You won’t find the slightest trace of indie tricks – no fuzzy reverb, glitchy beats or laptop wizardry – on “I Want Us to Be Remembered,” the first EP from Los Angeles quartet A House for Lions. “That’s not who we are,” singer-songwriter Daniel Norman says. “It would come off as false.”
Instead, Norman’s partnership with guitarist Mike Nissen, keyboardist/bassist Eric McCann and drummer Felipe Ceballos favors classic songwriting, with the frontman’s crystalline vocals prevailing sweetly over arrangements bearing a faint hint of Southern-fried pop. Think Ryan Adams meets Snow Patrol.
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The songs – a couple of breakup tunes and a couple more marking Norman as a writer wrestling with his sense of place – emerged in the four years since he moved to L.A. from North Carolina to pursue acting. “There’s been work, but it hasn’t really been that artistically edifying,” he says, adding that some of the music is informed by “being in L.A. and trying to figure out why it’s important to be an artist.”
In that way, A House for Lions’ straight-ahead approach works. “I come from the South, where people like things simple, rootsy and direct,” Norman says, describing himself as a “’90s radio kid.” “These are the first songs I ever wrote, so it’s not like I’m going to be Sufjan.” His musical heroes, no matter their sonic aesthetic, are songwriters who “project a specific point of view … who have a sense of purpose that unifies their music.”
The quartet’s EP, which was produced by Raymond Richards, already has gained a modicum of notice. It reached producer Jacknife Lee, who’s working with the supergroup Tired Pony (which includes Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Richard Colbern of Belle & Sebastian), and led to A House for Lions’ landing a gig opening for Tired Pony at the El Rey Theatre in October.
“We were all smiles up there – we couldn’t bring ourselves to be cool and serious,” Norman says. “It was a great experience. Even just to watch guys who are serious pros in soundcheck was incredible.”
||| Live: A House for Lions performs a free show tonight at the Echo as part of Kitten’s residency.