Whilst the tongue-twister of a name The Super Saturated Sugar Strings may be a challenge, there is an undeniable easy warmth to the music of this Alaskan indie folk outfit. It’s the warmth of friendship, good cheer, and the kind of community needed to make it through the bitter isolation and hard winters in the 49th state. Based in Anchorage, the Sugar Strings are a beloved institution there, packing sweaty bodies together in small halls under neon light to dance into the night. Just take a listen to our Song of the Day: All Their Many Miles, also the title track of their new album.
They shared the following on the song: All Their Many Miles is a song of revelry. A true-to-form lovesong, Miles was written to commemorate the voyage from love-at-first-sight to marriage of my best friend from childhood, Danielle Spector, to her partner, Marco Perez. I travelled many miles from my home in Anchorage, AK, to the place of my birth in the Northeastern US in order to officiate their wedding. Written on a Megabus en route between Philadelphia and New York City, the tune was a homage to the many miles -both emotionally for Spector and Perez and physically for me- travelled to celebrate the love we share in life.
On their new album, ALL THEIR MANY MILES (release date: March 23, 2018) they’ve managed to translate not only the high energy stomp and swing of their live shows to the studio, but also to capture some of the magic that brings together Anchorage’s music community. A windswept town on the edge of the Alaska ocean, Anchorage has a remarkably robust music scene, one characterized by unconditional support among bands and wildly passionate audiences. It’s a model for other scenes and an idea that’s catching, and The Super Saturated Sugar Strings aim to bring that kind of human connection to the rest of the states, as they begin touring nationally. On stage, you see this kind of egalitarian, open communication directly among the six band members as they freely swap instruments, sometimes more than once in the same song. They gather around the drum in the centre of the stage, with band members jumping in and out of the seat, joining together in harmony, swaying back and forth as they blast out their horn lines. The music they create seems cinematic at times, drenched in strings and horns and bombastic ideas. This is Alaska, where nobody does anything small, so this roots band’s take on modern Americana is full of dense, intricate, virtuosic instrumental arrangements and shout-to-the-rafter vocals.
To make All Their Many Miles, the Sugar Strings knew that they wanted to veer away from over-production or over-laboured studio work. “We didn’t want to do anything in the studio that we couldn’t do in the live show,” trumpet player LOGAN BEAN explains. “The CD was recorded live; it’s just how we play. We wanted to capture that energy.” Picture then all six band members in a circle–Bean, cellist THERESA WATT, guitarist/drummer CARLYLE WATT, bassist KEVIN WORRELL, pianist/guitarist KATHRYN MOORE, and violinist MIRIAH PHELPS–each contributing vocals, voices rising in harmony. It’s a picture of warmth, a key to how cohesive the band sounds. And of course, it’s a reflection of the huge, sweeping natural vistas all around. “You’re always connected to Alaska’s natural environment,” says Worrell. “It’s beyond compelling. The earth lets you know that it’s running the show around here.” The album was composed and arranged in Homer, Alaska at the Bunnell Streets Arts Center, an arts gallery in town. “We were influenced by these epic mountains outside Homer,” Worrell continues, “and by the tide flowing in and out of Cook Inlet, which gave the album a slight maritime feel.” The songs on the album reference Alaska nature as well. “Heart of Stone,” came about from a fishing trip in which two band members watched a hillside burn from a localized forest fire. The starkness of being caught between two burning places becomes a metaphor extended to speak about being torn between choices. Surrounded by mountains that touch the sky, and the lonely expanses of the Pacific Ocean, Alaskans have a different flavour to their music, and they’ve got tighter music communities that stick up for the artists they believe in. The Super Saturated Sugar Strings transfer the radiant joy of Alaska’s home-grown music scene into house-shaking songs on their new album, All Their Many Miles. There’s gonna be a hot time in the cold town tonight!