Photo: Violet Teegardin

On Deck: Lunar Vacation

The work of Atlanta band Lunar Vacation reimagines classic indie rock sounds by infusing them with an unpredictable pop heart. Melodic, yet still rough around the edges, their music is often anthemic yet still intimate enough to sound comfortable echoing off the walls of a small venue in their hometown. Singer-guitarist Grace Repasky’s voice is a guideline through this musical morass, providing a persuasive and occasionally barbed encouragement that echoes inside your head for days. Making this noise alongside Repasky is guitarist Maggie Geeslin, drummer Connor Dowd, and keyboardist Matteo, a group of like-minded conspirators digging their way through a dense and fascinating collection of influences.

They shared a new single, “Unlucky“, about two weeks ago, and it’s our first glimpse of their debut LP, which is slated to be released sometime later this year. Filled with compelling melodies riding parallel to spirited guitars and laid back percussion, the track hides some darker lyrics impulses, embracing the darkness of previous circumstances but holding on to a hope that may be waiting just around the corner. They are working with producer Dan Gleason (Grouplove) and engineer T.J. Elias to create a sound that uniquely adapts their communal inspirations, not an easy task given the wealth of experiences and history that the band brings with them. 

Recently, the band sat down for Beats Per Minute and wrote about some of the records which have inspired them and provided a remarkable influence over their work together. Check out their choices and thoughts below.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
(Warp; 2008)

I like this album. I didn’t really get into this band at the first listen, but the music really takes you to a different place. Its got great acoustic guitar across the whole thing. You’re actually there; they create the sounds of a physical space in their songs, like creaking or walking or shuffling around in a log cabin, stuff like that. It really is fitting music for enjoying yourself when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. The drum sounds are so unique, and when they sound more traditional the drum parts are always phrased so well; I love jamming out to the tracks and learning from them. And uhh…the strings are amazing, the flutes and woodwinds also, they could even do a full scale symphony orchestration for this stuff if they haven’t already. They are so good at having the songs build up, Southern Point and I Live With You are some of my favorites. All of the backup vocals just feel like a heavenly choir singing through the trees in the morning mist or something…. so good. And Daniel Rossen totally sounds like he could tell a good campfire story. –Connor Dowd

alt-J – An Awesome Wave
(Infectious; 2012)

It was during my freshman year of high school that my musical perception began to open up, thanks in part to my sister who would play music as she drove us to and from school. I remember when she played “Bloodflood” for the first time; it was a freezing January morning and neither of us wanted to be driving to school. The melancholic mood of that song, along with the crisp and eccentric drumming, echoed something that we were both feeling in that moment. It wasn’t long before I found An Awesome Wave and listened to it in full. I have to admit; I didn’t immediately fall in love with every song. But, by the second or third listen, I was hooked. I had never and still have never heard anything like Thom Green’s drumming on this album. It manages to sound atmospheric and ambient while keeping the songs grounded with beats that are strange yet oddly familiar. As a percussionist, I found it intriguing that all the cymbals most drummers would use are absent in favor of a cowbell and tambourine. Adding to consideration the rest of the band, including Joe Newman’s otherworldly vocals, I found myself listening to the album again and again with a spirit of discovery, trying to hear every nuance and catch every lyric. Despite the clarity of these songs, each one is a world of sound which you can step into and find something new each time. By the time my high school days were done, I had gotten nearly everyone around me on the Awesome Wave, including our band director who arranged two of the songs as marching band performances. An Awesome Wave will always be influential for me as it was the first album I truly appreciated, the first live music show I ever saw, and continues to be my favorite album to this day. I hope if I just keep listening some of its genius will rub off on me… –Matteo DeLurgio

R.E.M. – Murmur
(I.R.S.; 1983)

It seems that every spring I turn to Murmur by R.E.M. right as everything starts to bloom again. The album feels like sitting outside on the porch when its unexpectedly warm and talking to yer friends on a day where there’s nothing to do (heavenly). My parents constantly played it when I was growing up; it feels like it’s always been there. Michael Stipe’s ambiguous phrases floating over the jangly instrumentals feel like a reassuring pat on the back. Or a communal sigh. Lyrics like “Lighted in a room lanky room/Lighted lighted laughing in tune” are still lost on me, but they feel like they make sense! I’ve read a few books on the making of the album and most folks say that Michael’s early lyrics meant “nothing”, which I find makes the songs all the more moving. I also read that all of the strange noises/samples were a one-n-done deal, so if a weird noise didn’t work on the first try they would scrap it. All of this adds up to make an album where you can tell the band is saying something good, even if you never really know what it is. –Maggie Geeslin

The Strokes – Room on Fire
(RCA; 2003)

I think I have the most distinct memories connected to Room on Fire by the Strokes. I remember I was 14 and getting into Is This It, went to a Wal-Mart and found Room on Fire in a $5 CD bin. So, seeing as it was only $5, I decided to buy it and listened to it in full the next day. I downloaded it to my phone and everyday riding to school freshman and sophomore year, I would listen to the entire record. I think I even chose to listen to it when we ran the mile in P.E. It’s all I listened to. Now, I can only hear it in full. After one song, the only way it will sound complete is if the next song plays in order. I remember being so taken with this album because of the lyrics and melody and the way Julian sang and delivered every line like it was his last. The grittiness and how every song flows perfectly together!! I don’t really know how to explain it. It just makes me feel really good and happy about life! –Grace Repasky