by Colin Stutz on September 21, 2006
SILVERSUN PICKUPS—with their fuzzed-out My Bloody Valentine-meets-Smashing Pumpkins debut, Carnavas—could easily be mistaken for a gang of studio urchins. In reality, the L.A. foursome spent years gigging around the hipster-clogged Silver Lake neighborhood before approaching a studio. "I saw a guy at one of our shows passing around a bootleg CD, and I asked him what it was," recalls Pickups frontman Brian Aubert. "He said, 'It's you.' I was like, 'Wow, can I have one?' He gave me a copy, and I was horrified. It was awful. I thought, 'Oh, shit, I guess it's time to actually record—ready or not.'"
TAPES AND TAPES It wasn't the first time a shabby recording led to a breakthrough. About a month after forming the band in 2000 with bassist Nikki Monninger, her then-boyfriend and Aubert's ex-girlfriend ("People called us the Fleetwood Mac of Silver Lake," says Aubert; the exes have since left the band), the singer sent a song-free, boombox-recorded demo to New York's CMJ Festival. To the Pickups' shock, they were invited to play. After a chance encounter in New York with Mitchell Frank—owner of the Silver Lake club Spaceland—the Pickups were offered a gig. According to Aubert, Frank's offer was based solely on the fact that the band members were regulars at his bar.
SOUND The Pickups unabashedly worship at the altar of fuzz: In addition to the overt Valentines and Pumpkins influence, tracks like "Melatonin" recall the Pixies' guitar squall, and the band cribs the Velvet Underground's narcotic washes of noise on "Future Foe Scenarios" and "Lazy Eye." Carnavas' first single, "Well Thought Out Twinkles," has already become an indie-rock fave with its Dorothy-in-Oz switch from monochrome to Technicolor. "We like really big, loud, fuzzy, warm music," says Aubert. "So when people say we sound like My Bloody Valentine, we can't believe it." COLIN STUTZ
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