When I first was introduced to Cold Fronts, it was undeniably a band – four young dudes making rock and roll in a West Philly basement they dubbed the Rathaus. It was 2010 and they had an impossibly catchy fuzzrock / power pop song called “Catch” that I’m pretty sure I first heard streaming on their MySpace page. The song fit nicely in an era of my listening where I missed The Strokes of the early aughts, and the LCD Soundsystem and Broken Social Scene records of the moment weren’t quite scratching that itch. I reviewed the track in City Paper, and the elated guys dropped off a couple soft pretzels as tokens of their appreciation. Technically I’m not supposed to accept thank you gifts, but I reasoned that – in addition to being a very Philly thing to do — two $0.79 soft pretzels are not going to sway me on a band I already liked.
Then things changed; Cold Fronts became less of a band, and more of a focus on singer-guitarist and primary songwriter Craig Almquist. It began when they signed a deal with Sire Records – my wife and I caught a Johnny Brenda’s gig where we turned around midway through their opening set to find legendary A&R guy Seymour Stein seated at a high-top table behind us, bobbing his head to the beat. The process of recording, then releasing the band’s debut album on the industry’s timetable was taxing for all involved. Band members quit; new players joined, and left. All the press imagery showed Almquist and Almquist alone. He estimates that over a dozen people have been involved in Cold Fronts over the years, with the most difficult of those years being the four that it took for Forever Whatever to ultimately see a release in 2015.
These days, though, they’re back to their roots, but significantly wiser for the wear. The band’s sophomore album, Fantasy Du Jour, is out on Friday via Sire. It has classic Cold Fronts rock-out moments like “Stayin’ In,” a rifftastic two-minute jam about getting stoned and ordering Indian food. But there are also moments of greater nuance, depth and maturity – the atmospheric dream-pop tones of “Let The Record Play”; the subdued Big Star-esque fingerpicked acoustic ballads “Lightning Storm” and “Back and Forth”; the uplifting vocal harmonies on “The World For Sale.”
Most significantly, Cold Fronts has gone from being a scatterbrained rotating cast project to a solidified unit once again, something we hear a nod to on the reflective title track, where Almquist sings “love’s no fun when you’re the only one.”
Below, we’re happy to give you a first listen to Fantasy Du Jour ahead of its April 20th release date, as well as the accompanying pop-up pop-up gig we hear the band is playing somewhere in Philly. (They also have an album release party that night at Mercury Lounge.) Take it for a spin as you read my interview with Almquist, who I caught up with on the phone on a sunny day last week. He was chillin in Rittenhouse Square on after getting done with his shift doing bike delivery, and we talked about the evolution of Cold Fronts, the making of the new album, his thoughst on the major label experience and how he wound up in a swimming pool canoe at SXSW. Continue reading →