Pop-rock act emerges from hibernation with two hook-filled EPs
When it comes to songwriting, the Candescents’ Alex Harris is a perfectionist. The singer/guitarist will take a first draft of a song and refine it until it’s exactly right.
“A very important thing with pop melodies is that it sounds right to your ears. Every song gets the sleep-on-it test, and if I listen to it … the next day and it isn’t where I want it, then it’s not right,” Harris said. “Melody is my most important thing. … I’m trying to walk this line between rock and pop — an older genre but in the modern age. I feel like that is the heart of the Candescents, trying to walk that line.”
It’s a tightrope the quartet — Harris, Miguel Alfredo Acero III (drums) and brothers Cody (bass) and Alex von Lehmden (guitar) — ably walks on 2018 EP Riverside Dr. and the forthcoming Grass EP, which the Candescents will celebrate with a release a show at Rumba Cafe on Friday, Feb. 15. Each infectious song beckons listeners to sing along, and they’re all loaded with enough guitars to please rock radio and enough polish to appease the iHeartMedia gatekeepers.
It’s fitting, then, that the two EPs are being released by Dirty Hit, a UK label that’s home to the 1975 and Pale Waves.
The band spent about a month in Los Angeles recording the two EP’s eight songs with producer John Gilmore, which followed a month spent living and practicing in Ventura, California. Prior to that, the four friends, who met at Ohio State about five years ago, were holed up in rural Fort Jennings, Ohio, the hometown of the von Lehmdens.
“[The label and management] wanted us to hide out and write a lot and practice a lot and just try to get really good,” Harris said. “The joy of creating new music is one of my favorite things, so that part was fun. But it could be very isolating.”
Because of that early label interest, the Candescents didn’t cut its teeth in the local scene in quite the same way bands typically do. The four-piece had more of a national emphasis from the get-go, so for the past few years, local Candescents shows have been few and far between. But Harris hopes to change that.
“We really wanna start playing more Columbus and Ohio shows to make up for that a little bit,” Harris said, adding that the band has a new album written and plans to record it themselves. “Also I really miss playing house shows. House shows are so fun. And alcohol is cheaper when you just bring it yourself.”