Good Kids Sprouting Horns
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Good Kids Sprouting Horns

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Band Rock Folk


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Tucked away this past winter out of the spotlight, Good Kids Sprouting Horns was honing the show that will blow up on the Space stage Friday night. Adding intrigue to a promising night is the fact that the indie darlings will be releasing their new full-length record "We Are Animals" with bigger, brasher songs truer to their live sound.

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Anthony Bitetti, Jessamy Luthin and Ryan Higgins make up Good Kids Sprouting Horns. Their CD release is Friday.

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GOOD KIDS SPROUTING HORNS CD RELEASE WITH: Good Kids Sprouting Horns, Marie Stella and Theodore Treehouse

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $6. Ages 18 and older.



"The Natural Bridge," Silver Jews

"Micah P. Hinson and The Gospel of Progress," Micah P. Hinson

"Contrast Eats the Slimey Green," Metal Feathers

"This Year's Model," Elvis Costello

"Magic Wand," Little Wings

"The Thrill of the Hunt," Kind of Like Spitting

"What If Someone Is Watching Their TV?" Screaming Females

"Goat," The Jesus Lizard

"Idaho Rainbow," Hello Shark

"My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess," Kimya Dawson

Anthony Bitetti, Jessamy Luthin and Ryan Higgins, with the help of their good friends at [dog]and[pony], have a couple of tricks up their sleeve for the slate of release shows and an upcoming set at the Arootsakoostik festival. But what comes across strongest from the humble crew is their eagerness to reconnect with fans, listeners and their close-knit community.

After reading my interview with Bitetti, check out what's been incubating all winter in the fine musical brains of Good Kids Sprouting Horns this Friday.

What's the derivation of this strange band name of yours?

I tend to compile lists of possible band names from lyrics of songs that I truly enjoy, and this one comes from an Andrew Bird song. During the song "Opposite Day," there is the line "and youthful indiscretion now is suddenly the norm, with the good kids sprouting horns," and it seemed to fit what I was doing at the time. "Opposite Day" has always been one of my favorite songs, on one of my favorite records, and the rest of the band agreed that it sounded good.

So you're finally ready to drop "We Are Animals." What are your expectations for this record?

I'm trying not to have too many expectations, because I don't want to be disappointed by reality not quite living up to them. I do think we will see a bigger response than we did for "Give Up the Ghost" because we had offered GUTG for free download months before we released it on [dog]and[pony], so a lot of people already had it. We have been keeping this one pretty quiet to try and curb that effect, but we will find out (this) week.

How does "We Are Animals" compare to "Give Up the Ghost?"

"We Are Animals" is more aggressive and representative of our live sound. The first record was recorded with acoustic guitars, random percussion and toy keyboards, mostly by myself. This record (although a lot of it was done by me) was more of a group effort. The songs weren't developed in recording software, but in the open air, and I think the overall energy of the record shows that. Since we started playing shows, we have heard a lot of comments about "Give Up the Ghost" not living up to the live performance, and we really wanted to put a stop to those reactions with "We Are Animals."

What will the scene be like at Arootsakoostik, which happens in New Sweden, Maine, in July?

Arootsakoostik is going to be a lot of fun this year. We came into possession of this old pump organ over the winter and decided to set up a show based around it. With a little help from some friends (Tim Berrigan and Mike Powers of Great Western Plain), we are going to be a five-piece with gypsy percussion, banjo, acoustic guitar, bass and pump organ. We plan on reworking a handful of songs, writing a couple of new ones and recording the whole endeavor to be released as "EPTHREE" at the festival.

Which other acts in town inspire you most?

My favorite Portland band is probably Metal Feathers or Marie Stella. I am also super excited for the new Huak. As for inspiration, I'm not sure. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what inspires me in my songwriting or performance. I think as a band we take in a diverse amount of influences, force them through a sieve and see what ends up in the bowl. We have a very good lineup for both record-release shows (at Space on Friday and at The Oak and the Ax in Biddeford on Saturday), and though I can't wait to see Wes Hartley and Marie Stella, I am very excited to see Theodore Treehouse and The Milkman's Union because I have missed all previous opportunities.

