Little did I know in my struggling years as a young(ish) shoegazer back in the early 90s that one day bands would be labelled "post-shoegaze" as a badge of honor. Atlanta’s Snowden have been given that tag, but there’s oh so much more to them than just that. Pop and rock are equal parts, and they use a special technique that my friend Mike G taught me after our band broke up many years ago. I was complaining about the stuff I was doing on my own, and his wise advice was to throw on more reverb and more distortion. The result was fantastic. Snowden have taken that same advice. Their debut album comes out August 22nd, and their EP can be downloaded from their website.
With its August 22nd release date looming, prepare for Snowden’s first full-length to knock your socks clear across the room. The band’s sound has evolved since their earlier work into something that combines the energy of a band like Bloc Party with the influences of bands like My Bloody Valentine. Just listen to the title track and you’ll be hooked.
Atlanta-based Snowden was formed by front man Jordan Jeffares while he was at the University of Georgia in 2003. During the last three years, the band has matured greatly. They developed an avid fan base by playing shows regularly in Atlanta, New York and Boston.
Jeffares offers distinctively haunting vocal styling, and the band provides a complex and intricate sound. Snowden regularly draws comparisons to Ride, Joy Division, early Cure and Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs.
Along with vocalist Jeffares, Snowden is made up of guitarist David Payne, bassist Corinne Lee and drummer Chandler Rentz. Snowden’s debut full-length album, Anti-Anti, will be release by Jade Tree Records on August 4.
Songs from their forthcoming album are available on their Web site: www.snowden.info or on the band’s MySpace page: www.myspace.com/snowden.
Jeffares and Payne took time out of their tour preparation to discuss a variety of topics with DeadJournalist.com.
After graduating from college you had the choice of – among other things – medical school or music. What made you decide to try to make it in the music industry? Was it a tough choice?
JJ: It wasn’t a tough choice at all. I’d been killing myself to try to prepare for grad school throughout my college years and I had no desire to go straight into a profession. My personality, desires and my perception of the world were changing so fast that I knew I would be making a mistake if I dove into anything right out of college.
I was also pouring out music at the time. It was all I thought about outside of school and I was kind of obsessing over it every hour that I wasn’t studying. I’m very obsessive and I transitioned all of my academic ambition over to music.
And that was how Snowden started out.
How long did it take you to get the current Snowden lineup set? Did you know any of the members before they joined the band?
JJ: I was finishing school and my older brother Preston had started showing off some of my early demos to his friends at a dance rock night he was doing at the time. He found the first member, which lead to the other four members including Dave. I didn’t know any of them before we stepped in a room and played together.
After playing with that group for a while, scheduling demands became greater, and the band changed. Dave had been ready to leave his job since the beginning, so he stayed on. I found Chandler through a friend that said, "you’re drummer is amazing, but the only person that could hold a candle to him is my roommate Chandler."
Then I found Corinne through a friend in Austin, who said, "If you ever need a bassist, I know the coolest chick in Atlanta, who is amazing."
From then on, we decided to play as a four piece – instead of the original five.
Which do you enjoy more – the process of crafting a song or performing with the band?
JJ: I used to enjoy writing much more, but now I enjoy them both equally. In the beginning I didn’t know what I was doing on stage. I couldn’t sing very well. I just wasn’t comfortable. But now we’ve really settled into our groove and we know who we are and what we’re doing.
DP: Well, they are completely different beasts. I think I prefer fiddling around with stuff in my bedroom and creating sound more than I do just playing a show, but there have been some moments live that are really memorable.
Usually with Snowden, it’s just me learning a part Jordan already has and figuring out how to make it work live. Once you’ve played it hundreds of times though, you don’t even have to really think about it anymore.
I send most every little piece I record at home to Jordan, and he’s been trying to build off quite a few of them. He took one of the acoustic things I sent him and made a song out of it that’s on the album. That was cool. Hopefully some more will end up on the next record. We already have another album’s worth of material to choose from.
Who are the artists that influence you?
JJ: The Cure, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Elliott Smith, Portishead, Wilco, The Zombies, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Sunny Day Real Estate – I always think of better ones later but that’s all I’ve got right now.
Really, what I take away from each of them is their unconventional approaches to everything from guitar work to songwriting. You can pick all of them out of the crowd.
DP: I spent a good deal of my high school years figuring out how to play Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Led Zeppelin and Beatles songs. I had a subscription to Guitar Player magazine and was into people like Steve Vai. That was a brief phase though.
Not long after that I discovered Jimi Hendrix and became obsessed. I listened to his albums and live recordings religiously in high school.
I no longer really view guitarists in terms of being technically good. Now, I’m into people who are unique, tasteful and expressive. As of late, I think Nick Zinner is really creative with how he approaches the guitar. His sound is huge and he’s a master of looping really cool sounding, simple riffs. I also think the acoustic work of Nick Drake is breathtaking. He had so many unusual guitar tunings.
One of my goals is to learn how to play the entire Pink Moon album. I know one song so far. I have a lot of work to do there.
What was the first thing you did after Snowden had been signed to Jade Tree?
