Scarlet Oaks, Detroit-based souther-swathed folk and gutteral indie-rockers, had an industrious 2008, playing consistently throughout the south east hand-shaped-state, including City Fest and releasing a debut EP, Innocence Isn't Easy. The debut was a mix of the harmonious and the rough crackling, the shuffled pop and the gritty grind, the swooning and the spook.
This year's bringing on considerable changes for the band. Started by Steve McCauley and Noelle Lothamer in late 06, the quartet has solidified its line up with James Anthony on guitar and Joe Lavis on bass. They'll release their latest, Canadien Dew EP, in July on Bellyache Records.
"All the songs on Innocence were pretty much written before Scarlet Oaks was even band," said McCauley. "The new record has all been written with the band and it's musicians in mind. And, Noelle wrote a really great duet for us to sing. Plus, we're recording it totally different. We recorded Innocence over a year. It was a tough and grueling process with member changes and a lot of rerecording. The new record is being recorded pretty much live(at Ghetto Records) with the exception of the vocals and solos. We are hoping for a more "authentic" and "raw" Scarlet Oaks sound."
Asked about the source of their sound, often read as penchants for southern murk as refracted through the scuff of cement jungles, McCauley said, "Like the South for other artists, living in the City of Detroit is a pretty big part of my lyrical content. It's hard to be "sentimental" and "upbeat" a lot of the time with all of the economic problems and decay. So that cynicism makes it's way into the songs. Still, I've made a lot of strong bonds and great friendships, and have had a lot of great times in this City, and that is definitely a part of the new EP."
Coming up next for the band: I've been trying to defy my own conventions as a songwriter," said McCauley. "So hopefully people will hear some different sounds from Scarlet Oaks in the near future. This year is the year we get out of Detroit! Now that we have a more stable line up, we're going to be able to get out of town more. It's great to play here, but we're trying to expand our audience and not wear out our welcome. We're currently putting together some Midwest stuff as well as a swing down South."
See them live at 5 / 9 at Berkley Front; 5 / 15 at the Downtown Hoedown in Hart Plaza. More info: myspace.com/scarletoaks