socal sounds: aunt cynthia’s cabin

Written by Kyle Hauk

The up and coming San Diego based band called Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin is comprised of guitarist and frontman Brennan Justice, drummer Jeremy Luvas, and bassist Anthony Defreitas. The trio has recently released their first EP, Cabin Fever, which features a unique combination of desert rock and lo-fi neo-psychedelica, which creates an almost “spaghetti western”-esque sound.

Some notable tracks from the recent EP include “Western Nirvana”, “Moon Dust”, and “Illusion”. “Western Nirvana” starts with twangy guitar, tambourine, and an overall surf-psychedelic sound. It leads into a four-chord homage to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” shifting styles without sacrificing the unique sound that the band offers. “Moon Dust” is a progressive and upbeat track that consistently wavers between solo vocals accompanied by only bass and shaker, and a catchy surf style guitar riff with a sound which can be likened to the works of Allah-Las. “Illusion” is unique, as it starts off as a grungy lo-fi track that uses diminished chords and powerful rhythmic tones. It then shifts immediately, with a change in time signature and rhythm into a very fuzzy, Ty-Segall sounding psychedelic track with a falsetto-sung chorus.

The rest of the EP continues the unique western surf-psych sound, and provides for an independent feel that most modern surf-rock/neo-psych bands do not offer.

I recently reached out to Brennan via email to ask a few questions about the band.

Q: I was immediately curious about the name “Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin.” How did you decide upon this name?:

A: The name “Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin” sort of evolved from an old band that Anthony and I played together in, called The Twinfins. We coined our sound back then as “back-alley 60s surf rock”, a little blues and garage influence as well. At the moment the band broke up, we had started to delve into some western sounding tunes, stuff that was like a soundtrack to a classic horror movie set in the desert, Anthony and I fell in love with it. Once we all split up, Anthony and I couldn’t drop the sound so we kept writing together and decided to see where it took us. Since we were already thinking of our music as a theme to this Western murder mystery storyline, we decided to name the project after it. Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin came to mind and from there it stuck. Most people we’re like dude, no. But we were like YES!

Q: I’m getting a very surfy vibe from your tunes, specifically the guitar. How would you describe the band’s overall sound?:

A: We try not to pigeon-hole our sound too much, but we all love psychedelic rock although it’s such a broad and blanket term for everything. We love 60’s garage, we love Nirvana and other modern grungy stuff, and we love long tripped-out jams. Our music goes where it wants to and we don’t try to stop it too much.”

Q: The production value of your work is unexpectedly high for self-produced work. What is your writing / recording process?:

A: Although I am the front-man I’d say it’s a pretty collaborative effort on writing/developing all our songs. However, I do all the engineering and mixing behind our music, sometimes it’s a painstaking process but I get through it more easily as I get more practice with it. I’ve always recorded and mixed myself as a one-man band thing, probably for about 6 years leading up to now, but this is the first time I’ve had to record other people, which makes a way bigger difference than I had realized. Jeremy hits the drums differently than I would, different styles call for different gain structures and frequency balance. Same goes for bass. But I love it, I’d totally record more for other bands if I had the time, but I still have to commit time for writing, jamming, playing shows, and even listening to other music. When all that stuff is in an even balance, we are creating our best stuff.

If you like surf rock, psychedelic, lo-fi, grunge, or any wholesome tunes, Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin is definitely worth a listen.

Check them out here:

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