JJ: I finished mixing the album then went up to New York for the mastering. After tha,t I took a month off and tried not to think about the record at all. It was a very stressful process.
DP: It was a long back-and-forth process with Jade Tree, I knew we had the deal before all the paperwork was done. I actually faxed them all the signed contracts from the fax machine at my work. I guess that’s the day it really sank in. That was a Friday, and I ended up at Decatur Social Club that night. It’s a celebration there every Friday night, but that was a special one I suppose.
Snowden’s debut full-length, Anti-Anti, comes out in August. You’ve spent years with many of the songs on the album, but are there still certain ones that you are eager to perform while onstage?
JJ: We’re eager to perform all of them to people who have never seen them. No matter how many times you’ve played a song, when you’re playing it for people who are hearing you for the first time, it’s like it’s the first time for you.
I never realized how entwined a band and the audience can be. You can feel everything, the stares, people mouthing the words, people stomping their feet.
Snowden has played extensively on the east coast in past years but you’re one month away from your first coast-to-coast tour. What’s been the biggest challenge of setting up the tour thus far?
JJ: Booking the shows. Booking without a booking agent is ridiculous. I have to work three times as hard to get the dates I want.
While Atlanta has been a haven for hip-hop artists for the past decade, it has had little success or relevance in other genres. Why do you think that is?
DP: That’s a hard question to answer. I have no clue really. I think lately there are some really good bands starting to pop up, and that can only help bring attention to the scene here.
I can honestly say that if Snowden does have any success on a national level, we hope to use it to bring more attention to the scene here in Atlanta.
Snowden’s first single, the title track "Anti-Anti", will be an animated video, which is quite an undertaking. Whose idea was it to use animation for the video and who is doing the animation for the band?
DP: Well, actually a really nice group of people offered to do a video for us and they filmed us playing in front of a green screen at Spitfire Studios over a weekend a while back. They already had a concept and had sent us some stills with the basics. We agreed, but to be honest we’ve yet to see anything come back yet.
These guys do video work for a large company and are working on our video in their spare time. Jordan’s usually very hands on with everything involving Snowden, but he’s just letting them do their thing and waiting to see what they come back with. Hopefully, it will be something we all like.
JJ: Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on with it right now but I think it’s still a go. When people are working for free and their idea is good, you just let them work.
Wouldn’t you like to see the return to prominence of the music video? I mean, where would the world be if Aerosmith hadn’t made the "Crazy" and "Amazing" videos and exposed millions of teenagers to Alicia Silverstone and virtual reality?
JJ: Oh yeah, we’d love to turn more kids on to Lindsay Lohan. She needs the attention and we need a video glamorizing the marvel of text messaging.
DP: Ha-ha, good point. Well, I see the Internet as a place where videos are still relevant, especially with the advent of sites like YouTube. MTV doesn’t really play that many videos anymore, but I still see a lot of bands making some really great videos.
I just came across a blog post this morning that had a link to a new Broken Social Scene video (Fire Eyed Boy) that’s hilarious. With the Internet it’s a lot more immediate, you can just go to a Web site and watch all the videos of your favorite band. There’s no need to wait around for one to show up on TV anymore.
Over the past week or so since graduation, I’ve been looking for reasons to procrastinate on studying for the bar. With a working bicycle and easy access to the Internet, there seems to be no shortage of opportunties to find stuff to do other than review the Privileges and Immunities clause of the Constitution. I swear, the ease with which I am entertained will be my undoing.
Mostly the Internet has served as a gateway for new music over the past week (really!). In that vein, Brian directed me to Snowden, a new-ish band out of Atlanta, Georgia with a full length exepected in late August on Jade Tree records. The music has a pretty great feel to it—sharp-edged and fast-paced, but with an underlying sadness to it. It sounds kind of like the Cure if the Cure, you know, rocked. They’ve made a lot of music available on their site, which is nice. I particularly recommend Anti-Anti, off their forthcoming album.
Download, and have fun!
Atlanta band Snowden has done some serious work in its three years. Drawing comparisons to bands like New Order, The Cure and Ride, Snowden’s not your typical Atlanta act. The band concocts a swirl of heady, reverberating guitars, lacing them with keys and dark vocals, coming together with a tight rhythm section to create a sound that is heavily laden with influences yet stands on its own.
Snowden most recently signed with Jade Tree Records, home to acts like My Morning Jacket and the Promise Ring. In good company. Snowden will tour throughout the coming summer, building support for an August release of the full-length album, Anti-Anti.
Flagpole caught up with band founder/vocalist Jordan Jeffares and guitarist David Payne for a quick Q&A. Until August, you can head over to www.snowden.info to check out some tracks or catch the full lineup, including Corinne Lee (bass, keys) and Chandler Rent (drums), with local act Boulevard at the 40 Watt this weekend.
How did you end up with Jade Tree?
We signed to Jade Tree in March ?°»06 after a pretty long dance that started in August ’05 when one of the owners came down to see us. We had reportedly won him over, but he still had to sell us to his colleagues. [Jade Tree] were moving to a new way of business with new distribution as well, so they were in the process of rethinking how they wanted to move forward with the label at the same time they were talking to us.
I was a little freaked out by all of this but at that point we were reaching a critical point as a band. We had not released a record in almost two-and-a-half years, and we needed to do something. In the end, the one co-owner that loved us at Jade Tree turned into the whole label being excited, so that was good to hear.
There was definitely a great feeling after the deal was done, though. We’ve worked really hard to get to this point, Jordan especially, and knowing that we landed on a label we know is going to really get behind our record is something we’re very grateful to have.
Was it difficult to reach your status in Atlanta, or were locals supportive from the start?
We didn’t have any crowd to speak of when we started, but with a lot of networking and promoting we’ve been able to build enough of a following in Atlanta to pack rooms out consistently.
Atlanta is a very hard scene. All people seem to say in unison is that it’s hard to get people out to shows in Atlanta. Luckily, we’ve always done well, but never without a lot of work.
Receiving comparisons to acts like The Cure and New Order, you’re uniquely non-derivative in comparison to a lot of the post-punk acts appearing these days.
The reason I don’t think that applies to us is because I’ve never written the music using a lot of those conventions. If I heard something that I thought was derivative, I changed it.
Yeah, it’s really hard when we get that inevitable question, “Who do you sound like?” I feel stupid no matter how I answer that. I think we sound unique, but have a lot of moments that draw from different styles, without being overly derivative about it.
How has the road treated you so far?
I still have a wound on my hand that is healing from the last bout on the road. I just bought a van and trailer, which makes everything much easier than the pickup truck we used to travel in. We learned on our last time out that we can play the same bloody, sweaty show for seven people in Indianapolis as we can play for 150 in Philadelphia. We didn’t know what playing like that for 11 days straight was like.
Despite everything, though, we’re very fortunate to able to get out and play shows in other cities. You start to miss your bed a little, but you also get used to the routine of playing a show, driving to another city the next day and doing it all over again. Our record is going to be available in the UK, and I’m hoping people latch on to it over there as well. I would love to go over there and play some shows.
Haha, today I can update a lot because I’m just reposting exciting news!!!!
Atlanta’s SNOWDEN drowns their brand of melodies in a sea of reverb heavy distortion and hypnotic layers. Anti-Anti (JT1115), the band’s debut album for Jade Tree, integrates the ethereal guitar resonance and dynamic percussion reminiscent of bands like RIDE, NEW ORDER and early CURE, with the volatility of contemporaries such as THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS. Combining a mix of tracks recorded by Erik Wofford (Octopus Project, The Black Angels) at Cacophony Recorders in Austin with tracks recorded and mixed by principal songwriter Jordan Jeffares, Anti-Anti finds Jeffares and company elevating their trademark sound into an unpredictable mix of dirty pop soundscapes. If post-shoegaze exists as a genre, then SNOWDEN is proving their contention for the upper ranks.
Anti-Anti will be released on August 22, 2006, with SNOWDEN touring throughout the summer in support of the upcoming release.
ade Tree Records sent a release today announcing that they are now taking pre-orders for the forthcoming full-length from Atlanta’s own Snowden. These guys have been playing their own brand of indie/shoegaze both locally and otherwise the past few years, and it’s nice to see them building a national audience. As some of my readers know (hi breathmint!) I taped their recent show at Drunken Unicorn and I’ll try to work on the transfer in the near future. If only doing transfers was as fun and painless as taping and listening..
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Atlanta’s SNOWDEN drowns their brand of melodies in a sea of reverb heavy distortion and hypnotic layers. (JT1115), the band’s debut album for Jade Tree, integrates the ethereal guitar resonance and dynamic percussion reminiscent of bands like RIDE, NEW ORDER and early CURE, with the volatility of contemporaries such as THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS. Combining a mix of tracks recorded by Erik Wofford (Octopus Project, The Black Angels) at Cacophony Recorders in Austin with tracks recorded and mixed by principal songwriter Jordan Jeffares, Anti-Anti finds Jeffares and company elevating their trademark sound into an unpredictable mix of dirty pop soundscapes. If post-shoegaze exists as a genre, then SNOWDEN is proving their contention for the upper ranks.
Anti-Anti will be released on August 22, 2006, with SNOWDEN touring throughout the summer in support of the upcoming release.
Anti-Anti and receive a free SNOWDEN poster with your order. Pre-orders will be shipped on August 4th.
1. Like Bullets
3. My Murmuring Darling
4. Filler is Wasted
5. Black Eyes
6. Between the Rent and Me
7. Counterfeit Rules
8. Innocent Heathen
9. Stop Your Bleeding
10. Kill the Power
11. Victim Card
Atlanta’s SNOWDEN are gearing up for a short outing along the East Coast and dipping into the Midwest while they’re at it. The band just delivered several smoking performances at SXSW shortly after completing their debut album Anti Anti. Come out and support our new southern friends. You won’t be disappointed.
