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If you plopped Arthur Russell into early 90s Manchester among The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, you might end up with Oakland, California’s Believers. Wesley Powell, the artist behind the project, throws a myriad of influences from krautrock to house to shoegaze into a pot and boils them down into some version of pop. Languid vocals drift atop layers of plinky guitars and synth swells, all of it undergirded by heavy bass riffs and drum machinery.
“Piecemeal”, the third release from Believers, is a transitional record that both marks the end of the collaborative era with brother Tyler Powell and welcomes the next with Wesley going it alone. On this album, he nestles a variety of nuanced subjects from materialism and globalization to aging and depression into dense stacks of intertwined rhythm and melody. What comes out is something welcoming and accessible, depicting that particular sense of melancholy that time and disillusionment instill.
The album kicks off with the up-beat, driving force that is “Savar” featuring busy drums and atmospheric layers of guitar notes ringing out for eternity. Another highlight on the album includes the track “What Hands”, with melancholic vocals, snare ghost notes for days, and wonderful guitar patterns complemented with lush echoes. “Endless Choice,” the second-to-last track on the album and the latest single for the album’s promotion, starts off with rhythmic sounds before settling into a groove. It asks questions about our society and all the options that we have these days.
“Piecemeal” is available on streaming platforms October 14th. Check out the following exclusive interview with Believers and Big Takeover!
-What’s the meaning behind the title “Piecemeal”?
My writing process is fairly fragmented, songs often come together over the course of months, sometimes years. A piece of a melody here, a riff there, a lyric there. I slowly assemble them, collage like, until a song appears. The title reflects the process by which both the songs and the album as a whole came together.
-Wesley, you mentioned this is the first release where you aren’t collaborating with your brother, Tyler. How has the process been putting the album together on your own?
I’ve always primarily worked alone, so it’s familiar territory; I put out some solo material as Husk a good while back. Even when Tyler and I were collaborating as Believers, we were still fairly siloed for much of the writing process, and would only collaborate at later stages of development to add parts, help mix, and arrange.
-You have a lot of influences, from krautrock, to shoegaze, to pop. How do you find a balance when blending all of that together?
I can’t really say, it more or less just happens. What I’m listening to or thinking about while working on a song will guide my ear to favor certain tones, rhythms, and melodies. I’m just attempting to make what I want to hear, but it’s really up to the listener whether it’s connecting.
-What’s next for Believers?
I have aspirations to blast out another album in the next year or two, a healthy handful of songs is tiptoeing toward completion. But, frankly, it’s getting difficult to make the time. In this exploitative economy where lower to middle income folks are getting squeezed harder and harder, we’re forced to really hustle to keep up. All that said, I’m still holding out hope that I have a few more records in me, I’ll just have to be really intentional about creating space for it.
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