Music doesn’t feel so much like a business to Evan Slamka these days, and the Los Angeles singer-songwriter likes it just fine.
With his new quintet Square on Square, Slamka has emerged from three-plus years of personal reflection and creative regeneration that followed the dissolution of Majorie Fair, which released one excellent album (“Self Help Serenade”) for Capitol Records before sinking into the major-label abyss. The music on SOS’s forthcoming five-song EP, “Spectrum of Love,” brims with the same keen melodicism and British Invasion shading as Slamka’s previous work, except now everything — from arrangements to themes — seems larger than life.
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“The first album was built out of a different psychology — it was kind of a mood piece for people, an introspective kind of record,” he says. “I’d like to think this is more of an evolution. … It doesn’t sound as much like I’m listening to my own perspective; it’s broader. Musically and lyrically, it has more of a universal appeal.”
Marjorie Fair had its appeal too — first in Europe. “Self Help Serenade” was released overseas in 2004, and the band did well, but the album didn’t come out in the U.S. until more than year later. “By that time, everybody was pretty exhausted,” Slamka says. “We never quite got the support in America that we’d hoped for.”
He wasn’t exactly broken-hearted when Capitol let the band go in mid-2006. “Our original intention was to be a grassroots band and take it one gig at a time,” says Slamka, acknowledging that was not how the music industry worked at its highest levels. “So I was looking forward to how I could start from scratch.”
Slamka favored a cautious approach, so he took his time, met new people, played in other folks’ bands and dallied in production. Eventually he convened with producer Joey Waronker (who drummed on the Marjorie Fair album) and began recording new compositions.
Now he’s collaborating with an ace lineup that includes bassist Michael Orendy (Frankel), guitarist Brian Whelan (the Broken West), keyboardist Jesse Spring and drummer Jerry Porter. “It was very organic how it came together,” Slamka says. “I think we’ve found the right chemistry.”
Square on Square’s as-yet untitled album is virtually completed — except, Slamka says, for the seemingly inevitable last-minute agonizing. “It takes two years to make an album,” he jokes, “and another year to figure out which songs will make the cut.”
||| Live: Square on Square performs tonight at the Echo as part of Decembering With Buzz Bands LA, which also features Helen Stellar, KAV and Nightmare air.