04/15/2006 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
04/20/2006 Indianapolis, IN United States @ Melody Inn
04/21/2006 Cincinnati, OH United States @ The Comet
04/23/2006 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
04/25/2006 Boston, MA @ Bill’s Bar
04/26/2006 New York, NY @ Arlene’s Grocery
04/27/2006 Brooklyn, NY @ Southpaw
04/28/2006 Virginia Beach, VA @ Freedom Surf Shop
04/29/2006 Charlotte, NC @ The Evening Muse
05/27/2006 Greenville, SC @ The Handlebar
Please see the for all show details.
I’m not sure how, where or from whom I heard of the Atlanta-based band Snowden before. I mean, people are constantly telling me about bands or asking me if I’ve heard of bands. It all becomes a blur after a while. But the name Snowden, for some reason was familiar to me. So, when I got a press release about them singing with Jade Tree records and preparing for the August 22nd release of their debut album with an MP3 link attached I was quick to click it.
Within seconds of clicking the link I found myself furiously nodding my head along to the infectious rhythm of "Anti Anti," the title track from the forthcoming album I mentioned. And had it not been 5 AM I would have surely been stamping my feet and clapping along as well. I’m just too courteous to my neighbors though. Anyway, "Anti Anti" is one of those songs. You know, the kind of rock song that gets you snapping your neck, singing along and wishing you had an egg-shaker, cowbell or tambourine to bang on as you dance around your apartment to it. Then again, maybe that’s just me? The only way to find out is to give it a listen yourself.
Just make sure you go appologize to your neighbors for all the dancing noises and shouts of "whooooooo" that they might hear emanating from your abode during playback.
Snowden, my favorite "unsigned" band, is now signed! Check out the press release HERE. The lucky suitor, Jade Tree, will be releasing the Atlanta band’s debut Anti Anti in the near future. Snowden’s m.o. in the past has been lots of cool swirling guitars sounds and shattering sonic effects- at times a tad proggy and even shoegazey (Stones Roses, HUM and Radiohead come to mind) but backed with the kind of songwriting you expect from a tried-and-true singer-songwriter. The more recent material I’ve heard rocks a little harder, especially on drums. I look forward to seeing what they do next. Leadman Jordan Jefferies and his bandmates will be appearing at the label’s SXSW showcase March 18th. Check out a sample of their new work:
Snowden: "Anti Anti"
a couple of years ago i met snowden at their show at plaid. since then i’ve become an even bigger fan of their music. last year i was all "labels…please sign this band!" and now, FINALLY, a label has discovered how awesome they are.
anyway, congrats to jade tree for taking on this band. their new song gives me goosebumps:
antianti.mp3 – snowden
ps: jordan will be in town in a few hours so if you see him buy him drinks or something (he’s the one on the right in that still. which is from a short clip of them in the studio that hopefully preston will post, b/c it’s hilarious.)
Tonight I realized that it is painful as hell to wear heels and walk to a venue where you plan to stand for three hours. I’ll tell you what wasn’t painful, though, and that was the Snowden performance I got to see at the end of a long walk to the Drunken Unicorn.
I’ve really been digging the new tunes they have posted on their MySpace site, and I’ve heard them a couple of times at the past couple of shows, but after spending my day catching up on them, I was very ready to hear them performed again.
Tonight was a different kind of show in so many good ways. The smoky and dark room of the Drunken Unicorn was almost bare before Snowden went on, but by the time they took the stage, it was hard to find a good spot to view from. There was definitely an anxious crowd as they all settled into their normal positions, and the veterans in the room were surprised to find an added body to the foursome. That added body was Kyle Dreaden of Jil Station, who has been rehearsing with Snowden on the side.
People are normally skeptical of a change in the show they’re used to seeing, but personally, I think it’s a keen move on the band’s part to explore other ways of presenting music, and from asking around, everyone agreed with me. Kyle was there to give added support to Jordan Jeffares on the keyboards and on the majority of the vocals, and judging from the reaction of the audience, it was a good move. Fresh off a mini tour through Philidelphia and New York, I think this was the best performance I have seen from Snowden, granted I’ve only seen them about four times total. The sound was perfectly on target, making it easy to pump the energy from the drunk group dancing (we’ll just call it dancing) up close toward the front of the stage. I saw this group as I entered the venue, and they weren’t even aware there were bands playing tonight, so I know by the end of the night, Snowden had at least six new fans, though from the murmur, I found out that the number is higher than that.
The vigor of the band was enhanced by the combination of Jordan’s mad guitar shredding and Kyle’s slick dance moves. It’s plain to see how this collaboration came about. During my new personal favorite, Anti Anti, there was a ton of movement around me as well as on stage. I’m sure it had something to do with the change up in tempo that’s thrown into the song so beautifully. I’m certainly hoping that I get to see this magnificent alliance happen again, since I walked away with a smile on my face at what I was able to view and listen to for about forty minutes tonight.
