New Artist Spotlight: Blunda’s sepia-tinged electro-rock world in search of “brighter days”
Blunda is one of those artists for whom the “New Artist Spotlight” tag is a misnomer, as he’s been making music longer than most YEDM punters have been alive. Beginning young as a classical pianist, Andy Blunda played guitar and keyboard in high-level indie bands. fastball and Palo Alto in the 90s and early 00s. After that, Blunda remained active in Hollywood, composing soundscapes for film and TV until he got the inspiration to go solo in 2014. With a distinctive style in both his guitar work and his production conditions, many listeners may feel like they’ve heard him. before his last album brighter days, even if they know nothing of his solo work; with his long rap sheet, they probably did.
posts was Blunda’s first solo EP and it heralded that distinctive sound with vintage synths inspired by the new wave of the late 80s and compositions that listened to the indie vibes of the same era. The guitar work is all Blunda, however, and in tracks like the title track and “If You Want Me”, this extraordinary guitar work elevates the sound from a kind of indie back to its own ultra ambient indie rock. -cool.
On the shoe gazeAt the edge of dream pop, this unique guitar sound and ambient sound design continued to develop for Blunda in her next EP, 2020 shoot for you, which had a lot more synth and piano work up front. Blunda also experimented more with vox manipulation here in tracks like “Low”. There is also a strong jazzy component to this EP, and Blunda often skirts the edge of adult contempo but lands firmly in the tom is waiting End of post punk because of its tonal structures and compositions that are so effortlessly cool.
brighter days, which released at the end of June, seems to be where Blunda has found a balance for all the different elements of its previous releases. Blunda says he embarked on this project with the intention of capturing the energy of confinement, both the intensity and the unease; the kind of muted vibes as well as the hope for, well, “better days”.
This album was born from the desire to create a space and a feeling that would transport the listener. I found myself hiking tons last year with my son and exploring all these amazing places just outside of town. I really wanted to create something that feels like you’re in all these wide open spaces. Especially after all the confinements of the last two years.
The importance of outer space in healing is also reflected in how each individual track moves. brighter days, as well as the way the whole album flows. In the opening tracks “Beginning” and “Lost Without You,” this kind of sense of peace in nature, muted and golden hour, is manifested via sound design, composition and vocals. These two are so well done in terms of vibes that they could be put together and simply called “Elysium(not the movie) because they match the tones and feel of the album cover: peaceful, a bit fuzzy and at the same time soothing and heartbreaking.
Of those first two more shoegazey tracks, brighter days moves into the more dream pop side of things via with ‘Belong to Me’ which is a transition track or sorts, ‘Tape Pad’, ‘Ever Since’ and ‘Open’ which are a bit more dream pop pop mixed with post punk, a’la Faded. The penultimate all-instrumental song “Bm” is a nod to Blunder’s now clear love of post-punk, while “Light On” closes the album as it began: the shoegaze peak.
The reason all of these styles are important is the aforementioned journey the album intends to take. It’s also incredibly difficult technically to make this journey with so many styles. Blunda accomplishes this with sound design, soft vocals tinged with grunge and shoegaze and the like, Moogy synths throughout, though the wave of steam at the end of “Light On” is a fun surprise. His technical mastery is fully displayed with brighter days as does its musical EQ, creating strong emotional reactions with every track, whether vocal or not. It may be strange to say, after nearly 30 years in the business, that brighter days is Blunda’s seminal work, but given its strength, it might actually be true. Here’s hoping he continues to create even more vivid soundscapes from here.