What's your favorite room to play in the state?

If it was six months ago I would have told you Roots and Tendrils, but with their unfortunate closure, I'll have to say The Oak and the Ax. We haven't personally played there before, but I have seen a handful of shows, and every time I fall a little more in love with the room (and the people). Sadly, though, we haven't played all the places in town we would like; namely we have missed a couple of chances to play the Apohadion, which I hear good things about. Hopefully this next year will bring more opportunities our way.

Who's your dream collaborator?

Unrealistically, my dream would be John Darnielle. I have always felt confident in my ability to make music, but I am very self-conscious about my lyrical ability, and Mr. Darnielle has a way with words that I would truly love to exploit and maybe even learn a thing or two about in the process.

Realistically, my dream would be starting a band with myself on guitar, Jason Unterreiner (Wood Burning Cat) on bass, Mike Cunnane (The RattleSnakes, Huak, Sunset Hearts) on drums and Jakob Battick on vocals. A really loud, abrasive, noisy, mathematical mess. - Portland Press Herald

We Are Animals” starts with a storm. A bitter storm.

I could hear it in the droning stoicism of the Casio keyboard, the anxious two-step drumming, and the bluesy distorted guitar. Grayness settled around.

And then came the growing thunder of Anthony Bitetti’s voice. “I know that you are the only one to blame / because I am an animal, but you made me this way,” he says in the chorus. The spitefulness is not only evident in his lyrics and vocals. The entire timbre of instruments paint the scene as if directed by Sam Mendes, an auteur famous for those discordant scenes in movies like “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road.”

The negativity isn’t a bad thing. We all need our outlets. And Good Kids Sprouting Horns makes the pain bearable by creating a fuzzy and interesting palette of noise along with troubled melodies and rhythms that stick to the ears.

While Bitetti’s wrenching voice and Jessamy Luthin’s keyboards are the constant (besides “Oversized Indians” where she plays a beautiful organ at the beginning), a dark southern-tinged banjo leads the way on “Under A Cartoon Sky,” “Major Jar (Subaru Loyale II),” and “Black River.” A sludgy bass splashes around on “Oil Spill” and “In A Nutshell.” For a few songs, Luthin gives exhausted, but sympathizing backing vocals to Bitetti, leading me to believe that maybe now he’s not as alone as he says in his songs. And drummer Ryan Higgins shows a lot of range of simple and complex beats through the entire album.

Sam Pfeifle complained about the album’s lo-fi quality in his Portland Phoenix review, but the production value fits well with what the band is doing. It is certainly a step up from their debut album, “Give Up The Ghost,” but the idea of a cleaner and crisper band makes me cringe. They have the dirty aesthetic because that’s what they’re doing. And it works.

Across the board in songwriting, color, composition, arrangement, and production, Good Kids Sprouting Horns captures a feeling that most bands only do with one or two of those elements. “We Are Animals” is a product of hard work, and the care is shown in the depth and expression of the songs. - Dispatch Magazine

The song "Double Digits, a Life Achievement" from Bangor bangers Good Kids Sprouting Horns opens with what sounds like an irksome alarm clock. In just as much time as it takes to screw up your face in revolt, the pop serum comes in like seratonin in a syringe.

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Anthony Bitetti, left, Jessamy Luthin and Ryan Higgins are Good Kids Sprouting Horns. They’re playing at Slainte in Portland on Friday.

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1. The Mountain Goats

2. The Doors

3. Piebald

4. Afghan Whigs

5. The Mae Shi

6. Tom Waits

7. Okay

8. Electric President

9. Deerhoof

10. Old Canes

GKSP is Anthony Bitetti on vocals, guitar and bass; Jessamy Luthin on the Casio CT-701, Wurlitzer, Casio MT-205, Casio PT-1 and Melodica; and Ryan Higgins shoring it up with steady percussion.