Snowden’s self-titled EP is awash with ’80s style synths and echoing lyrics reminiscent of The Cure or Joy Division. Also mixed in is a considerable Radiohead influence. But, if an artist wearing their influences on their sleeve is something that you can easily overlook, Snowden’s debut EP does not disappoint. Snowden is more than mediocrity riding a wave of current rock fashions. Jordan Jeffares’ songs reveal themselves slowly, but patience is rewarded with some impressive songwriting drenched in melancholy. Repeated listens yield an onslaught of intricately laced guitars and keyboards that drive like a heavy rain behind Jeffares’ lyrics.
Yesterday, DCist ventured out into the rainy evening to catch Atlanta-based Snowden and local band Cartel perform together at the Black Cat’s back stage. We’ve long been fans of Cartel — you can read an earlier review and interview with the band here — and the buzz about Snowden had filtered down to us from New York and beyond.
Turns out that passing some time with these two bands was the perfect way to spend an otherwise dreary night. Both groups have a similar style, with polished melodies, soft, almost melancholy vocals and a sound that seems like it came straight outta England in the late ’80s/early ’90s instead of Atlanta or the District in 2005. Comparisons from Curve to the Smiths wouldn’t be far off for either Snowden or Cartel, and listening to their dreamy, guitar-driven songs was a pleasurable way to pass a Tuesday night. The crowd that filled the Black Cat’s backstage seemed to heartily agree.
Before seeing the show last night, DCist’s Mike Grass had a chance to speak with Snowden’s lead singer, Jordan Jeffares. Read on for his thoughts on everything from how Atlanta has influenced his band to beer bongs.
DCist: One of your quotes in the Under the Radar Winter ’05 issue really struck us:
"Some of my favorite music, when I’m going back to listen to my stuff to burn CDs and A&R people or for bloggers, is the slow melancholy stuff and that may be a sign that Snowden needs to move toward those things because that’s what makes me happiest to listen to and to write. There isn’t the pressure to impress with that music. There isn’t that pressure to open up people’s ears and concert and make them stomp their feet. For me, I’d rather that people were falling asleep to my music, than doing a beer bong to it."
As we’ve been listening to Snowden the past week or so, we find ourselves enjoying it at home in the evening, just chilling out. You say that the melancholy stuff makes you happiest. Do you think that your approach may shift in this respect, or is the mood we see here going to frame your work in the years to come?
Jordan Jeffares:I guess the big thing I struggle with is being unsigned. When you’re unsigned, your music almost exists solely in a live setting … this is especially so for us. Though I’ve released the EP and the 7” I won’t release anything else without label support. Thus our live shows are an extremely important part of what we are right now. I’ve written a lot of stuff that we just can’t or won’t do live because it’s too soft to be received by most audiences. Nine times out of ten we are battling to capture or to demand attention from an audience that doesn’t know who we are. It’s hard to win strangers with melancholy stuff live. It’s easy on an album, but live … to reference Radiohead, I feel like we have to do “the bends” before we can do “amnesiac”.
DCist: You got your start initially in Athens and then in 2002 moved to Atlanta where you really got down and dirty putting together Snowden piece by piece. How did this move shape your music? Are there any characteristics of Atlanta (or Athens) that may not be evident to an ordinary outsider that comes out in your music or influences Snowden as a band in any holistic sense?
Jordan Jeffares: The move didn’t really change the music although I slowed down a good bit in my writing. In Athens I wrote in a vacuum. No band, no practice, no hassles of performing. In Atlanta it became the business of being in and running a band which is quite time consuming. Something I’ve been trying to harness lately about Atlanta is the feeling of sterility that I feel here. The city is truly a business city where you drive in, work, and then leave. There are very few communities in the city where you can go for a walk about. You have to drive everywhere. Athens meanwhile is like summer camp. It’s small, but it doesn’t have all of the hassles of Atlanta.
DCist: In a related geographic note, Rockpile magazine wrote that listeners of your music can "marvel at the fact that such well crafted, faux British dream-pop could come out of Georgia." How do you react to something like that?
Jordan Jeffares: We’ve been sort of guided in the direction of a “brit” sound by both what we are and what our press has continued to lean towards. As for our sound, if the brit thing means nothing more than we don’t play riff rock, then I’m happy passing it around. And “coming out of GA”, people generally wouldn’t expect our type of sound to come from the southeast, and that’s fine … it’s good to stick out and some would say that we really do.
DCist: What do you think of the D.C. music scene? Is there anything specific that attracts you to build a listening base in the nation’s capital? Where else would you like to tour?
Jordan Jeffares: I think DC is an incredible city. It voted 90% against Bush, you have great media outlets, an active public, cool communities. I’ve never researched the DC scene any further than being a big dismemberment plan fan and knowing there was a big punk scene there once.
I’d really like to tour Europe one day.
DCist: This is open-ended. If you could pick three adjectives that describe Snowden’s music, what would they be? If you have to place emphasis on one of those adjectives, which one would it be and why?
