BioAmidst the rum and ramshackle structures of mid-city New Orleans stands an old hotel, a brokedown relic of the busy Southern streets of the 1960s. Overhead the interstate casts noise and shadow, and down below sit forsaken Cadillacs, probably unmoved for decades. And though each of its eight stories reeks of stale beer and bathroom, its walls seep a certain indescribable charm.
Inside these halls of faded glamor and former exuberance, World Leader Pretend has made a home. The floor is well-littered: sleighbells, a tipped-over lamp, a little black book, dried-out coffee cups, a glockenspiel, and a pair of perfectly shined shoes. With careful steps, these scrappy and spirited gentlemen enter daily to write, arrange, and rehearse their sweet music, and to sort through their overactive imaginations and aesthetic hunches.
While not a likely setting for a pop band, it suits this gang well. World Leader Pretend has always been a maverick crew in New Orleans, a city where trumpets outnumber people two-to-one and jazz and jam bands are heralded while all others are mostly left to their own devices. The antique city's insularity and lack of a trendy scene gave the boys freedom from seductions to compete or conform, leaving them to develop their own unique charm over the years and, ultimately, make something beautiful.
The result is Punches, a collection of 14 pop songs with a rock flair and a soul feel, an homage to the music that had surrounded them for so many years, blasting from front porches on the racially integrated uptown streets, crackling from their busted tube radio, and intimating through the walls of their ragtag '60s hotel.
Punches espouses the grandiose orchestrations of blue-eyed soul, the raw intimacy of Stax records, and the playful crooning of vocal legends of yesteryear. Its combination of haughty glamor and heartbreaking honesty allows for a glimpse into a world of the boys' own creation.
World Leader Pretend is taking their own little universe of fractured glamor and slipshod sincerity on the road this spring, and inviting all to drop by. And although these gentlemen remain humble and earnestly unassuming, they're hedging their bets that you'll want to stay.