Burnt Ones

Since 2009, Burnt Ones have been torching San Francisco venues and house parties with a glittering pop sensibility and a distinctive fusion of garage rock/pop and psych/punk elements. The band gave us something to really sink our teeth into with their 2010 debut LP Black Teeth & Golden Tongues, solidifying themselves as a rock and roll force to be reckoned with and prompting everyone who listened to consider exactly what genre their warm, fuzzy sound qualified as.

It certainly sounds like pop, but pop that exploded under the weight of its own gritty reverb and trembling tremolo textures. It could definitely be rock, but rock infused with 1960s ooh la la las. And it could even be punk, but instead of abrasive shout-singing we get the microphone love-making vocals of Mark Tester. With each new release, Mark and his band mates Amy Crouch and Brian Allen have only expanded their project’s multifaceted sound.

Burnt Ones contributed their newest tune “Strawberry Tomb” to Castle Face Record’s Flex II: Son of Flex along with some of the Bay Area’s finest, including The Mallard, Thee Oh Sees and our reigning Prince of prepared sounds, Ty Segall. The track certainly sounds like Burnt Ones, but the three-piece outfit keeps getting better by never allowing themselves to become complacent with their latest offering. Opening with a screech before giving way to a shuddering guitar and Mark’s familiar, sweltering vocals, “Strawberry Tomb” steadily makes its way to a hip-swiveling riff that hits its stride about two-thirds through the song, accompanied by a clap-your-hands rhythm section and ushering in a ringing guitar finale. You can purchase Flex II: Son of Flex through the official Castle Face website, or just the single track via Burnt Ones’ Bandcamp page.

Fresh out of the recording and production phase of Burnt Ones’ second LP, Mark took the time to share some details with us about the upcoming album, You’ll Never Walk Alone. Expected to be released sometime this spring through Burger Records, the album was recorded between March and December of 2012, along with “Strawberry Tombs,” though the track does not appear on the record:

It’s somewhat of a departure from our last record (duh, everybody says that). Apart from the classic r’n’r drums, bass, guitar and vocal formula still making up the bones of most songs, it doesn’t feel to me like a rock record or a garage record or a psych record or a glam record or whatever else people have said about our other records to make them more digestible, so I guess that’s good.

Burnt Ones went with a DIY approach and self-recorded the entire album in their practice space and various apartments, mostly on quarter-inch tape. “We used virtually every instrument and sound at our immediate disposal to record it, without much consideration going in to how we would play any of the songs live,” explains Mark, who seems to have allowed himself to get lost in the process.

Recording it was similar to the feeling you get when you walk into an unfamiliar dark room and you’re looking for a wall to grab on to for balance or guidance, specifically the moment between entering the room and finding the wall.

Filled with very human emotions — specifically, “overarching themes of detachment, want and loneliness from personal and impersonal perspectives,” You’ll Never Walk Alone will make for an intimate album, hopefully offering some insight into Mark’s songwriting prowess.

“To put it plainly, the record is way more personal to me,” he admits, “In that I spent a lot more time working on it than probably anything I’ve ever done in my life, from the writing to the recording process.”

The eloquence with which Mark describes his music and music making process mirrors the calculated ease of his genre melting songs, and if You’ll Never Walk Alone holds the same transparency found in these few short comments, we can expect a sincere album that speaks to inherent human emotions.

Keep an eye and both ears on Burnt Ones this year. The new records doesn’t even have an official release date yet and already the band is working on new material: “Now that this record is done we’ve started writing for the third one, which I’m expecting to have by the end of 2013, and also expecting to be quite different from even this one.”

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