The Haunts: Welcome to the Garage

by Alexandra Hall

I used to never understand when music people threw around the word “garage” when describing their sound. I mean… is it supposed to sound like the lawnmower that hasn’t been touched in ten months? Make me think of the smell of gasoline and dirt dragged into the cracks in the cement? Is it supposed to strike me with that foreboding feeling of a bunch of lurking insects waiting to surprise-crawl up my leg? 

That is… until I was introduced to The Haunts. Then, the whole “garage” shpeel started to have some substance. 

And you can trust me, there is no gasoline scent or creepy crawlies associated with their tunes. 

If you so much have smirked to The Strokes’ melodramatic vocals or the delightful angst of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at any point in the past decade, you’ll likely enjoy the sound that The Haunts have to offer. The Haunts have a way of approaching that novelty early 2000’s indie sound with a fresh flare. Their self-described “surf garage rock” has a charming personality that pays a tribute to the past scenes of indie while keeping up with the fast-paced tempo of our current times. From “Kids in the Streets” to “Feign Desire,” the Haunts have a poppy and vibrant tone that seems to leave listeners bobbing their heads even after the Spotify Shuffle has run its course.

Los Angeles’ The Haunts have the “garage” sound because their sound feels like home, and yet just far enough away from what we know that the space feels both familiar and unique. Their surfy drum beats and electrifying reverb seems to radiate off of mental cement floors in our heads. Tuning in feels like taking a trip down memory lane that still seems to wind its way into the future. 

Duo Alanna Swadlow and Aaron Brotman initially started writing music together and after a few months, introduced musician Max Collier to collaborate and form the group. This is where the group ends, but the inclusivity just begins. 

After a year of writing music together, the trifecta released their self-titled debut EP in 2019, a four-song collection with a bedroom wall style cover riddled with photographs and posters that perfectly showcases their taste for a nostalgic sound with new wave tones. The true soul of the group stretches beyond funky covers and the EP, though. 

Drummer Alanna Swadlow says, “The live shows are the best part. We get to tune into the audience and since there’s only three of us, we can communicate quickly on stage to keep things fresh.”

Self-described as “minimum members, maximum sound,” The Haunts thrive in three. The collaborative team thrives not only in songwriting but also in smooth communication on stage. With a fewer number of members, they can switch up speed, rhythm, and order with a few quick glances and under the breath muttering. The group is tightly knit with an openly woven pattern that invites the audience, whether through headphones or on stage, to join in with their stitching.

Guitarist Aaron Brotman says, “The vibe of The Haunts is really the live show… everyone is sweating and dancing. The songs are just an invitation to come out and share time with us.”

Now more than ever, that invitation is being put on hold. In “uncertain times” and nearly every other platitude regarding the current global pandemic, it is hard to remain in good spirits, especially for artists. While most of us have the privilege to stay inside and do our best to flatten the curve, the “inside life” has begun to get a bit dull and dreary. 

We are turning to art to give us answers, hope, and comfort. The promise of live shows and sharing those intimate moments between artist and audience is relying more on hope than ever. 

In an attempt to remain connected with their audience and spread joy through their music, The Haunts is releasing their new single “New Mexico” today, May 1st. With their signature spunk and magnetism, “New Mexico” holds the same electricity as The Haunts’ live shows and is a sort of time capsule of the current hysteria as well as a three-minute oasis.

“Anyone who has seen us live knows ‘New Mexico.’ We wanted to release it now to remind people of what is to come once this is all over. It has a different sound than our older songs, so hopefully, new listeners like it just as much,” lead singer and songwriter Max Collier says. 

Just like the rest of the world, The Haunts are taking the future one day at a time. With no way how to predict how “New Mexico” will do or the likelihood of new releases, the group is headed forward with as much positivity and hopefulness as their songs hold. Listeners, no matter how lost, can be sure of The Haunts’ ability to modernize that beloved 2000’s indie and bring us home to their garage. Once again… zero insects allowed. 

Until next time,

Rocka out

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