Youve really got to hand it to Argyle. While so many of their brethren in the local band scene are content to record no-budget CDs using home computer software and Radio Shack mics, or and this is sometimes only a marginally better methodology blow a small amount of cash on a road trip to Charleston or Atlanta with the express purpose of spending two or three days in a real studio and hoping for the best, this intriguing rock group took an entirely different approach.
Avoiding the quicker/cheaper/faster philosophy which permeates most of the underground music world these days, they turned instead to the classic rock and reggae groups of the 70s and 80s for inspiration, and decided much as those folks had done back in the day to take as much time as they needed to make their all-important debut album, regardless of time or money.
That meant spending untold hours over the course of more than 6 months to track, overdub, mix and otherwise finesse the 10 original tracks on Puzzled, the first proper release on their own indie label, Imaginary Friend Records.
That dedication to quality control and artistic vision continued on through the rest of the manufacturing process, from mastering to packaging design, and its that dedication which helps to set Argyle apart from almost every other original Savannah band of the past decade.
Bassist Rob Stephens says when it came to their first real record, presenting the group in the best and truest light possible was of paramount importance.
I think it just takes time to make a reasonably good first album. Years ago if we had tried to make one we probably would have been permanently categorized into being a jam band, which we are not. So we waited. Yes, in ways we have been held back because of not having an album, but I really don't know what that album would have comprised of. Now we have enough material to easily put out a great second one.
Guitarist Jeremy Riddle concurs.
We've produced 3 demos before recording this CD. I think we weren't
solid enough until now. I'm glad we waited, so that we could put out a more polished and professional album.
Engineers Kevin Rose and Jason Anderson cut the album at their Elevated Basement Studios. Rose feels the band made the right move by waiting till now, and by putting their best foot forward.
Argyles one of the hardest-working bands in town right now, he offers. Every step of the way they tried to push their limits. They even hired Dave Collins to master the album. Hes worked with everyone from Sublime to Black Sabbath to (Oingo Boingo leader) Danny Elfman.
Oddly enough, those three extremely different artists actually embody many of Argyles off-kilter influences.
Initially pegged as a jam-band due to their Humboldt-friendly image and penchant for elastic song structure, the group has honed their love for ska, reggae, punk rock and improvisational jazz fusion into something of a trademark sound that is every bit as uneven as it is cohesive. The group can (and will) shift gears from a laid-back Jamaican dance riddim to a punishing metal-tinged bridge, or a wailing guitar solo over a driving backbeat.
Its the kind of thing that fellow musicians and serious listeners get a big kick out of, but that by and large radio and MTV dont have too much use for.
Guitarist Jason Sutton says hes unconcerned about those hindrances.
Corporate music all kind of sounds the same. I think that people are going to want something different eventually.
Jeremy adds, I'm not worried about having some huge corporation pushing us. Our works sells itself. Fans are spreading the word of our live shows.
Rose thinks that with a little luck and a strong grass-roots marketing push, this album could do very well.
I think its a really neat product. Its as diverse as I guess it can be, and these guys deserve to succeed.
For the time being, Stephen Riddle says the band will work even harder now that they have a finished product but they wont try to reinvent the wheel.
The overall game plan is the same as any other freshman band on the road. Hit as many towns as possible as many times as possible. Push the album and put on a top rate show in every city.
Rob Stephens agrees, and says he cant wait to start touring in earnest.
We have played too much in Savannah. It's all about the world now.
Argyle plays an ALL-AGES CD Release Party Friday at Locos with reggae act Ras Knouth & The Knots, and The 8-Tracks.