Jordan Jeffares: Conflicting; Delicate (sonically, I’m big on layering and arrangement. Overall it relates to how I write and think about every part of the music. I rarely see my stuff as done, yet some songs have been analyzed and deconstructed over and over.); Therapeutic
After opening for indie rock sensations the Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, it was only a matter of time before the Atlanta-via-Athens, Georgia group Snowden got picked up by a prominent independent label. Last month the three-year-old quartet signed on to Jade Tree Records, home to such names as My Morning Jacket, Alkaline Trio and legendary hardcore pioneers Lifetime. The fuzzy guitars, echoic vocals and lofty keyboard rhythms of Snowden’s self-released debut EP got the group recognized in Atlanta, earning it the title of "Best New Local Act" in 2004. But after several years of recording and performing down south, lead singer and primary songwriter Jordan Jeffares began leading his band up north to New York, where Snowden caught the eyes of critics and fellow artists alike. Now, with over two albums worth of material to work with, Snowden is planning the release of its first full-length, Anti Anti, which is slated to hit stores this summer. Citing "Everything" as its influences and resembling a punk version of the Strokes, Snowden will likely have the masses tapping their feet to Jeffares’ melodic, yet sometimes monotonous crooning and Chandler Rentz’s tight drum beats. And if you can’t wait until the summer to get your first peak at Snowden, check out "Like Bullets" and "Anti Anti" for free at www.myspace.com/snowden.
Snowden. Atlanta four-piece Snowden are not to be trifled with. The group takes seriousness seriously, as evidenced by its slow, caustic tales of lost loves and broken dreams. New wave guitars mesh with that infectious lock-step drumming the raver kids adore so much, resulting in a hybrid sound that’s neither too derivative nor too quirky. Lead singer/guitarist Jordon Jeffares’ moan is formidable, at times recalling the Cure’s Robert Smith – that is, if Smith were a Southern boy.
Snowden: S/T (Independent, 2003)
Hailing from Atlanta Georgia, Snowden have released an incredible debut S/T EP. Drowning in sound and aggressive percussion, Snowden writes songs that have elements of The Cure, Jesus and the Mary Chain, and the Psychedelic Furs mixed with modern dream-pop and shoegaze influences. Fuzzed out guitars and keys playfully dance around Jordan Jeffares’ powerfully charismatic vocals. Not only is the musicianship great on this disc, but the lyrics are thoughtful and thought provoking.
Snowden’s S/T release begins with “Victim Card.” This song begins with a mid-tempo beat that has a “clapping” feel to it and really gets your feet moving, if you know what I mean. This song has strong political overtones, but I can’t quite make out which direction those political comments may go. Perhaps, Snowden is calling us to action instead of crying “victim” all the time. Jordan Jeffares’ vocals call the reader back to Jesus and the Mary Chain, The Psychedelic Furs, and Robert Smith of the Cure. This is a pretty straightforward pop song, but it has fuzzy guitar elements along with some interesting vocal levels to it. “Good News” begins with guitar ala the Cure during their Head on the Door era. This turns into jangly guitars full of reverb and chorus. Again, the vocals recall the greats of the 80’s. This song is infectious and really sucks the reader into this disc. This is a fast paced song with aggressive bass work, percussion and glittering guitars. An “A” type early style goth-rock song with slight mixes of modern indie-pop mixed in.
“Chin Up” begins with beautiful acoustic guitar work and the vocals are more akin to the Beatles or the Beach Boys. They are breathy and float over the acoustic guitar like a ghost floating over a cold, snowy day. It’s beautiful and listful. One thing I really do love about this band is their lyrics. They are strong, pointed, beautiful and yet somewhat mysterious. “Kill the Power” begins with fuzzed out, dissonant keys and then goes into bright guitars and a great groove with the percussion and bass. This track has the feel of every awesome, driving 80’s brit-pop band. There are points where everything drops out except a bit of fuzz, vocals, and percussion. The guitars and bass move in and out of the mix. This is the sort of song you drive down the street with your windows down and you stereo turned up to 10. “Chin Up” is followed by “Come Around,” which is more subtle and moody. The guitars are spacey and soaring with sparse percussion in places. The keys play a major role in the feel of this track. They really accent the sound and bring subtle nuances to the feel. There are “windy” drones laid under this track that really bring a shoegaze element to the disc. “Anybody Else” starts with soft piano. This is a primarily vocal with some beautiful, subtle guitar and key elements added. This track really showcases the charisma of Jordan.
I would say that this disc has all the right elements. There is creativity and all the right influences coming into the mix on Snowden’s S/T disc. I highly recommend you check them out!
So I came across this band Snowden the other day, and their E.P. is beautiful. I have a certain affinity for NY Bands, and even though these guys are from Georgia, they are worth a post all their own. Even better, you can get their E.P. for free at their website. What is it with such incredible E.P.’s from these new artists. Its so exciting to see these bands take care of every aspect of the recording, to the mixing, and right down to the distribution. It shows. It shows their passion, care, and work ethic. No need for record companies anymore. Well, not at the beginning at least. I’m taking this class on Constructing The Record Company and it’s really opening up my eyes just to how ridiculous the whole process is. It’s all about the hits. It’s all about the money. Music as art? Please. It’s solely a business for these people, they could care less if you can change the world with one chord progression.
The best E.P.s I’ve heard recently:
- The Upwelling: The Upwelling
- A Brief Smile: Memory Loss
- Snowden: The Snowden E.P.
