There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
No. 3, “Black and White Movie,” which with its railing guitars, subtle piano hooks, and disarmingly funky bass line invokes the uplifting Britpop of recent years. The track is “a bit bouncier and happier” than the unsigned band’s past work, says songwriter and keyboardist Mike Beach. Although Beach wrote “Black and White Movie” about “the nuanced, complicated aspects of a relationship,” its melancholy theme is complemented—and often, surpassed—by its upbeat, cheery cast.
Beach originally banged out “Black and White Movie” on piano, then wrote the lyrics. But the five-part arrangement proved daunting. “We played the song for months before we figured it out…nothing seemed to fit,” singer and guitarist Jeff Wharen says. Eventually everything cohered around drummer Mike Smirnoff’s effervescent beat, which emerged in a jam session. “[Smirnoff] was experimenting with different sounds, you know, tapping on the side of his high-hat stand. After that, it all sort of came together,” says Wharen.
Even after No Second Troy nailed down a rhythm, the band was still looking for some additional bounce. Enter bassist John Woolf, whose impromptu bass line—sweet, plucking sounds that dig into and layer the background —quickly transformed the song. “When we heard it, we liked it,” Wharen says. “It’s kind of a reggae-inspired, Caribbean-style sound.” —Chris Heller
No Second Troy performs with Reserves and Soft Complex Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat.