After We Are Augustines achieved commercial and critical success with their debut album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, they found themselves grappling with a unique problem: what now? When you've painstakingly molded an earnest album that sheds light on so much pain and anguish, an album that also just so happens to have created a voracious following, what's the next step?
Reinvention. The rock act altered their name, saw the world and wrote another album. This time it was a self-aware act of celebration rather than catharsis.
"The working title for the new album was 'Now You Are Free, '" Augustines guitarist Billy McCarthy told Stereotude. "It's kind of a meditation for the whole album." That newfound freedom is evident on the new record, with sweeping chants and pulsing joy throughout. "The new album is kind of like this arrival, like 'Hey, I don't have to be dragged down by this stuff,'" said McCarthy.
During Augustines' recent visit to the West Hollywood haven, The Troubadour, they offered up liberal helpings of this buoyant optimism and blatant euphoria at what they've achieved, as well as where they're headed next.
The album's first single, "Cruel City" is something of a love letter to New York, featuring glorious African flourishes, and a music video shot in the streets of London. Catch all that?
"That song is really talking about New York City changing. It's changed quite a bit," said McCarthy. "It used to be such an available place for artists and it's gotten so gentrified and expensive, it's almost turning its back on artists. And the song is kind of likening the city to a woman."
Multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson and McCarthy have both been fans of African music for years, so when it came time to write the new album, Augustines incorporated the nuances of African rhythms and harmonies into several songs, lending this Brooklyn-based outfit a more personified international sound.
"I traveled to Kenya during the writing of the record. I spent time in Nairobi and Uganda," said McCarthy. "What's cool about it is that you don't always understand the lyrics, so you're more present with the music."
Check out the video for "Cruel City" below: