It is always a pleasure to work with musicians as they bring new creative projects to fruition. That has been the case with North Atlantic, a newly-formed atmospheric group based in Portland. The 4-piece band consists of Michael Hutchins (vocals, guitar), Abby Hutchins (vocals, keys), Tom Rogers (drums), and Lucas Greco (bass), and we’ve just finished their debut 4-track EP, which they are looking for a label to release on vinyl.
Influenced by the loud/quiet movement of the 90s, North Atlantic’s tunes have a similar aesthetic to Codeine with spacious clean passages that avoid being effect-laden followed by dramatic weighty sections. Also noticeable is their patience for songwriting: the group is not afraid to take 2-3 minutes for a piece to develop, and their understated tempos set a strong mood that is vast and immersive. Playing slowly and deliberately is deceptively difficult, and is an important aspect of that genre, and, in their case, is employed to effectively give drama to individual notes and chords. Their vocals are tightly blended and reminiscent of Low, which had a similar husband/wife power team generating an eerie, full-bodied one-voice quality. The rhythm section is also a perfect fit for this group– the bass player is understated and thoughtful, creating lines that don’t get in the way, and the drumming is moody and sensitive to the varied energy from song to song.
We’ve been honing these songs for well over a year. I had been listening to the final two albums of the British group Talk Talk for a while and they started to have a huge impact on me. The sparseness, the melody, the contrast between subtle nuance and abrasive texture. They made me want to start playing music again. I had played in a few instrumental rock bands in Boston, Chicago and Portland starting in the mid 90s to 2003 then got married built a house and a family, started my career and found little time for music. The fire has been reignited and I couldn’t be happier. I came home from work one day and told Abby I wanted to start playing music again, but I didn’t want to play what I’d been playing in the past. I wanted piano this time. Some digital elements. I wanted more conventional song structures and I wanted to play in a band with lyrics. It hadn’t hit me that I was married to a classically trained pianist. When we started playing in the dining room one night in the Fall of 2015, I knew the rock guy and classical girl would make a good musical match. It took a while for Abby and I to put the final group together–we auditioned at least 5 drummers before we found Tom. We couldn’t be happier with the work Acadia did in representing our sound.
When North Atlantic came into the studio they were aiming to preserve a live-sound feel for the record with clear crisp room presence. Their EP features two quieter songs and two rock tunes, which really showcase the tone and range this group can produce. We’re hoping to hear a lot from North Atlantic in the next few years, for now, be sure to check out their first live show on Jan 13th at Urban Farm Fermentory, where they will be playing with Tall Horse, Crystal Canyon, and The Great Depression. You can also take a listen to the first tune released from their EP: