Michigan-based indie-soul group The Erly are becoming known in the music scene for combining sonic elements from the ’60s and ’70s rock, pop, and funk and creating a fresh “Modern Disco” sound and vibe of their own. This unique sound is evident in their new album Culture Fever, a diverse 11-track record featuring tracks steeped in Jazz-Rock, Disco, and Soul.
The four-piece ensemble takes listeners on both a sonic and lyrical rollercoaster through the realms of female empowerment, mental health struggles, identity, and several other complex themes woven into the record. Culture Fever boasts a total of 11 captivating tracks featuring vocals from each member of the band – including Alyssa (keys), Collin (bass), Trevor (guitar), and Fran (drums). Like a breath of fresh air, the album transports listeners to the nostalgic aura of the 1970s and represents the kind of music that makes you want to take the long way home on a warm summer night. Guitar-driven Jazz Rock tracks like “Flame the Main” and “Faces in the Attic” were written to tackle unsettling feelings of resentment, addiction, and avoidance coping. “Take it As it Goes” and “Tracing Circles” reflect the sentiment of yearning for something more in everyday life. “Paralyzed” and “Somewhere in My Mind” bring culture and soul into this record, throwing it back to the iconic Disco era of the 1970s. Rounding out the LP with some down-to-earth melodies, “The Right Way” and “Red Roof Inn” tug at the heartstrings with smooth rhythms and harmonies.
Fran Gleason, the drummer for The Erly, was kind enough to sit down and walk us through a track-by-track description of the record detailing some of the inspirations and stories behind each track. Read below for an exclusive inside look that is only available here on V13.
1. “Flame The Main”
“The intro track to Culture Fever that invites along the listener for a wild ride, much like the album. A jazz rock record with a catchy hook that’ll make you wanna hop in the closest car and race down the main drag. This tune holds the line ‘…Yuppies Bangin’ Bongos…’ a lyrical contradiction so good it almost became the name for this album.”
2. “What To Do With You”
“A smooth number that’s just trying to make the best out of a bad situation. The phrase ‘…don’t know what to do with you…’ may sound hopeful, but the lyrical matter on top of the driving instrumental makes it evident there needs to be closure. This is our first record with a leading keyboard line. Though it stays the same throughout its 3 appearances, for some reason, they seem to hit differently each time.”
3. “Tracing Circles”
“This track beckons the deeper thought of whether you’re following your own dreams or someone else’s. Pacing the floor, following the beaten path, and even changing to a different set routine all feels like the same task has already been done. This song rode on the coattails of what the band was feeling in a post-quarantine world. Even though the circle is a simple shape, the complexity of a carbon copy ‘circle’ wasn’t the shape we wanted to run with.”
“The Erly’s attempt at trying something different completely out of irony. This song arose due to the inspiration from songs in the ’80s. A post-disco world fascinated us. What would disco be like almost 50 years too late? Overall, it became a rather paralyzing experience.”
5. “Faces In The Attic”
“A hook of fictional dreaming with the chorus birthed from a midday nap, ‘Faces In The Attic’ created this dark premise of self-doubt within sexual attraction. Cast under a spell of control, the lyricist is kept in a chokehold. There is nothing worse than wanting to be an ideal person for someone, but the fear of chalking up to expectations almost becomes crippling intimidation.”
6. “Somewhere In My Mind”
“Initially titled ‘Culture Fever’ before lyrics were finalized, this was the first track we worked out after our second album, Reckless. A super fun and easily danceable track that has a triumphant edge. Hitting like a freight train, ‘Somewhere In My Mind’ is a place that really wants to relive a serotonin-induced coma.”
7. “The Right Way”
“This was the final song recorded in the studio before the necessary completion of the album. Though it felt good there was a bittersweet feeling juxtaposed between the loving lyrics yet melancholy instrumentation. This tune was over 5 years in the making, much like The Erly’s progression. It was hard not to feel sappy for the nostalgia.”
8. “Red Roof Inn”
“The death of a dream and being able to move on. ‘Red Roof Inn’ catches a couple, romantic or platonic, at the end of their journey together. They grasped a dream so tightly that they lost touch with who they were, falling into a trap of self-destruction. Though this song is heavy, there is a constant undertone of bittersweet closure.”
9. “Where Have You Been?”
“The ultimate feeling of love for another human being. The comparison of being high off someone’s love is easier to compare as some type of drug. Given it’s the only way to reach an out-of-body euphoria, at first use of a new substance, you can’t help but wonder… ‘Where have you been for so long?’”
10. “Take It As It Goes”
“Life experiences become so overwhelming, instead of claiming defeat, taking it as it goes makes life work out better in the long run. The realization that life moves on whether there was an up or down, makes the world not seem so out of touch. Sometimes it takes an eye-opening experience, but we here at The Erly have realized this song was a reflecting check-in on ourselves.”
11. “You’re Heaven”
“With a shout-chorus, a love interest, and a perfect outro to end the album, what single song could sum up the entire album better? This was just as fun to record as it is to listen/ play live. This was the first song we recorded with our producer Nick Rapley, and it clearly set the tone that we had a chemistry worth making an album come to life.”