Originally from Lafayette, the now New Orleans-based pop band Givers gave 18 months to crafting their lush new album, “New Kingdom.” Writing and recording took place in rented homes in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, as well as Parlor Recording Studio in New Orleans and Dockside Studio in Maurice.
Exploratory, but still melody- and hook-based, Givers will play their local album release show Wednesday at One Eyed Jacks.
Glassnote Records, label home of international acts Mumford & Sons, Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club, released “New Kingdom” as well as Givers’ 2011 album debut, “In Light.” Reaction so far include Stereogum’s judgment that the album is “vocally rich” and NPR’s assessment that it’s “full of sonic wonders.”
Work for “New Kingdom” followed three years of Givers touring, including the international festival circuit. Givers’ songs appeared in several TV series and commercials, including “Big Brother,” “Glee” and a Nokia phone ad.
After the prolonged road work, singer-guitarist Taylor Guarisco, singer-percussionist Tiffany Lamson and trumpeter Josh LeBlanc took a much-needed break.
“No record talk, no tour talk,” Guarisco said a few weeks ago at Parlor Studio. “Just got by the fireplace for a few months. And then we got back to it.”
“New Kingdom” features luxurious male-and-female vocals by Guarisco and Lamson, prominent electronic keyboards and the group’s signature smacking percussion. Givers’ year-and-a-half of work for this all-important second album contrasted greatly to their “In Light” sessions.
“The first record was a really fast-paced experience,” Guarisco said. “We were a newborn band, and it all landed really fast. We just did it.”
The “New Kingdom” sessions also followed a serious reevaluation by the band of its musical identity. There were “a few months of losing perspective of what we thought we were,” Guarisco said. “We developed a new approach, but we still knew we were capable of this forward motion with a perpetual groove. We kept that, but we also went to a bunch of new places.”
Those explorations required more thoughtfulness, as well as time, than “In Light.” Guarisco simultaneously hears more emotion and more buoyancy in the grooves of “New Kingdom” than in the band’s album debut.
“We had to make sure we were carving these new places out in an honest way,” Guarisco said. “We were the same band. but we’d gone to a different planet. This is how our band sounds in that planet’s atmosphere and gravity.”
Honesty in performance is another quality Givers seek. On stage, Guarisco and Lamson are intensely physical performers.
“We’re not into the idea of looking ‘cool,’ ” Guarisco said. “The more of ourselves we lose, the more the song comes to life. We try to get out of the way and just let the songs rip.”
Lafayette native Guarisco, a New Orleans resident for nine months, said his new city of residence is a great place to be an artist.
“I love Lafayette and the people there, but I’ve got great things happening in New Orleans,” he said. “Like getting asked to play a recording session today with a bunch of really awesome people I respect. In the creative realm, there’s something in the air that’s always vibrant and kicking in New Orleans.”
One of New Orleans’ favorite sons, Dr. John, makes a guest appearance on “New Kingdom.” His mystical spoken-word performance appears in “Sleeper Hold,” one of the album’s funkier tracks.
“Yeah,” Guarisco said. “My earliest memory of a live music experience is Dr. John in Lafayette. I must have been 3. I have this vision of a guy playing piano and my mom dancing. I was thinking, ‘She is so happy. She must love this guy.’ And my mom does love that guy. So I’ve always had Dr. John in my heart and in my life. He’s like a super force.”
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