The taut crew writes tunes that naturally build, with gorgeous garage drums, synth surprises and Bitetti's raw roar wrapped around big-hearted hooks.

Beyond the songcraft, there's something so likeable behind the total package, and Bitetti took the time to tell GO about it.

Check out the je ne sais quoi for yourself at Slainte Friday night, where the Good Kids kick off their Mini Summer Tour 2010.

What gave birth to Good Kids Sprouting Horns?

I've always made fairly safe music, in my opinion. It was always the type of pop rock that came naturally, and really didn't say any of the things that I was wanting to say with my music. My old bandmate (Jason Unterreiner of Wood Burning Cat) got me started on February Album Writing Month a couple of years ago, and it allowed me to explore my folk side and experiment a little more with different styles.

Last February, I borrowed a bunch of toy Casio keyboards and began writing organ-driven folk music. Eventually, that turned into Good Kids Sprouting Horns as we appear today.

After all the twists and turns, are you happy with (the CD) "Give Up the Ghost"? What are you most proud of?

"Give Up the Ghost" was a complete success in my book. I wanted to make a cohesive album, both lyrically and musically, and I feel strongly that we achieved just that. Most of the songwriting was done by myself, with the help of GarageBand, so mostly you are hearing my vision alone on the record, but Jessamy and Ryan add their musical tastes to our live show, and will be a much larger part of the writing process for the next record.

You guys are often described as "authentic." What makes an artist seem authentic to an audience?

I don't really know what quality makes an artist appear authentic; I just think you know it when you see it, if that makes sense. I poured my life into this record, and I think it comes through in the performance.

In everything we do, we try to remain true to ourselves and what we grew up loving about music, whether it's the twangy slightly distorted guitar, the heavy keyboard drones, the almost emo-ish vocals.

It's all part of us, it's what we are, and we have no desire to hide it.

Will the GKSH sound ever evolve? If so, what will be added or taken away?

It has already evolved a great deal. The new songs we've been working on are going in completely different directions from themselves, and from "Give Up the Ghost."

We have talked about someday adding a fourth member, maybe someone who can play a series of stringed instruments, or horns to add more layers of melody. I'm not sure at this point.

One thing I do know is that Jessamy's oboe will be making appearances on the next record.

What type of impact do you want to have as a lyricist?

I want to tell a story that gives the listener a tingle. My favorite songs are the ones that make me shiver.

Every time I listen to "Baboon" by the Mountain Goats and John Darnielle sings, "daisies on the hillside like cancer on the skin, pretty little yellow eyes that flutter in the wind, I'd be grateful my children aren't here to see this, if you'd ever seen fit to give me children," my spine flutters, and I won't ever forget how that feels.

If I can bring that sensation to anybody at all, I'll be happy. - Portland Press Herald

SPACE Gallery was all a-twitter the last Friday in May as some of the Portland area’s best new indie-rock bands showed up to please the crowd and prove this wouldn’t be the last we’d hear from them.
Theodore Treehouse kicked things off in their whimsical fashion, seeming a bit like a Talking Heads cover band fronted by Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound). First impressions fell fast as TT showed a great deal of depth and sustained an exuberance for their music that spread like an infection in the crowd. Every time it seemed like one member of the band was carrying the torch for the rest – be it Ian Ferrel’s yelpy vocals and knotted guitar lines, or Dylan Verner’s precision on the drum set – another would come to the forefront. This is one well-rounded pop vehicle.
The sonic hurricane that is Marie Stella came up next and pushed the energy to 11. The crowd was ready for it. Bryan Bruchman absolutely shredded while trading guitar lines with Matthew Erickson, Max Heinz whaled on the drums and Sydney Bourke centered everything with her no-frills vocals and bass playing. It was a real barn-burner.
The main attraction was Good Kids Sprouting Horns, who were celebrating the release of their sophomore effort, We Are Animals. The Kids seem to simultaneously embrace their now-retro-sounding emo influences and reject them in favor of a more warped and interesting guitar rock. Anthony Bitetti’s vocals scream Dashboard Confessional at times, especially when backed by the Casio mope of Jessamy Luthin. But Bitetti’s Modest Mouse-sounding guitar begs to differ. Luthin’s keyboard often filled in the lower registers, providing a bass-heavy dirge that echoed the dark, unabashedly pained lyrics.
It was a raw, open performance by Bitetti, who was able to balance the intensity of his performance with casual between-song banter. A forgotten drumstick became an entertaining anecdote, and what could have been a set-killing lull was averted. When an amp blew, the audience started a rhythmic clap/stomp circle, calling for more – to call them a receptive crowd would be an understatement.
The band has shown real growth since the release of its previous album. Not far beneath the drone and twang of their more mature sound are pop-song structures left over from their hyper-emotive roots. Their new batch of songs shows that emo pop and angsty rock can coexist. - The Bollard