- The Perishers: The Perishers: Sway
- Ryan Adams: Love is Hell Part 1 & 2
Go to the Snowden website and download the E.P. Trust me. They have a pretty nifty website as well. These southern boys know how to do it. And if you HAD to only download one, or want to give them a shot, I recommend "Chin Up." I put it on repeat to fall asleep to last night. It’s that good.
CD: Snowden EP
Song: "Come Around"
Listen to "Come Around"
The average vote for this song is 3.32
"When I wrote this song I’d been writing the music on this EP my entire senior year at University of Georgia and had decided not to apply immediately to grad school but to live out my musical dream for a while. I was thinking a lot about how jaded people become as they grow up. I remember being wide eyed and optimistic about the world and people when I started college, but like most I changed. I became skeptical of everything from western consumer culture to the idea of true love. The song was a snapshot of the turmoil in my head: the cynic I saw in myself and others and the careless kid I wanted to be again."
– Jordan Jeffares (Snowden)
“One of these days, I’m gonna get organized,” Travis Bickle muses throughout the film Taxi Driver. While Atlanta-based group Snowden might not boast Robert DeNiro in a starring role, it’s fun to picture vocalist Jordan Jeffares hunkered down in Travis’ scummy NYC apartment, on an unhinged solitary quest for discipline and purpose amid the human sickness surrounding him. “When I was in Athens writing all of the music, I did it alone, in my bedroom at night,” he says. Let’s hope he wasn’t also modifying guns and planning an assassination, but with song titles like “Kill the Power,” who knows?
Snowden’s reverberating post-shoegaze sound draws on usual influences The Cure, Interpol, My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead, but its music bears a striking resemblance to James, a great band largely misunderstood this side of the Atlantic who scored here with the ’90s alternative anthem “Laid.” “Kill The Power” would fit nicely alongside James’ Millionaires album, kicking off with a Stone Roses beat and featuring clanging guitars and keyboards that recall Brian Eno’s work with Heroes-era David Bowie, in the late ’70s. “One thing I take from James is the ?°»epic movie ending’ power some of those songs concluded with,” Jeffares says. “I rarely write about love or romance. I try to think about the human condition and how overdramatic we are.”
Jeffares started Snowden in hip music epicenter Athens, Ga. (home to REM, B-52’s, and the Elephant Six bands, to name a few), but a crushing breakup and disenfranchisement from the local scene caused him to relocate to nearby Atlanta. “The Athens scene is its own little world. It is very, very cliquey. If you’re a cute girl, you’re in instantly. You really have to have an ?°»in’ to be introduced to all of those people, then on top of that you have to have some really organic stuff to win them over,” he says. “They are very separate from Atlanta and they seem very proud of that. They support their own.”
(Hey, what’s the point of creating outsider art if you can’t be lonely, alienated, and pissed off about girls?)
Key to the group’s identity is Jeffares’ Billy Corgan-style benevolent dictatorship, — writing, and in most cases recording and producing, the music on his own. In Atlanta, he recruited a series of musicians to perform the songs live. “It was tense in the beginning,” he says. “Some musicians accept it and just want to rock out. Others try to accept it and find out later that they are really unhappy being just a musician in the band and not a writer. I wrote all but one guitar riff of all the current stuff on my own. I really don’t enjoy working that way, but I have a very strong musical vision that doesn’t really allow for too much dissent.”
While Friday marks Snowden’s first Pittsburgh performance, the band currently enjoys considerable buzz in NYC and slots in CMJ top-30 lists at several college radio stations. “Lately we keep getting more eyes on us,” Jeffares says. “Everything is in New York.” Catch them now before they do a ton of pull-ups, go on a killing spree, rescue Jody Foster and become heroes. Be forewarned: Snowden’s getting organized.
Snowden "Kill The Power" – Hats off to Snowden, for pulling off about five or six different "oh man, what song is that from?" indie-rock moves in this four-minute song without seeming dull or overly derivative. There’s a nice driving, physical sensation to this song, mostly due to some particularly strong Steve Shelley-esque drumming and the good compositional sense to build the song’s dynamics around that percussion part. As with Loto, Snowden’s debut doesn’t sound like a fully-formed band, but this song (along with a fantastic cover of the Zombies "Time Of The Season" available on their website) proves that they have the chops and songwriting skills to eventually evolve into something far greater.
The theory of a cool band name being as important as cool cover art strikes again – and in this case Atlanta’s Snowden have both. A mix of Cure-Joy Division-insert brooding band here with just a dash of youthful optimism, I was completely blown away when I first heard this after grabbing from a quite large pile at Pianos – ‘cuz of the name. Then I booked ‘em for a show. Life is fucking sweet.
And even sweeter is actually getting to see and hear said band on their first foray of what is sure to be many (hello, CMJ!) into the City. I was asked the other day how I would describe the music of Snowden – and on the spot in .32 milliseconds I blurted out "Joy Division meets Dawson’s Creek!". Does that even make any sense? Well, in my mind where each of those things represents highest art of the nth degree I guess it does – the kids of Snowden make dark music to make puppy dog eyes to. Lead singer Jordan’s got one of those voices that is just begging for an arena rock stage to showcase it on. That, combined with their next door vibe has already got people talking and no doubt will have even more doing so as they hear them.
