A new band called The Living Daylights will break out their first EP this week at the Portland House of Music and Events. Angela MacDonald, who sings, plays acoustic guitar and keyboard, and Justin Shea, who plays electric guitar, have teamed up on the album called Heartbeat.
MacDonald hails from Millinocket. She went to Stearns High School where she did everything musically she possibly could – playing sax and clarinet in the jazz band, and then went to the University of Maine at Orono for a couple years, studying music education and theater. That route wasn’t working for her, so she took another, teaching herself guitar while she started to write songs.
“Growing up, I listened to a lot of jazz and the Beatles,” she said. “I used to change the station all the time when listening to standard pop, even if it was a band I liked. They all have that repetitive chorus.”
Two years ago, MacDonald began a Kickstarter project called “Beauty in the Saddest of Places” to raise some money for recording equipment.
She hoped to reach anyone she could, “to make a difference in even just one life, to help inspire someone to find their voice and believe in it.” What she didn’t realize, she admits, “was that I was yet to even find my own.”
After the initial struggles, she was introduced to Shea. They spent a few days together, learning the intricacies of home recording.
“As we worked, he rapidly gave my music a life that I didn’t know it needed. The idea of working together on the writing, as well as the technical aspects, became very appealing to us both,” she said.
After a few months, they recruited Justin’s brother Brendan, to write and track the percussion for songs toward the new record. She credits Now Now, St. Vincent, and Mew as being influential to the new sounds, and especially Sara Barielles.
MacDonald says Justin Shea is “basically the brains behind the musical effects that fill out the songs,” including the use of a guitar pedal called the rainbow machine.
The release was fecorded and mixed almost entirely at home, and the band received some help from Noah Cole. The record is a BullMoose exclusive for the first few weeks, which they hope will drive up sales.
MacDonald has played with Nice Places before, filling in for their vocalist, but is looking forward to singing her own songs at the record release party on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Portland House of Music and Events. Emily Harvey (of JB5) and Michael Whitmore will perform with them for live shows. The band is based mostly in the Saco/Biddeford area. They also have a follow-up gig on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Elements in Biddeford.
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