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Delicately anthemic

Really Old Airplanes creates a layer of warmth that might help you survive the winter

REALLY OLD AIRPLANES: A cure for crappy winter days. Photo credit: Stan Brewer

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"Tokyo Police Club was coming to town, so we wanted to make this poppy sound," says Really Old Airplane's Keagan Smith. "If you listen to our first EP, it's really poppy. We wanted to open for Tokyo Police Club, so we thought we'd try and write songs like them."

This is some unusual honesty. Smith met the rest of Really Old Airplanes at SUNY Oneonta, a college in New York. When they heard that a band they loved was coming to town, they decided the best strategy was to start making music like that band, in the hopes of opening for them and getting in good with the band. Something about this is strangely sweet and ultimately very relatable to anyone who lives their life as a lover of music. If I had musical ability, and if I could write songs, and if other people would play music with me, and if a favorite band of mine were coming to town (admittedly a lot of ifs), I'd probably do the same thing.

After the band's first EP, however, Really Old Airplanes started to refine its sound. On the debut LP, there are elements of European folk, straight-ahead indie pop and occasional flairs of power pop. All of these elements are imbued with a warmth and clear intent, which creates an album of delicately anthemic songs. The vocals are not flawless, but gentle and restrained, and the harmonies are similarly glowing and subtle.

"We got really into the Beach Boys and the Smiths," says Smith. "We wanted to make something that sounded really nice, melodically. We have tons of Casio keyboards on a lot of the songs. ... The way we write songs is that someone will record a demo, and then everybody starts adding on, on their own time - not as a group. Which is a little different than most bands. Even though we're in the same house, we just don't do it together, because we like that way that things have of forming."

For how orchestrated Really Old Airplanes is, it's an interesting moment when the band incorporates more lo-fi techniques. For instance, there are a couple songs on the band's debut LP, Forgotten Sadly, and Broken Ends, where songs are led by a simple line of percussion likely produced by a Casio. To hear the warmth radiating from that core of straightforward clicking is a pleasant reminder of the steps taken to build up a song from its most primitive roots.

Really Old Airplanes moved from the East Coast to Seattle in September. It's possible that they may still be acclimating themselves to our gloomy winters, which stretch on into seemingly endless nights and interminable months, sucking all life and energy from those who fail to see the light that will eventually come to pull us out from under the clouds. While you wait out these harsh months, you'd be wise to take solace in bands like Really Old Airplanes.

Really Old Airplanes

with Books and Covers and the Mural Project
Saturday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., $5 donation
The Den @ urbanXchange, 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

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