Label: Anticon
Genre: Experimental / Pop
Online: Artist Website


Hailing from the small town of Mt. Pleasant, MI, home of Central Michigan University, Anathallo continues the long, proud tradition of bands that start in little college towns in the middle of nowhere, like Lawrence, Kansas or Athens, Georgia: Anathallo is a quirky, artsy indie band with the sort of unique sound that comes from a place where it's easy to ignore outside influences. In fact, the closest point of comparison to Anathallo's experimental take on folk-rock comes from the loose collective of bands based in Athens that grew out of the Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel: describing their sound as "a marching band gone wild," the band blends trippy neo-psychedelic guitar pop with a fully integrated horn section, layers of keyboards, and masses of hand percussion underneath the boyish twin lead vocals of guitarist Matthew Joynt and keyboardist Andrew Dost. (The subtle Christian themes and generally positive message of the band's lyrics also bear some similarity to the Polyphonic Spree, though Anathallo lacks the choral aspect of that band's sound, and fellow Michigan native Sufjan Stevens.) Originally forming in early 2000 as its members were graduating from high school and starting college, Anathallo's first lineup consisted of Joynt, Dost, drummer Joel Thiele, bassist Seth Walker, trumpeter Greg Leppert, trombonist Nathan Sandberg, and guitarist Glenn King. The group self-released their debut EP Luminous Luminescence in the Atlas Position in 2001, then signed with the indie label Selah Records for 2002's Sparrows and a pair of more overtly religious-themed EPs, 2003's A Holiday at the Sea (lyrically inspired in part by British theologist C.S. Lewis) and 2004's Hymns, a collection of traditional hymns reworked in the band's signature style. During this period, an open door membership policy saw drummer Ty Forquer, flugelhorn player Jamie MacLeod, trombonist Kevin Greenlees, and clarinetist and harmony singer Erica Froman drift through the ranks. Following a 2005 12" split EP with the Javelins called Entropy and the dissolution of Selah Records, Anathallo signed with Canadian management powerhouse Nettwerk, through which they signed a distribution deal with Sony/BMG for their own label, Artist Friendship. With a new lineup of Joynt, Dost, Walker, Leppert, and new members guitarist Daniel J. Bracken, trombonist Bret Wallin, and drummer Jeremiah Johnson, Anathallo released their breakout album Floating World (a concept album based in part on a Japanese folk tale) in February 2006.[AMG Stewart Mason]