Fortunaut is the pseudonym of Brooklyn-based Ryan Kershaw, who just released Press Up Off the Earth on Odd Gift Records. More and more I’m finding out about bands whose names play off the word astronaut. Maybe one day all such bands will join forces to organize their own festival. It would take place on Staten Island and they’d all have to cover Rocket Man, or something. On July 11th, Fortunaut released Press up Off the Earth, an album that was recorded live in one day, after just one rehearsal. Talk about organic.
Press up Off the Earth falls on the alternative/pop side of the indie rock spectrum. A sub-genre that is home to many solo singer/songwriter acts but one that I find rarely makes its way in to a full band setting. Only one day in the studio doesn’t leave much time for endless takes or for little production tricks, the absence of which is fitting of the genre I suppose. The songs are quite exposed, what you hear is what you get.
The record begins with the instrumental title track, a bit of a left-footed opening in my opinion. However, my interest was piqued during the intro of the second track ‘Sunmelt.’ It’s the first time we hear the raspy voice of frontman Ryan Kershaw, which later breaks into a nostalgic plea during the chorus. There’s a certain energy in Kershaw’s voice. It’s the type of uncertain excitement that a new band feels when they first start playing together. Fortunaut had the good fortune (ha) of capturing that energy on tape. Most bands rehearse songs to death before entering the studio and while the finished product will sound new to the listener, the band may have very likely given a flat performance in the studio. Other highlights of the record include the introspective lyrics of ‘Figures,’ the surprise guitar solo on ‘Carried Along’ and a second instrumental track with ‘Remiss.’