Sometimes, it's good to set the bar low. Even the [dog] and [pony] label press materials note the debut Good Kids Sprouting Horns album, Give up the Ghost, is "unprofessional," and the album's liner notes proudly proclaim the album was "recorded in a small bedroom of a second floor apartment in Bangor, Maine."

So, complaining about the lack of fidelity is sort of pointless. The real question is whether you can wade through murk to get something out of 10 songs buried within it.

There's cool stuff here, though. On that opener, Ryan Higgins provides nice subtle drum work, riding a tambourine and filling with the snare to create an inward-looking beat to complement songwriter and frontman Anthony Bitetti's introspective lyrics: "22 and I still think back when we were young . . . held the secrets on the tips of our tongues/But what did we know?" Higgins also does some great quick brushwork on "Woodwork," a crazy mania juxtaposed with Bitetti's lugubrious delivery: "My insides are twisting themselves into knots."

Though the vocals are often muted, or simply badly captured, there are some real moments of beauty, too, as Bitetti's growl is lifted up by the crystalline backing vocals of Jessamy Luthin, as "Tight White Lines," which moves back and forth from perfectly stripped down to a rambling, crashing full-band sound. Luthin's keyboards are startlingly pretty at times, too, like melody lines from music boxes that were never made.

Strangely enough, Bitetti's delivery isn't that different from Wesley Allen Hartley's (or Okkervil River's Will Sheff), and it wasn't that long ago that the first Cat & Mouse compilations introduced us to pretty lo-fi initial work from Dead End Armory. Do Good Kids have the same kind of potential? Absolutely. Bitetti can write like hell and his delivery drips with real emotion. Make sure you get this album if you want to be able to say you heard it first. - Portland Pheonix

Good Kids Sprouting Horns are about as indie as you can get — their music is folksy, nerdy and emotional. But the simplistic beauty in their songwriting catches listeners off-guard, even in a genre where creativity and uniqueness have been methodically formulated.

Authenticity is everything in the indie scene and these guys have it down. The Bangor-based band seems to be at home crowded into small venues like Roots and Tendrils in Belfast. They are usually clad in flannel and play ragamuffin-looking instruments. It all seems cliché, but their music certainly deflects any criticisms.

Their debut album, “Give Up the Ghost,” is a completely successful endeavor. Some overly-artistic elements detract from it — whole minutes of accidentally recorded background noise, for instance — but when the band is playing, they are immaculate.

The blend of acoustic guitar, fuzzy Casio keyboard and reverb-drenched drums on opener “Popcorn Ceiling” introduce the melancholy mood the band excels at. Their songs are dreary but uplifting. The raw emotion in singer-guitarist Anthony Bitetti’s voice drives the band’s sound. Hidden in their drudgery are complex orchestrations, flowing melodies and off-kilter drum beats.

