(2016-present tense)

Anvil of Love was originally a side project started by Jamie Scott Blair and Steven Vallone that they worked on between recording sessions for another band…

In 2019 we set up Sun Mountain Studios in an industrial building in Ridgewood, Queens with the dream of creating an inclusive arts space that included a mostly analog production studio.

The bulk of this album was recorded to four-track cassette at Sun Mountain Studios with some additional parts recorded digitally at our home studios.  Synthesizers featured on this album include the Roland Juno-60, the Microkorg, the Kurzweil PC1X, and the Korg Monotribe, which also handled the bulk of the sequenced rhythm tracks.  Traditional instruments, such as piano, electric guitar, effects pedals, bass, and snare drum were also used extensively.  

We hope you enjoy listening to these tracks as much as we enjoyed recording them.

SIDE A:

FAR FROM ME

If you want an effective chorus toward the end of a song, do like we did and yell at the walls incessantly at three in the morning, but in some kind of rhythm.  Our neighbors probably thought we were insane…

This one was fun to create and record.  Bare-bones electronic percussion, synthesizers, multi-tracked vocals with live processing, and lead guitar result in a singular approach to a classic that we believe has never been done before… recorded and mixed in one marathon session at Sun Mountain Studios.

FLAT ADHESIVES

What started out as an accidental keystroke that caused a YouTube video to have its audio backtrack at a random moment became the motivation for taking an unflinching look at obedient longshoremen and eagle wings.  Soon, the wing will need to be repaired again. 

SAN TROPEZ

Why sing an entire song when one verse says all that needs to be said?  Rather than try to recreate David Gilmour’s’ iconic slide guitar solo with our instruments, we opted to sing it, and then added some down-sampled guitar for that 8-bit feel.

SUN MOUNTAIN

An obscure, relatively unknown masterpiece would surface decades later and receive a whole new lease on musical life.  The multiple voices and analog synthesizers during the middle all seam together in some kind of floral euphonic gold.  The best part was performing this live with a singalong at a church in Greenwich Village.  This song will take you to church, all right…

TO BE AN ANVIL OF LOVE

We firmly believe that in order to be a legitimate band, one needs a legitimate theme song.  The basic track was recorded to MIDI in Steven’s bedroom one sleepless evening and then Jamie provided an inscrutable narrative drawn from life and fantasy, inspired by our close friend Ryan Brown and his observation that he was “an anvil of love in a world crushed by hate”.  We finished this track with guitar, some found (and created) spoken-word vocals, and some haunting, wordless harmonies.

SIDE B:

SCIENTISTS

This song shares a backing track with a piece entitled “When Will it Be?” from Steven’s solo album, “Songs From the Serpentine Shape”, which was recorded at the same time we were making “Going to the Movies”.  Jamie added vocals and lyrics drawn from his experience as a psych lab test subject during his darker days, and Steven radically remixed the track to accommodate Jamie’s urgent pleas to the scientists.

JINGLE

This track began as a demonstration of the then nascent Sun Mountain Studios analog recording capabilities, and was set to found YouTube footage of an infinite zoom on a Mandelbrot Set animation.  It was originally recorded entirely on Steven’s Roland Juno-60 with some bells and rhythm guitar added.  Later – much later – it became clear to us that it needed Jamie’s patented vocoder stylings and melodic lead guitar in order to be complete.  We like to think that this jingle completes us, and all of you as well.

GREY SKIES OVER ELLENVILLE

Near the site of a recent family reunion lies the ruins of the once-famous Nevele resort.  Layered drunken choruses build and build until finally, no one is bad at singing the theme song handed down from past generations.  My uncle, your grandmother, Andre the Giant – what’s the real difference, anyway?  A deceptively simple yet compelling piano chord progression lays the groundwork for true resignation to just accepting your loved ones for who they are, so long as you’re not cast off as “middle of the road.”

After all, each new layer of pavement on the street brings us one step closer to heaven.

For the core of this recording, Jamie provided snare drum and arpeggiated guitar, Steven layered bass, organ and piano on top, and then about twenty vocal tracks were recorded and mixed in.

Lyrically, Jamie drew from memories and reflections related to past family reunions, superficial workplace culture and even the bizarre, ironic relief of incorrigible roommates gone AWOL. Special thanks once again to Ryan Brown’s contribution of the line “waiting for a train, in Pawling, in the rain”, something we actually once did!

UNTIL I DIE

Brian Wilson’s masterpiece. Our vocal arrangement of this song does not stray too far from the original, whilst the music takes Steve Desper’s 1998 mix as its jumping-off point. Among the covers on this album, this one seems closest to evoking the somber, existential mood of the source material. This was a bold choice for a cover, but one we feel is a lasting tribute, and not just a “faithful reproduction”. 

I AM NOT A SANDWICH

When we meet our heroes, are we happier when they turn out to be everything we thought they would be, or when we just imagine them to be what we would like them to be, if only to one day find out that they’re not that?

This song is about recognizing what you’re not and then – by process of elimination – knowing what you are.

A staple of our live performances both before and during Anvil, we probably performed this song a few hundred times in a few hundred different versions.  For the album, we chose to touch up a live version, recorded direct to two-track in our old basement studio at the peak of our powers that we felt best exemplified a canonical approach to this song.   
The writing session for this song was quite spontaneous; friend of the band, Chris Vallone, played eight chords from the standard Autumn Leaves in a loop, while Steven and Jamie improvised wild piano and vocals.   Arguably the first time our combined creative impulses co-incidentally captured lightning…in a sandwich.

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