BOTW: Blue Skies for Black Hearts

Music Features Blue Skies for Black Hearts

Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Fun Fact: Singer/songwriter for the band, Patrick Kearns, sings backup on a host of records he’s produced, including albums for The Nice Boys and Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons.
Why They’re Worth Watching: The band is the solo project of one of the Northwest’s most prolific indie producers.
For Fans Of: Josh Rouse, Youth Group, The Blue Van

Bands fall apart. Sometimes they wither as a result, but sometimes they grow. When Patrick Kearns’ relationship with his drummer disintegrated, the future of his band, Blue Skies for Black Hearts, was uncertain. With the rest of his regular lineup on tour with other bands or on vacation, Kearns called upon his friends The Nice Boys, whose debut album he produced last year, to help him, and his sound, grow. The group tracked six songs in three days for the third Blue Skies for Black Hearts album, Love is Not Enough.

The record is a decidedly upbeat pop offering with traces of Motown, Phil Spector and Village Green-era Kinks, (right down to a song about a cat). The individual tracks of guitar, electric piano, backing vocals and mellotron are carefully layered, while lyrics like, “Whatever happened to the good old days/ AM radio and roller skates,” practically scream “retro.” But the immediacy with which Love Is Not Enough was made also gives it a fresh sound that oozes revival more than imitation. “With a Rubber Soul” is a dark, brooding number featuring intricacies such as a Spanish-style guitar loop, haunting vocal harmonies, and foreboding lyrics that warn, “Here comes the falling of the leaves/ Don’t ever let them ever steal your dreams.” Kearns, a self-taught producer, regularly blogs about his engineering stunts, which include recording himself dancing a softshoe and sweeping with a broom.

“I’m not into sitting around with my computer and constantly tweaking things in order to get a certain sound,” he explains. “I get the sound in my head and then I try to go find it. I’m not someone who sits around and tinkers until I find something I like.”

Kearns claims that he got into producing “by total accident” when a friend left a 4-track at his house. He is now a busy man, working on albums for several Northwest bands. “There’s nothing more satisfying to me than making a good record, whether it’s mine or somebody else’s,” he gushes. “Hopefully I’ve contributed to that collection of great records.”

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