On faster tracks, such as “Woodwork,” the band still sounds great. Capturing a bit more of a Vampire Weekend vibe, the piano lines float over the rolling drums. For the most part, though, their songs are down-tempo and sweeping.

The album has a lo-fi vibe. The vocals are fuzzed and the sound clips out intermittently. However, this creates an aesthetic. Using Casio drum samples isn’t the best production idea, but it adds a techno-folksy feel perfect for this decade.

The songs are all pretty long — some six or seven minutes — but they don’t feel it. The band doesn’t jam or linger too long, but says everything it needs to say. Like the Ents in the “Lord of the Rings,” it just takes a while to say it.

Many of the problems found on their debut album are fixed on their untitled, follow-up EP. Released this year, the five-song collection includes a reworking of one of their previous songs, a Bob Dylan cover and three originals.

While some of the same, over-artistic elements are still present on the EP — it takes 30 seconds of noise for it to start — the music gets even better. The production is cleaner, though everything is still pretty reverb-heavy.

The songs have been trimmed — a sign of maturity — except for the lengthy Dylan cover of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” It would have been nice if they did more with the Dylan song than just put their spin on it, but paying homage to one of the greatest songwriters ever is never a bad idea.

The reworking of “Popcorn Ceiling” trims it down and focuses it — evidence the band is still growing. The percussion now sounds like distant war drums.

The band constantly walks along the border of the emo genre. “Repent” even has distant, throaty screams. Somehow, they stay on the positive side of the genre, taking in its good elements and rejecting its clichés.

All of their recordings capture a certain mood that has never been heard before. Influences from across time and genres can be heard in their music, but Good Kids Sprouting Horns make something all their own.

The band’s entire discography can be downloaded for free from its MySpace page, something that should be taken advantage of. A band this talented doesn’t give their stuff away for long. - Maine Campus

We have a natural inclination toward harmony. We look for patterns and symmetry and create narratives out of coincidences. Yet there is also something delicious about the outlier, the clashing of what's expected and what's real, that gets you excited about the possibilities of something new and different.

With Good Kids Sprouting Horns drummer Ryan Higgins's quick, pushing beat, Jessamy Luthin's purposely retro keyboards, and frontman Anthony Bitetti's grimy and tarred vocals, there is ample opportunity for this kind of clash: slow floating over fast, clean pulsing through dirty, sprightly dancing with lead-footed. The result on the band's second full-length, We Are Animals, is a lot to listen for. What they do best is surprise you with something you basically knew was coming, which has to be a good thing.

It doesn't quite work out because of a one-song anomaly, but it's just about true that every one of the 10 songs here is shorter than the one before it, and Good Kids seem to get more pointed and crisp as the album progresses. "Animal" opens things with just bass and a buzz, a hum, a hiss, whatever it is that is not "clean." This album is all kinds of dirty, especially in the guitar tones, like the one that's joined by an organ-flavored keyboard, and Bitetti's drawl: "I know you that you are the only one to blame/Because I am an animal, but you made me this way."

Here his voice is cracking, at the breaking point, and full of the believability that helps his songwriting succeed so well. I've written before that he has a lot of Wes Hartley in his delivery, but songs like "Oversized Indians" and "Black River" remind strongly of the Weakerthans' John Samson, or at least of his ability to sound winsome and punk at the same time. On the former, Bitteti adopts Jeff Tweedy's cadence from Wilco's "I'll Fight," before backing vocals muddy and augment. On the latter, a blaring keyboard (almost a bagpipe sound) is paired with a plinking and resonating banjo until Bitetti brings in a nice melody and some of his better lines: "I'm throwing all your letters in the fire/and your words keep softening the flame . . . The smoke carries your voice out through the chimney/But it found its way back through the windowpane/To hate me again."

