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Songs We Love: The Afterglows, 'Angels In The Sunshine Hotel'

The Afterglows.
Courtesy of the artist
The Afterglows.

Philadelphia power-pop songwriters Sam Cook-Parrott and Michael Cantor each helm their own bands: Cook-Parrott is the force behind Radiator Hospital, and Cantor's main project is The Goodbye Party. Both write songs that range from sparse and intimate to lush and joyful, driven by DIY aesthetics and thoughtful lyrics. Now, they're collaborating under the name The Afterglows, with a self-titled album due out later this summer.

In an email, Cook-Parrott says the project came together slowly over the past two years, while he and Cantor were living together and working on records for their respective bands. After realizing how similar their sonic and aesthetic tastes were, they decided to record a stripped-down album of new songs and "a few strays" from their other bands. The resulting album is atmospheric and melancholy; it's less immediately poppy than the duo's other projects, but similarly easy to get lost in, anchored by the interplay between Cook-Parrott and Cantor's voices. (Cook-Parrott says the two were inspired by "Everly Brothers-style harmonies.")

"Angels In The Sunshine Hotel" is the first track the duo is releasing from the new album. It relies on layers of sound that build and coalesce around aching vocals, all built on the repetitive riff lying below. Cook-Parrott and Cantor's carefully executed harmonies help balance the song's bright moments and moody overtones.

Cantor explains in an email that the song was inspired by a story he heard about a tenant in a New York City flophouse called The Sunshine Hotel. The tenant moved to New York to study philosophy and answer life's eternal questions, but an insistent focus on his metaphysical journey made him lose his grip on reality. He ended up penniless, living in the hotel. "There's this idea that as a musician, if you're serious enough about what you do, you'll eventually quit your day job and just try to make it work," Cantor says. "I guess this story was just a dark reminder that it's easy to end up sacrificing too much if you aren't careful."

The Afterglows comes out Aug. 19 on Salinas.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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