Like oh so many time wasters who lived in a college dorm in 2001, I used to frequent The Spark (don’t bother looking for it—the site was sold off to Barnes & Noble years ago and is now the awful-looking SparkNotes, and what used to be just a part of The Spark, SparkMatch, is now OKCupid). Because of the hours I spent taking “The Death Test” and reading various “adventures in personal physiology,” I was sufficiently starstruck when a cool girl from my school told me that she had dated one of the founders of The Spark while she was in New York, and that now he was in a band called Bishop Allen and we should go see them when they came to our town. Which we did. It was fun.
All of that is a roundabout segue to the newest Bishop Allen project (and a chance to reminisce with you about The Spark), the Last Names. Though neither member of husband-wife duo Justin Rice and Darbie Nowatka worked for The Spark (both were/are in Bishop Allen), they do make fun poppy music and—let’s face it—there’s nothing like a cute couple singing sweet songs together (see: Yo La Tengo, Jay-Z & Beyoncé, Mates of State, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash, etc.) to tug at the heartstrings.
Do you think the photographer told them to strike a “married couple in a band together” pose?
The Last Names is a pretty new band, and as such they don’t have much music beyond a pleasant EP that makes me think their upcoming album, Wilderness, will also be pleasant. What they do have, though, is the 52 Covers Project.
Now, I love cover songs, so I was predisposed to like this idea, where the Last Names cover a different song each week for all of 2012. Even if you don’t like cover songs as a rule though, you might find yourself digging their first two picks: Nat King Cole’s “The More I See You” and the Dire Straits’ “So Far Away From Me.” Darbie’s voice takes on a bossa nova-ish quality on the first track and a haunted one on the second, and it makes for a surprising and great take on both songs. Take a listen!