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Maniac EP - January 2010



Although separated by earth’s largest ocean, frontmen Shawn Harris and Jake Grigg--linked by love for sincere, undisguised pop--have created a new project: Maniac.
They wrote their first song together on the way to the grocery store. That same day, Shawn, who had just completed an Australian tour with his band the Matches, cancelled his flight home to California, staying to write with Jake, singer of the Australia-based Something with Numbers. The magnetism was inescapable. Eventually though, long-booked tours with their respective bands pried them apart.
In March of 2009, Shawn and Jake reunited in the industrial outskirts of Sydney, where they converted an office-complex boardroom into the perfect demo studio. Covered floor to ceiling with handwritten posters full of lyrics and tribal mantras, the room became a creative island they left only to get food or perform underground DJ sets in the city. They slept on foam vocal-booth baffles when they slept at all. In two three-week sessions in the island, they wrote, engineered, sang, played, and programmed 16 demos more finessed and realized than most albums.
Their synth lines soar through a stratosphere somewhere between MGMT, the Moody Blues, and a John Williams film score. The rhythm section grooves like Sting playing for Stevie Wonder. And their emphasis on melody and neglect of gain knobs and crash cymbals could have been influenced by Cat Stevens as easily as Vampire Weekend. But perhaps the music's most notable characteristic is its vocals: Jake’s and Shawn's voices tracked simultaneously on one microphone, weaving doubles into harmonies and octaves, while their stomping feet and clapping drives behind, giving the songs a primitive, live exuberance.
That exuberance--Maniac's spirit--springs from the kinship between Jake and Shawn. It's the sound of two people doing what they love, and who are not embarrassed to share it. In a world where pop songwriting often hides behind edgy production or a hipper-than-thou attitude, it’s refreshing to feel invited rather than excluded. Harris and Grigg are on the verge of a new classic, and it won’t be long before Maniac spans more oceans than one.