Venice-based pop band the Morning Yells give a free show at the Redondo Pier
By Bliss Bowen
The eye-catching cover image of “On the Lash,” the newest album by the Morning Yells, shows a youthful figure running into the wind, draped in a sheet with only calves and feet visible in the sand. The photo was shot by keyboardist/photographer Jacob Boll in the desert, not on the beach that has inspired the Venice-rooted pop band, but it captures a feeling of sunny, in-the-moment freedom characteristic of their music.
“It was never intentioned for the cover of our record until we ended up talking about old Pink Floyd record covers, how they’re so simple but striking,” explains frontman/songwriter Phil Stancil, who anchors the band with guitarist sister Laura. “We wanted something like that.”
The Stancils moved from their native Michigan seven or eight years ago to Venice, where Phil still resides. “On the Lash” is their third album, after 2016’s “Mood Rock” and their 2017 EP “Proper Wilted.” Released in May, it shimmers with harmonies, guitar fills and swelling melodies reminiscent of the Mamas & the Papas and 1960s-’70s Laurel Canyon pop. Songs like “Oh My My,” the intoxicating “Halfspeak” and “The Runner,” with the Stancils’ sibling harmonies drenched in reverb over guitar leads sparkling and rolling like waves, offer reason enough for a windows-down cruise up PCH.
Laura steps forward to sing lead on the hazy “Off the Rails,” which adds a country-dusted dimension to the band’s music and calls for more of the same.
“Absolutely,” Phil agrees. “We are doing that more. She writes a lot, but whether she’ll push a song into the band’s space or not is up to her. We have another new song of hers that we’ve doing live, ‘Radio,’ and we’ll probably track that too. It’s a really great tune.”
This Saturday the Morning Yells — the Stancils, Boll, guitarist Trevor Smith and drummer Scott Shelko — perform a free concert at Redondo Beach Pier. Phil says they plan to mix material from their albums with selections from a “big batch of new songs.”
“I play a lot of 12-string, and it has a lot of the same kind of vocal harmonies,” he says. “But it’s maybe a little more upbeat. Our keyboard player, Jake, wasn’t really there until about halfway through ‘On the Lash,’ so I think having him playing the synth adds another dynamic layer that takes songs in a little bit of a different direction.”
“Make Fire” underscores his point. Boll’s keyboard helps shape the rhythmic architecture of the tune, which glows with a California pop dreaminess akin to some of the most memorable tracks from “On the Lash.” Audience response during a recent tour was so positive it persuaded them to not only record it, but to also test drive all new songs live before entering the studio.
They hope to release it next month with a music video, then record another album for 2020 release. A West Coast tour is planned for “sometime this winter,” and they’re talking to bookers about local gigs.
“Doing a whole record is such an undertaking, and we just got done with this one, but we still want to put music out,” Phil notes. “We’ve never really put out singles without a full record behind it, but I think we’re gonna try a few singles without having to worry about a full record, just so we can get songs out there.”
The Morning Yells give a free concert from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 24) on the Boardwalk at the Pier (below Kincaid’s), 500 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Beach. Bring a low-backed beach chair or blanket. Visit themorningyells.com and redondopier.com for more info.