Los Angeles-based duo Foxygen have received a healthy dose of attention following January's Jagjaguwar release of We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Much of this spotlight has shone in the form of acclaim, some of it the opposite. But to guitarist/songwriter Jonathan Rado, it's just a lot of overthinking on everyone's part. "People who like the album try to dissect every little influence, and those who rip on us think we're just some buzz band trying to break onto the scene by doing the vintage-rock thing," says Rado. "Musically, I don't even think we take ourselves that seriously. We just want to make fun music."
Foxygen wear their affinity for the '60s and all things glam on their sleeves, but that hasn't prevented them from releasing one of the most original albums of 2013 thus far. Rado's casual outlook aligns with the band's recording process for Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Whereas on previous releases Foxygen have taken their time experimenting with ways to use the studio, this album was written in a week, and recorded just as fast. Of course, Rado and bandmate Sam France still feel like they could have toiled over the creative process a bit longer, but according to Rado, "It's the first time we've acted and recorded like a real band."
The two gents recognize Foxygen as their career, but they've had a non-professional attitude about approaching music on their own terms. Growing up in the Agoura Hills area of Los Angeles and starting Foxygen in 2005 —when they were both 15 years old — Rado and France have developed a thick skin in regard to the image-heavy competitive pressures endemic to their hometown. What's more, the pair have never quite identified with a strong local music scene; instead, they have evolved together, emulating classics in the beginning, and progressively building original sounds over the course of a decade. "The culture in LA can be discouraging," says Rado. "But we've never really strived to establish ourselves in any regard. We've never felt the need to."
This outlook has left a lot of doors open, conceptually, for Foxygen. The result is a diverse palette of influences all clicking on one record: Ambassadors of Peace & Magic conjures up genres, places, and fads of yesteryear, but encompasses the simple glory of modern twentysomethings touring in a van and pledging allegiance to rock and roll. Having made their mark with such a creative statement, the attention they're receiving is not only well-deserved, it's also not likely to die any time soon.
FOXYGEN + UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA + WAMPIRE :: Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston :: March 2 :: 8pm :: 18+ :: $13 :: 617.779.0140 or brightonmusichall.com