Last September’s Neon Reverb National SouthWestern Electronic Recordings showcase consisted of five acts; Friday’s March edition featured eight. If that rapid expansion seems significant, it is—Las Vegan Ronald Corso’s label/home-based studio has quickly become a go-to hotspot for local bands looking to lay down their music.
In addition to NSW’s original core of bands—A Crowd of Small Adventures, Hungry Cloud, Mother McKenzie and The Novelty Act—a host of others have worked or are presently working with Corso, including Twin Brother, The Mad Caps, Dreaming of Lions and David Hopkins.
“I’m in this to do recording projects that I find interesting and that I enjoy doing,” Corso says. “It’s a community effort, and it’s not exclusionary, other than that there’s a hundred bands that I’d like to work with and only so many hours in a day.”
A rundown of the NSW acts at Friday’s Aruba-housed showcase:
* David Hopkins: The Irish-born singer-songwriter, who performed early in the evening in the Thunderbird Lounge, has demo’d one song with Corso thus far. Is he “on” the label? “I’d say he’s a new friend of ours,” Corso says. “And he’s an amazing talent.”
* Dreaming of Lions: Chris Leland’s folk project, which provided another early Thunderbird set, recorded a live album in Corso’s home (now available as a download by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). DoL’s latest disc, A Lovers Vow!, was recorded in Leland’s house, with Wyatt McKenzie—the man behind NSW mainstay Mother McKenzie—producing.
* The Mad Caps: Ted Rader’s Elvis-channeling two-man band, which unleashed a barrage of colored balloons mid-set in the Aruba Showroom, has already recorded a live set with Corso—available as a podcast at LastGreatCity.com; now, Corso says, The Mad Caps are preparing to record a full-length. “[Rader] is a fan of real, raw primitive stuff,” Corso says. “Knowing the way he works, we’ll probably finish the album in a weekend.”
* Mother McKenzie: McKenzie’s newly released album, Bedroom Music, is his first on the NSW imprint. On Friday, he teamed with a band comprising Corso and Andrew Yeghiazarian on guitar, Leo Banchik of The Rooks on bass and Jon Realmuto of The Rooks and The Mad Caps on drums.
* The Novelty Act: Bryan Todd, who also performed solo to kick-start the festivities in the Thunderbird, returned to the stage later in the night with his three-piece band and got the showroom crowd moving with a set that featured several new power-pop confections. No specific recording plans, at present.
* A Crowd of Small Adventures: Recording for the band’s long-awaited debut full-length is 98 percent finished, according to Corso. “Late April or May,” frontman Jackson Wilcox predicts of a release date. “Hopefully.” Though Wilcox’s voice showed the effects of a late-winter cold, the foursome, which features Corso on bass, received the showroom crowd’s most appreciative response of the night, keeping a packed-near-the-stage throng dancing past 2 a.m.
* Hungry Cloud: Mike Weller’s 2008 debut album stands as the pinnacle of NSW’s output to date, but the Hungry Cloud frontman isn’t resting his reputation on it. Friday’s seven-song Aruba Showroom included just two cuts off that disc (yep, one of them was “We Are Alive,” the tune featured in a recently debuted McDonald’s commercial). The rest? A batch of more fully rocked-out—and notably darker—material Weller has been focusing on for the past several months. Though Weller has discussed recorded some of them for a “concept” EP, Corso says there’s no definitive plan on what’s next for Hungry Cloud in the studio just yet.