Recorded "in a small cottage in Orono," there are parts of his album that are just as rough as the Good Kids debut. Ron Harrity's mastering job is a good one, though. This album virtually needs to be held together with duct tape, and he manages to take the often-sibilant vocals and very immediate drums and make them work with the sweetness of the keyboards and the warmish guitar wash. Still, there is a lot of high-end and it's a little harsh at the higher volumes. This is not an album I recommend absolutely cranking. It's kind of caustic. The word "cacophonous" came to mind more than once.

tUnE-yArDs | w h o k i l l
After years of shows, Computer at Sea fish up an album
CD Reviews
Feeling bad with Good Kids Sprouting Horns
By SAM PFEIFLE | May 25, 2011

That's part of the band's aesthetic, of course, but the minute-long tag at the end of "Bad Apples," following a push-and-pull tension of "wandering through the broken down garden," does hint at what these guys could do with pristine instruments and terrific microphones. It's melancholy and minor, with a western acoustic guitar and keyboards like a digital xylophone that lend a dusty and rambling presence.

Is all of the fuzz a crutch? When the vocals are mixed, as in "Under a Cartoon Sky," so that there aren't so much harmonies as accompanying voices, are we being denied a certain amount of pretty? Is there a Lightning Seeds or World Party here just waiting to bust out?

In the end, I don't think so. Good Kids Sprouting Horns want you to be a little uncomfortable. It isn't just the psychedelic vibe they give off on "Homesick" and "Miniature Cowboys" that might remind you of the Doors. They also share that band's desire to take you out of your element, both with a sinister vamp and lyrics like "let my blue blood seep from my open pores," which isn't actually as maudlin as it reads.

It's Bitetti's believability that lets him succeed with the mumble he uses to begin "Cartoon Sky," paired with a heavily reverbed banjo and gradually getting less sleepy as the song progresses. "Will I be/Just like you," he wonders, hoping against hope. Seems unlikely. - Portland Pheonix

The Bangor-based Casio-folk trio Good Kids Sprouting Horns impressed me with their recorded material few months back and I have since been anxious to see if their live show could live up to my expectations. I was prepared to hear a set characterized by expressive melodies, plodding build-ups, and explosive choruses. I wasn’t ready for the band’s ability to make their well-crafted songs even better by turning bittersweet studio work into an enthralling rock show.

The group were nestled in the back of the recently-renovated Slainte on Saturday night, guarded by the striking red walls, with a disco-ball-like light as a backdrop. Even with a more space than before the remodeling, the venue was crowded — perhaps due to the buzz surrounding the band. Good Kids Sprouting Horns are one of two bands signed to the new Portland-based [dog] and [pony] record label led by Nick Poulin and Krister Rollins (the other, Jakob Battick & Friends, had played the night before).

There was a palpable, horror-movie-like tension in the down-tempo crescendos present in most of their songs. Frontman Anthony Bitetti has a tendency to let his foot dangle just above the overdrive pedal before blasting into the next chorus.

Primarily on guitar — and busting out a bass for a few songs — he seemed to swell and recede with each song, physically engaging himself in each lyric.
Bitetti’s voice oozes emotion — so much so that without the catchy melodies, Good Kids Sprouting Horns’ music would be depressing. Instead it is engaging and uplifting. Certain songs, like that night’s closer “Effigy,” will start off dark and spacious, but quickly turn into catchy, good-spirited romps. - Portland Phoenix

"Taking their name from an Andrew Bird song, Good Kid Sprouting Horns set the stage with their incredibly minimal setup of guitar, Casio keyboard, and small drum kit. While Horns’ music was rooted in folk, they showed different shades of influences from the lo-fi rock explosion of the 90s and a lick of alt-country. Anthony Bitetti’s voice was subdued and creaky and he could belt away in a beautiful descent. Horns’ performance was powerful and satisfying." - The Deli Magazine New England

Give Up The Ghost by Good Kids Sprouting Horns was recorded in a bedroom, and it sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom. Not to mention a thin bed of static. But that’s the thing – It’s real.
But sometimes real just means that you’ve heard this stuff before. The instrumentation is hardly ground-breaking — it is layered well enough, but sloppily. And much of the production doesn’t credibly offer the live feeling it seeks to create or stumble into much else.
The album begins with Popcorn Ceiling, the track posted below. It’s an ode to the thought of ever having to leave that place — that bedroom and the mental state it governs. The lyrics and arrangement recall countless conversations had in small rooms littered with out-of-date recording equipment and wires shaped like the red lines on your feet. Conversations that always seem to conclude, “what do we know?”

