Sometimes it can be difficult not going overboard with praise when something I really like comes my way. Since we mostly write about music we love here, it’s easy to get excited about a great release. And so it is with Vancouver pop chameleons The Top Boost.
The duo, made up of Hunter Gogo and Kirill Yurtsev have a relatively small output (10 tracks over two EPs and a new single), but its quality is more than enough to whet the appetite and one would be forgiven for breaking out the superlatives.
The Top Boost bill themselves as a psychedelic garage-pop band and if you like bands like Foxygen or The Lemon Twigs, chances are you’ll absolutely love The Top Boost. But that would only be scratching the surface. Fans of The Church, The Posies, and even Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Byrds, and The Beatles will find a lot to like. They first caught my attention with last spring’s ‘Dreaming‘ EP, a stunning 3-song collection of power pop helped along by Roger Joseph Manning Jr. from Jellyfish/Imperial Drag.
Ultimately as a description, psychedelic garage-pop works if it means polished and shimmering dreamland pop with glorious harmonies and melodies. I get the sense that both Gogo and Yurtsev are music lovers that take a studious approach to music, not only writing, playing, and listening, but learning from the masters. They essentially craft songs that are equally rooted in the sounds of Merseybeat and Laurel Canyon along with 80s/90s power-pop. It sounds like it could be grandiose, but it works because, simply put, the songwriting here is elite.
The new single has them stretching out a bit with the Gram Parson-esque ‘Tell Me That You’re Mine‘, a jaunty Bakersfield honky-tonk track featuring their standout harmonies and pedal steel by Matt Kelly (City and Colour). The flip ‘Early Morning Days‘ is a gorgeous chamber-pop gem that brings to mind Vancouver legends The Grapes of Wrath. Both tracks sound timeless which is the hallmark of staying power.
With 2020 throwing the ultimate curveball for the music industry we hooked up with Hunter for a quick Q&A.
You’ve been together at The Top Boost for the past 4 years, why the slow gradual release of music?
Recording music takes time. To really get the best recordings, it takes a lot of hard work and patience. We learned early on that things usually end up taking longer than we think, and that’s just fine with us. We all have day jobs, and we usually record on the weekend when everyone is free. Recording dozens of tracks of vocal harmonies take time. Mixing all of it can be tedious. Luckily we leave that part to our producer, Analog Steve. He has all the right tricks to make it sound perfect.
“I think country rock is looked down upon by a lot of people these days, and we wanted to remind everyone that there’s so much more to the genre than Garth Brooks.”
How did the country-rock sound of the new single ‘Tell Me That You’re Mine’ happen?
Kirill and I wrote Tell Me That You’re Mine during a sunny summer afternoon a few years back. We really love Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, especially Don Rich. We kind of wanted to write a song that reminded us of the Buckaroos circa 1966. Obviously there’s a bit of Beatles and Byrds in there, and people have mentioned the Flying Burrito Brothers too. I don’t think we really planned on releasing a “country” 45 but both songs just fit so well together. If things had been different, these songs could have ended up on the Dreaming EP. I think country rock is looked down upon by a lot of people these days, and we wanted to remind everyone that there’s so much more to the genre than Garth Brooks.
How did you hook up with Roger Joseph Manning Jr for the ‘Dreaming’ EP?
Our producer Analog Steve reached out to him. We feel so lucky to have him sing on the song. He made it sound amazing. I remember the first time I heard what he added to the ending of Dreaming. It was like candy for my ears. We’ve always been huge fans of Jellyfish and Roger’s solo work, and it feels like a dream to share a song with him. That beautiful voice!
How have you been handling the isolation/stay at home situation of the last 3-4 months?
We’ve been keeping ourselves busy in different ways. There’s been a lot of songwriting. I’ve been learning to play keyboards a lot better. We all had a few Skype calls together, and I’m sure we all ordered lots of pizzas. In a weird way, it almost started feeling nice to be home for 3 months straight.
What’s on your ‘Pandemic Playlist’?
Lots of ELO. A lot of Fleetwood Mac too. A little George Harrison, a bit of Bowie. Oh yeah, and a bunch of The Sweet. I wish we could be those guys.
What’s up for the rest of 2020 and into 2021?
We are really hoping to get into the studio and properly start recording a bunch of demos we’ve been saving for about two years. The next batch of songs will probably end up a lot more ’70s rock-inspired if all goes well. Then again we always end up sounding like ourselves at the same time. It’s definitely going to be exciting getting these songs out whenever that may be… Let’s hope some appear in 2021!