Back when I was a youngster on Long Island, my parents would drive me up and down Sunrise Highway, a painfully cliche corridor of strip malls, supermarkets, and fast food joints that stretched on for miles along the south shore. I worked at its malls, ran its red lights, and often high in the parking lot that once housed the Massapequa Tower Records.
I look back at those days, now 14 years removed, with the same bit of fondness reserved for past life memories; the growing haze of passing time has romanticized these late-teenaged years. Nevermind the beat-up Dodge I drove, nevermind the crazy person I dated, or the shoe store I worked at. I think of Sunrise Highway now and it fills me with the warmth of youth, reckless abandon, and the blissful ignorance of not knowing the fuck any better.
That’s a bit of the mindset of the new EP from a troika of dance maestros coming together under the Sunrise Highway moniker. The hazy past in this case is the late-’70s glory years of disco; something no one in the camp of singer Amy Douglas (Feints, SPF 5000) and producers Tim Wagner (33HZ, Dither Down Records) and Nick Chacona (Mood Music, XLR8R Magazine) was old enough at the time to fully embrace and experience.
It’s that romanticism coupled with detachment that makes the trio’s sterling debut EP, out today via the Tensnake’s label True Romance, both a nod to the past and a push forward to future sounds. Call it post-disco, new-disco, whatever — at its core are uber-slick dance music productions that instead of thumping you over the head with untz seduce you with the sly sounds reserved for summer beach parties at Fire Island.
“The soul of Sunrise Highway stemmed, really, deeply, from the desire for both Tim Wagner and myself — both people who get off a lot more from songs than sounds ultimately — wanting to go back to this place where we could write these tight pop songs and for Tim to equally find pleasure in conjuring up production that inspired him with the same intent as our joint songwriting process,” Douglas tells Vanyaland. “Tim and I are song geeks, we’ve had thesis paper level discussions about ‘What A Fool Believes’ for example, or ‘He’s So Shy’ and we wanted to write these funky, concise sophisto-pop tunes. I always say it’s sorta like what would happen if Steely Dan and Chic could intermarry.”
We’ve already over-played Song Of The Year-contender tracks like “Some Kinda Fool” and “Pick Up The Pieces” on VanyaRadio, and expect this entire package to be one of our go-to records of the Summer of 2014. This is what it sounds like to be alive, to be retro and futuristic, and to look back on your previous lives with a wink and a smile.