“Popcorn Ceiling” has the kind of sonic repetition that seems like the perfect kind of cynical in that bedroom, but hurts an album’s replay value in the real world.
For every time the purposefully off-kilter keyboarding produces a lively result, such as the second track, Double Digits, A Life Achievement there is a track like the appropriately named Effigy, that just seems out of place.
Still, it takes a certain amount of bravery to leave tracks like, “Headache” so sparce, with faint rolling percussion that lives outside a simple keyed melody on the choruses and vocals during verses.
“The sidewalks are cracking/ there’s no place left to step/ my god isn’t listening and he will not save our mothers” vocalist and lead guitarist Anthony Bitetti sings on the fourth track, “but if I had just a little more time/ I would tell you all the reasons I love to hide — tonight is the night we die.”
A bit over the top, yes. But if that’s the kind of thing that scares you away, you won’t like this album anyway. (The track concludes with about a minute of static-y chatter.)
Good Kids Sprouting Horns aren’t the only band of their sort with these kind of resources to make an album with this mood. But they pull the rare feat of to keeping it somehow fun and light — it’s not forced. Truly, the saving grace of this effort is that Good Kids Sprouting Horns are making real music in a genre dominated by fakery.
But it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the keys are mixed incorrectly in promising misfires like “Route One South.”
It’s almost frustrating that so many of the little things — atmospherics, short instrumental breaks, vocal inflection – are done so perfectly,yet the songs as a whole don’t produce enough rhythm to make you tap your feet, or evoke enough emotion to make you sad.
What “Give up the Ghost” most often needs is more creativity from the drumming. But the structure of the songs themselves also seems lacking.
Still, Good Kids Sprouting Horns can and does get it right at points in this album — the second half of “Tight White Lines” features an infections drum and key centered musical break — one of the rare times the instruments find a voice of their own in this effort. - Air and Sea Battle (.com)

Tony Bitetti hangs out in the basement a lot. Or he did until an extremely unfortunate event involving lots of water and lots of very expensive recording equipment occurred. Now he's more of a living-room-hanging-out kind of guy. Regardless of what room he’s in, Bitetti, a New England School of Communications graduate, probably is making music.

The basement in his old Orono apartment is where he spent February Album Writing Month in 2009, crafting a mess of indie-folk songs to complete the yearly challenge ( Those songs later became the foundation for a new band, Good Kids Sprouting Horns, but as of March 1, 2009, the day after FAWM ended, they were just acoustic guitar, Casio keyboard samples and vocals.

“I didn’t think too much about it. I mean, I had the songs, but I wasn’t, like, jumping at doing anything with them,” said Bitetti, who has played in bands such as Wood Burning Cat, Rotundo Sealeg and Some Damned English City. “I’m lazy. I needed to be thrown into the pit of boiling water and be forced to make something of them.”

That chance arose last fall, when Bitetti’s good friend Jakob Battick, formerly of Bangor-area band 1800s Sea Monster, put together a show at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bangor. Bitetti agreed to play the show. There was one problem, though: he didn’t exactly have a band.

Fortunately, he had two awesome musicians at his disposal. One was his old friend, drummer Ryan Higgins, also formerly of 1800s Sea Monster. The other was his girlfriend Jessamy Luthin, who happens to be a classically trained pianist.

Bitetti, Higgins and Luthin practiced those old songs really, really, quickly and played the show in November 2009, tacking the name Good Kids Sprouting Horns on at the last minute. The name stuck, though, and so did the lineup and approach. Six months later, in the present day, GKSH already has made a name for itself in Maine as a dynamic indie-folk band, layering keyboard, drums and guitar into an alternately hypnotic and sweet-natured mix.

