Valley Floor is one man and that man is singer/guitarist Aaron Schmidt. Schmidt originally conceived and wrote all the songs alone and then recorded them in his home studio on a vintage Tascam tape recorder. The reason that Shelters sounds so good has much to do with its star studded post production team. The Shelters EP was mixed at the Northern California studio Prairie Sun Recording, a studio known for mixing records by both Tom Waits and Primus, by Isha Erskine. Some of the other famous names that Erskine has worked with are Kanye West, Maroon 5, and Jeff Beck.
For the making of the Shelters EP Aaron Schmidt wanted to capture a brand new sound, and attempted so by mixing pop soaked indie guitar and vocal melodies with electronic elements such as a drum machine beats along and synthesizers. And even though Schmidt may have fallen a little short of inventing a new sound, the sound that he has created with this record is something to be proud of.
Take for example the second track, “Home” a Springsteen inspired sounding rocker, which builds up as it moves along with hand-clapping drum beats, jangly guitar riffs, and some pretty impressive guitar solo work as well. Though what stands out the most on “Home” are the vocal melodies, which are reminiscent of the Boss, and also the gritty lyrics which contain that underlying of hope.
With that being said it makes the next track, “Supersonic” with its heavy use of synthesizers and drum machine sounds quite out of place. Taken on its own though, “Supersonic” is an eclectic bit of dance pop fun and shows the range of what Schmidt is trying to accomplish with his sound. “Refugee” is another track which see’s Schmidt making heavy use of the drum machine and samples, and also plays with overlaid vocal effects, and sounds much like a throwback to many early 80s electronic-rock bands, with Depeche Mode coming to mind more specifically.
The final track, “Thief in the Night” combines the well-crafted lyricism and builds found on “Home” and combines them with a more modern dance pop feel. Somehow it all works and I feel like “Thief in the Night” may be the exact type of sound which Schmidt is trying to perfect. And although he still has some more kinks to work out, the Shelters EP is a good design to work from.
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