It wasn’t a spiritual journey as many musicians claim bring their songs to life, but for SHMNS - pronounced “shamans” - it all fell into place as if destiny were packing a suitcase for a trip not quite yet planned; casually and with equal parts fate and faith.
Philadelphia’s electro/indie-pop SHMNS intend to make a bold statement with their debut EP, Somewhere Between Here and There (released May 14). “Here and there is where we are and where we essentially want to be, musically and conceptually,” reflects guitarist Isaac Louis. “It has become our mantra,” adds vocalist and conceptualist Justin P. Romanos.
Comprised of four music industry students (vocalist Justin P. Romanos, guitarist Issac Louis, bassist Mike Morrongiello, and drummer Richie Straub) who have experienced the ins and outs of the DIY Philadelphia music culture since 2010, SHMNS aims to add a sense of polished validity to the scene while still remaining true to their roots. Influenced by such artists as Local Natives, Tama Pala, and Minus the Bear, the quartet have created a unique sound that is rooted in the various members’ frustration with the electronic scene as well as their ambition to create fresh mix of live instruments with electronic elements.
Everything that vocalist and founder Justin P. Romanos has done musically has lead to this album. “Going into a studio and working with a producer has shown me how different it really is than doing it all yourself,” notes Romanos. Initially writing all the songs that comprise Somewhere Between Here and There with a combination of core guitar tracks and midi instruments, Romanos’ main focus was how to translate these compositions to a full band once it came time to record.
Working with Philadelphia based producer/engineer Brandon Bost, SHMNS were able to develop a unique mix of the electronic elements that dominated their youth with a fresh combination of live musical arrangements. “Recording Somewhere Between Here and There, was an interesting process in regards to figuring out how far I could push the band as musicians and getting to know them as people,” reflects Bost. “It was pretty obvious that even though they have a sort of hi-fi electronic exterior, SHMNS is very much so a band looking for vintage tones—cohesively melding their electronic influence with their vintage sound.“
There is an unregistered hominess in SHMNS’s debut EP that is softened by wistful hypnotics, gradient slopes that marry harmony and lyrics, and an abundance of beauty and balance in Romanos’ voice as he lingers sentiments on the tip of his tongue. Like a summer night so crisp, warm, and humbling, SHMNS cannot effectively run from the mysticism that has been, in ways, naturally selected for their songs; both bold, innovative, yet with a warm touch like that of long drive home with no cars blocking your way.