By Justin Vellucci
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
“Forget me not, I’ll always be around,” Jaren Love sang, almost knowingly, on a posthumous single The Lampshades released after the trio called it Splitsville in 2019.
What can you say? The man holds true to his word.
The Lampshades, which started as a slightly formulaic indie-rock concern and later wandered into wonderfully ambitious junk-pop terrain, got Love through high school. They carried him from rural Bedford County to Altoona to Pittsburgh. And, when they ceased existing permanently two years ago, it was the absence of The Lampshades that kickstarted a new chapter in the Millvale musician’s life.
“It was weird at first but I think it’s important to try something different,” Love says to Pittsburgh Current. “It’s like anything else in life – if you move to a new town or change jobs. It’s tough not to imagine what you were doing before but you embrace it. It’s nice to experience the music with different people.”
Goodbye, Lampshades. Hello, Dream Home.
The new trio features Love as the familiar frontman; Joe Praksti, of Pittsburgh’s Rave Ami, providing a plucky, often poppy bass; and Sam Winward anchoring the affair on the drums. New Jersey-based indie Mint 400 Records is releasing the band’s self-titled debut LP on streaming services this Friday (March 19). Physical releases on CD, cassette or vinyl will follow, Love says.
The new, nine-song record is as textured and oddly nuanced as The Lampshades’ excellent 2018 swan song, “Astrology.” But it isn’t so much a copy of that previous outing’s highlights or theses as much as it takes the proceedings one step further down the road.
Part of the continuity is thanks to Dane Adelman, The Lampshades drummer and whiz-kid production guru who also worked his studio magic on the Dream Home LP. Adelman’s fingerprints are all over “Dream Home” and we mean that in a good way – the touch of a well-mixed slide guitar or a perfectly harmonized backing vocal adds scope to Love’s guitar-pop nuggets.
Praksti sees similarities between his gigs in Rave Ami and Dream Home – but only to an extent.
“I think the influences are similar but the direction taken is different,” he says. “Dream Home is this Beach Boys/Big Star hazy, late at night thing … There are more opportunities for spareness and leaning into a lo-fi approach.”
The new record, though, is far, far, far from a lo-fi shambles.
“It was a slacker 90s LP with moments of grandiosity, which I think are brought to the fore by Dane,” Praksti says.
The front-facing acoustic guitars, recorded this time out back in Bedford County, have a brightness and crispness to them that belies the home recording; they tend to perk and pop out of your speakers. Then, there are two songs – “Fixing Tires” and “Go Back Home Son,” which roughly book-end the LP – that are delicate, even remorseful Hammond-ish laments and might be some of the most heartbreaking stuff you’ll hear in Pittsburgh this second spring of COVID-19. The jaunty and amazingly engaging “Late at Night,” written by Love and Adelman, is positively Beatle-esque. It’s hard to spot a lull throughout the record.
Love, though, is modest to a T about his performance chops. Even though Dream Home’s debut is far from splashy, it is, even by Lampshade-fans’ standards, amazingly self-assured.
“I consider myself more of a songwriter, not a virtuoso by any means,” Love says. “Joe adds that really talented musicianship with guitar and bass.”
Winward also attributes the record’s smooth sequencing and musical flow to his peers.
“[Music] was something I really wanted to explore more – it was high on the priority list when I moved out here,” Winward tells Current. “I think that Jaren and Joe, just in terms of their open-mindedness, really eased my mind and made me feel comfortable.”
“I think all the songs are good and I’m proud to be a part of it,” he adds. “I hope there’s a second record.”
So do we.