Brooklyn-based indie rock band, The Next Great American Novelist (NGAN), recently released their second record, Careless Moon. The DIY psych band is known for their electric and energetic live shows, where vocal harmonies showcased on the album can surround audiences in a way that even the most high-end speakers couldn’t capture.
One track, “Ice Moon,” won Best Music Video from the Harlem International Film Festival and won Best Dance Video from the Paris Underground Music Festival.
Songwriter and singer Sean Cahill of The Next Great American Novelist describes each track:
Blackberry – “This song is about insatiable lust; Finding peace in being selfish and embracing that desire. It came from a memory of being a child, standing in front of a massive blackberry vine and reaching through its thorns to get the fruit. As pretentious as our band name may make us seem, we keep the lyrics pretty simple in telling a story. The upbeat pacing and dynamics were a good way to open the record.
When we were in the studio, we became enchanted with playing the mellotron and found every excuse to use it. We played with atmospheric sounds to float into a psychedelic range.
Sometimes all it takes is a delay pedal to tap into feelings of nostalgia and give the impression of a memory. For a while I felt guilty about playing music, playing shows, as if it was a shameful or self-serving pursuit. After some reflection, I’m realizing that music is the best way I can spend my time, as it brings more light into the darkness and opens up an avenue for sharing joy.”
Gravity’s Rainbow – “The title is a tip of the hat to Thomas Pynchon, author of the post-modern classic, Gravity’s Rainbow. Though, you’d be hard pressed to find any other reference to the book in the song lyrics, rather we took inspiration from that colorful title. I wanted to explore the romance of celestial bodies moving through space, locked in a dance with one another like the planets to the sun or the moon to the earth. It is similar to the experience of falling in love, when you see someone across the room and you are helplessly attracted to them.
Our band will use any excuse to use delay pedals and Mellotron so there’s a heavy dose of those vibey-studio effects on here. One of my favorite moments recording this was during the last chorus, we stacked my voice on several different tracks and ran it through a rotary speaker. The effect makes it sound like an old organ playing but it’s really just my voice stacked in a three-part harmony.”
Bad Animation– “I wanted to have as much fun as possible with three chords. The lyrics were written as a stream of consciousness. I wanted to sing a rock anthem because you don’t hear too many of them out today.”
Baby Duck Song– “A few years ago I decided to read all the books I could on how to make money making music. I found that the biggest demand came from Christian record labels seeking to license songs. I am agnostic, so I knew that wasn’t going to work for me, but it lead me to think, ‘can I write a song about something I don’t care about?’
So I gave myself a prompt to explore a subject I normally wouldn’t write about: a baby duck. The song became a story of a duck who wanders from its family and explores a state of wonder and terror as they move through the world alone.”
It’s Been You – “This song is about finding someone who you can be brutally honest with. I was aiming in genre of soul. Also, I think there are enough minor seventh chords in there to claim a fingerprint of jazz too. It’s about surrendering to the one you love and finding bliss in the moments you hear them singing along to their favorite song.”
This one’s pretty on the nose as a 90’s alternative banger. It unabashedly harkens back to the drum thuds in Queen’s, “We Will Rock You,” and the modern classic stomp pedal chorus you’ll hear on an early Weezer song. I was looking to find a way to use words like “innocuous” and “neurosis” in a song without being pretentious.Wicked
Drag – “I love New York City, though, some days it feels like a dysfunctional landscape of ill-routine. Living here, you realize you’re functionally necessary but of small significance or importance within the larger enterprise. I’m immersed in a series of habits: standing in line, getting on a train, heading to work, buying coffee, buying booze… Are these choices I want to make or am I just keeping the machine going?”
I was going through a break up and it felt more like a death to me than the end of a romance. Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist wrote about the five stages of grief in her groundbreaking book, On Death and Dying. This song draws those comparisons to the experience of losing a lover; the process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.Kubler
Thursday – “This one is a fast moving blender of blues and Americana influences. It’s a love song about psychedelics with some dark commentary on what it feels like to be in love with someone in the age of porn. It starts with a surf rock feel, drenched in reverb then builds into a blues progression.There are no words in the chorus, just a guitar riff. We felt that it said enough.”
Ice Moon – “This song is a reflection on living as an artist. I was working working shit jobs ad nauseam, alienated and finding relief in psychedelic dreams only available in inner life. Creating or performing felt fruitless, a vanity project, which in this age feels deplorable considering our culture, from top to bottom, is focused entirely on benefiting yourself. When you devote your life to performing, the benefits don’t happen immediately, they come sometime in the future, when you can look back and see the impressions you left and what that meant to someone else.
There is a difference between chasing dreams when you’re 23, wet behind the ears in New York City and being 31, in a place saturated with world class talent and insurmountable bills. Whatever choice I make turns into some struggle, it might as well be the right one. Either way I’m sacrificing something. Making art allows you a feeling of impermanence, unlike many other forms of industry.”