“I think we were all influenced by music from bands from the alternative folk scene, like Okkervil River, and stuff like Deer Tick and Kimya Dawson, even Leonard Cohen,” said Bitetti. “It’s not pop music, but it’s not really, really folky, either. It’s somewhere in there. A little noisy, too.”

The shimmery, multilayered keyboard sounds are the province of Luthin, who grew up performing classical piano in orchestras and at recitals. GKSH is the first nonclassical music Luthin ever has played.

“The strangest thing for me is not having a conductor and not having sheet music,” said Luthin. “Tony learns everything by ear, so not seeing notes and reading a page was definitely a challenge for me. But I’m totally up for it.”

GKSH is set to play the Belfast Free Range Music Festival at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 24, at Waterfall Arts on High Street. It’s also opening for cult favorite indie-pop band Casiotone for the Painfully Alone on Thursday, April 29, at Geno’s in Portland, playing alongside Computer at Sea and Magical Beautiful. Their full-length album “Give Up the Ghost” is available at all their shows and through their MySpace and Facebook pages. The brand-new “GKSH” EP is available in a limited edition as well.

As for that basement studio that was damaged last year, Bitetti intends to reconstruct it this summer, in a new space.

For information on Good Kids Sprouting Horns, visit

By Emily Burnham - Bangor Daily News


"Give Up The Ghost" (2010)
(dog & pony records)
available on bandcamp

"We Are Animals" (2011)
(dog & pony records)
available on bandcamp

"Big/Small - EP", "EPone", "EPtwo", and "EPthree" have all been self released on limited-run physical copies. They are, however, free to download on the band's website.



Good Kids Sprouting Horns began in February of 2009 as Anthony Bitetti's solo project playing and recording acoustic songs with old casio keybards and electronic drum beats. He subsequently recorded the first album entitled "Give Up The Ghost". The album is a cycle of confessional songs with keyboard, and drums that have been described as "shuffling stop/start rhythms, and synths that are at times gorgeous and other times caustic." Immediately after the completion of this record, keyboardist Jessamy Luthin and drummer Ryan Higgins, joined and the band began playing shows in support of it. After a little over a year of playing the Portland area, KahBang music Festival, CMJ, and a small summer tour, the band recorded and released their second full length "We Are Animals". The album has a more full band sound, and brings the live show to record. The sounds achieved on the second record have been compared to the Doors and other genre pushing acts of the past.

Good Kids Sprouting Horns has a large list of different influences ranging form the emo of the early/mid 90's (Cap'n Jazz, Get Up Kids, Kill Creek, Texas is the Reason) folk and country of the 60's (John Prine, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash), and singer songwriters from the past to present (Buddy Holly, Warren Zevon, Elvis Perkins, Pete Yorn, Nick Drake, Micah P. Hinson).

Good Kids Sprouting Horns is an Organ driven band. Using old Casio's from the 70's and 80's they create an atmosphere that can be both dark and bright. The guitars can range from simple and folk-like, to loud and aggressive, with solid, rhythmic drumming. The vocals are emotional and authentic, creating a very powerful end result.

here are some nice things people have said about them

"...Good Kids Sprouting Horns are making real music in a genre dominated by fakery."
-Bassey, Air and Sea Battle

"Authenticity is everything in the indie scene and these guys have it down."
-Kegan Zema, The Maine Campus

"Good Kids Sprouting Horns want you to be a little uncomfortable. It isn't just the psychedelic vibe they give off on "Homesick" and "Miniature Cowboys" that might remind you of the Doors. They also share that band's desire to take you out of your element."
-Sam Pfeifle, Portland Phoenix

"The Good Kids have heart and an ear for the unconventional."
-Chris Busby, the Bollard

"With their fierce songwriting and performances, their music begs to be listened to."
-Dylan Martin, Dispatch Magazine