Local music: Strangers In Daylight

  • Photo by Jeffry Konczal
From the July 19, 2012 edition

Phil Palma subscribes to the “keep it simple, stupid” school of songwriting. Strangers In Daylight’s singer, songwriter and guitarist trades in snappy rhythms and catchy hooks with minimal frills.

“That’s where I come from,” Palma said, citing pop-rock heroes from The Kinks to Spoon. “I like the less-is-more approach.”

He’s not alone. When his friend Jamarr Mays stumbled upon Palma performing original songs at an open mic three years back, he was stunned and insisted they start a band. With the addition of Mays’ Pirate bandmate and former DJ partner Michael Murtha on drums, they had themselves a power trio. (Producer Marc DiCenzo recently joined the live show as well.)

Their instant camaraderie translated into fun-first rock ’n’ roll unburdened by pressure to become famous or blaze new trails.

“If you end up thinking of your favorite band when you hear us, hooray,” Murtha said.

Their philosophy, like their songwriting, is simple: This is a band by friends, about friends, for friends. Every aspect of debut album “Letters of Transit,” from the engineering to the cover art, was done by friends of the band.

It’s not that they’re shooing away success — they want as many people to listen as possible — but in a world where 75,000 physical albums are released every year (not to mention countless digital releases), Strangers In Daylight believe music should be more love than labor. The internet isn’t some golden ticket to fame and fortune.

“While it’s leveled the playing field, it’s also widened the playing field,” Mays said.

With that in mind, Friday’s release party with band pals The Receiver and Psychic Wheels is designed to be a blowout bash, not a launchpad to stardom. Strangers In Daylight have a 19-song setlist planned, with all the songs from the album plus loads of newer material.

“There are going to be balloons,” Palma said. “Lots of friends, lots of balloons, lots of photographs being taken.”