Comparisons to bands such as Sigur Ros and The Cure are usually tools of over zealous rock journalists who feel they must over hype the band in question so that they can come off as a modern day Lester Bangs. We all can’t be the guy pretentious enough to champion The Stooges’ Raw Power as the elixir to rock and roll during a time of Hall and Oats and The Carpenters now can we? Now what happens when a band actually does merit such comparison? Either they’re kitsch and mediocre because they come off as imitation – or they’ve actually done something more akin to standing on the shoulders of giants.
In the case of such giants, Atlanta, Georgia’s Snowden actually does deserve such accolades. Their self titled record’s opener Victim Card opens with an echoing guitar that single handedly turns the atmosphere into a chilly terrain while Jordan Jeffares soft vocals cut in and out like a lone voice in the bitter wind. Good News has him channeling the spirits of Pornography-era Robert Smith. Lines like it used to break my heart but it doesn’t anymore which at many points sound worn out in other forms, sound fresh and new in this format. Not to say that Snowden is inventing a new wheel here, but they sure are bringing an old model back into style. Kill The Power seals the deal in concerns to their bid to be heirs to The Cure’s proverbial throne. As blasphemous as that may be – it’s actually closer to the truth then many cynics might think. A solid effort that makes Snowden to The Cure as Allan Aguirre’s Spy Glass Blue is to Bowie.
Snowden are one of the hot new bands from Atlanta. At least, if you believe the internet hype, that is. I have yet to catch them in concert, which is weird. They keep playing The EARL on weekdays, and i don’t think i have ever seen them advertised as playing on a weekend. And yet, they get gobs of Album 88 radio play, and that is where i first heard them.
At first listen Snowden seem to have come from the 80′s, with chiming guitars, prominent bass riffing, thudding drums, and gaspy, vaguely mopey vocals. But listening closely, the production is much clearer than anything from the 80′s. Ah, i thought on first listen, one of the NYC "New Wave Revival Bands". Cool enough, i like that scene. Then suddenly the WRAS DJ comes on and says that this band is from Atlanta, by way of Athens. Weird.
So, a good Atlanta band that i have never seen. Why aren’t these people playing out with eNTERTAINME.nt or The Orphins or The Liverhearts? Oh well, it’s only a matter of time until i catch them live. And at least they have an EP out, which you can download for free from their website or order the physical CD from StickFigure. There are 5 songs that come on the self-titled EP, and one additional tune on the website.
The music of Snowden is very 80s influenced. Most of the songs feature prominent bass, which often carries a melodic line to counter the chiming guitars or the piano riff. The voice is what really gives it an 80s feel, i think. Vocalist Jordan Jeffares has a slightly deep voice, and his pronunciation is slow and clear, which comes across as vaguely mopey. At times his voice reminds me of Ian McCulloch, The Chameleons vocalist, or the singer in Icicle Works. There is also, at times, a hint of Jason Molina (Songs:Ohia) in the mix, just a hint really. Jeffares has an interesting voice, and i think it works well with the musical accompaniment.
My favorite tune on the EP is Kill the Power, which has a funky keyboard riff, a great beat, and crunchy guitars. It is somewhat typical of the New Wave Revivalist genre (see also: Interpol, eNTERTAINME.nt, My Favorite), but is one of the finest examples of the genre. It starts somewhat slowly with a heavy distorted keyboard riff, then the guitar, drum, and bass come in, and groove along under a faint haze of distortion. It grows and grows, and is consistently catchy. Good News is another rocking tune. It grows nicely from a bed of chiming guitars, funky rhythm, and drums. It blossoms with a lovely wordless vocal bit over the rock out jam at the end of the song. I like that one as well. On the other hand, Victim Card, is a pretty typical New Wave rocker. It’s not bad, but it pales in comparison to the other songs on the EP.
Come Around is a slightly less rocking tune. Piano drives this one along languidly, in no real hurry, but backed up by competent bass, drums, and guitar. I guess this is a ballad. At any rate, it’s pretty darned good. There are two folkish numbers: Chin Up, built out of sparse acoustic guitar, and Anybody Else, which features a prominent piano melody and the band singing in harmony. Both are nice enough, i suppose, but do not sound as spectacular to me as the other material on the EP.
The EP is very worthwhile, but there is a bonus track available for download off of the Snowden website. It’s a cover of the old Zombies classic Time of the Season, and is amazingly cool. Okay, it’s a great song in the first place, but they do it very nicely, which just makes it even better. It’s built out of silly vocals samples ("chick-chick-ahhhhh" looped as a rhythm element in the background), thudding drums, overdriven bass, and distorted voice. It’s kind of faithful to the original, but takes it to a new, noisier place, especially when Snowden drag things out a bit at the end, with extra distortion and longer guitar bits. Very fun.
Overall, i am impressed with Snowden, and have firmly placed them in the list of bands to look for.