Volleys is yet another pandemic project, but with a twist. Play it blind and you’ll swear they’re a living, breathing band with skinny-tie new wave influences. Actually it’s two friends from Dallas / Fort Worth: Takis Nahatis and Dustin Nulf shared “demos, riffs, lyrics, tracks and notes, sending them back and forth over the COVID wall (ergo, ‘volleys’) for review and development.” Nahatis then recorded guitar and vocals in Garage Band and sent the files to Nulf to edit and arrange in Logic Pro X. The three drummers (Christian Dorn, Brian Petry and Kyle Denney) were found through AirGigs, meaning that Volleys took this project seriously enough to have hired guns in their budget. Guests include guitarist Cory Wells and pianist TJ Kuenster. After tests using eMastered, Nulf wound up mastering the album himself.
Volleys say their influences include “Violent Femmes, The Clash, Weezer, DEVO, Dr. Dog, Franz Ferdinand, The Cars (pre-‘80s), Velvet Underground, Cake, Spoon and tons of indie and punk in-between.” The boys are excited about the upcoming vinyl release of this album, but until then it’s available for download on Bandcamp. Following rock n’ roll tradition, most of these 13 songs are way under three minutes, without ever feeling too short.
“Jet Lag” establishes the Volleys humor right up front: “She took my heart to the ocean /Just to see if it would float / She dropped it in the deep / To watch it quickly sink / And that was all she wrote.” I totally dug the retro Knack-Cars vibe and the cool surf rock solo. Though online music collaborations are not rare (certainly not now), I can’t believe these guys aren’t standing on a stage with jet black Beatle cuts and black and white suits. It’s that good. “Chemistry” continues the head-shaking vocals and arch humor with some unexpected changes in the rockin’ beat.
“Girl U Want” is a faithful cover of the Devo tune. Though Nahatis thankfully makes no attempt to sound like Mark Mothersbaugh, the nerdy riffs and retro synths nail that iconic Devo sound. Great sounding drums too, though they might be digital. “Tightline” actually has Devo-like vocals, a tight fast beat and bumble-bee bass. “Snakes” has a jittery rhythm with a Buddy Holly feel to the guitars, as cheesy synth riffs float down from the rafters.
“She Laughs” features fine honky tonk piano by celebrity guest TJ Kuenster, who was Glen Campbell’s music director for over 30 years. Nulfs’ high pitched vocals are a surprisingly good match for Kuenster’s finger work. “1 x 1” evokes Loaded-era Velvet Underground combined with Devo-like synths. “Hesitate” is catchy, upbeat punk without the safety pins. “Outta Control” features irresistible stutter guitar riffs behind a Ric Ocasek-style vocal. This song features a surprisingly spacey ending.
“Come Undone” is not the Guess Who song but has a late '60s vibe and features great diverse vocals and guitar melodies; on vinyl it’ll be a definite “deep cut.” Don’t miss this one! “Half Lady” is the surprise folk-country ending with Nulfs’ acoustic guitars doing a John Fahey stroll into the sunset. A simple farewell from the boys: “Love me in the morning / Take me when you want to please / Wake me in the evening / When our hearts are beating hot.”
Even after a few listens I still can’t believe this music came together from a distance the way it did, and that the songwriting and playing are of such high caliber. Recommended!
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook