springfield.

While cities provide a plethora of entertainment options, he says, "in a town you have to do things; you have to make stuff. You have to make art. You have to be in band."

Though a move to New York or Los Angeles may have provided the group more opportunities for press and exposure, Dickey says he's unsure that it would have helped.

"We sabotaged ourselves with the band's name," he laughs. "We're screwed wherever we live."

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin 9 p.m. Friday, June 26. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.

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