There’s an unspoken truth that Memphis bands will face serious obstacles if they don’t fall under the garage-rock umbrella. Aside from Lucero and the now-defunct Lost Sounds, Snowglobe is one of the city’s only groups to establish a respectable local fanbase without ripping off the Oblivians or self-consciously adhering to a three-chord, T-shirt/jeans/Converse amateur-hour aesthetic.
“People fell into two categories in Memphis,” says singer/guitarist Brad Postlethwaite. “They either didn’t know what to think about Snowglobe or they were really excited that it was something different.”
In Snowglobe and other outfits, Postlethwaite, bassist Brandon Robertson, drummer Jeff Hulett and horn player Nahshon Benford have played together since high school. Like most extant bands that began as acolytes of the Elephant 6 collective, Snowglobe is a very different animal in 2006, seven years after its formation.
“The band actually had two beginnings,” says Postlethwaite. “One around 1999, right before we moved to Athens, Ga.; the other two years later, when we moved back to Memphis and Tim Regan and Jeff joined.” Regan, now living in Knoxville, Tenn., was a distinctive songwriting presence on the band’s previous albums, 2002’s Our Land Brains and 2004’s Doing The Distance. He was absent from the creative process behind 2006’s Oxytocin (Makeshift Music) but is set to return for the next album. Oxytocin finds Snowglobe at the apex of a homespun-yet-ambitious pop that recalls both ’70s concept albums and hints of Stax.
“I was listening to the Kinks’ Arthur and Sam Cooke,” says Postlethwaite.
“We all kind of got into ELO out of nowhere,” adds Robertson. “I’ve been influenced by homier tones for my bass parts, like Neil Young and older country.”
With Benford’s deft handling of all things brass and woodwind, the presence of string arrangements and Postlethwaite’s tendency to cram two or three massive hooks into each song, Oxytocin is a maximization of pop with personal warmth.
“We had some hiatuses, but Oxytocin has gotten more attention than our previous albums,” says Hulett. “I see 2007 as a time when we get back into the studio with Tim, knocking out an album in a decent amount of time.”