Hailing from Bologna, Italy, with the exception of front man Jonathan Clancy (who is Canadian) indie pop rockers A Classic Education combine sixties pop melodies with a guitar driven garage sound. The band formed in 2007 with Jonathan Clancy, Luca Mazzieri, and Paul Pieretto, and has since grown into a six-piece lineup with the inclusion of Giulia Mazza, Federico Oppi and Stefano Roveda. The band has enjoyed a heavy touring schedule these past few years including festivals CMJ, SXSW, and supporting British Sea Power. 2011’s Call It Blazing was released in October as a follow up from 2010’s Hey There Stranger. Call It Blazing is aptly titled, for while still maintaining their day jobs, the band needed to secure vacation time in order to come to the States, record their full-length album, and play CMJ all in one long-winded trip.
A Classic Education formed in Bologna, Italy, though this is of little consequence. In truth, the band doesn’t sound particularly informed by its hometown, or even its home country. Instead, the group plays a kind of timeless, worldly jangle-pop, one that is mostly associated with British acts like those of the C-86 variety but that translates well with indie-pop fans anywhere, and in any language. Although it should be noted that frontman Jonathan Clancy does sing in English, because he is from Canada. All those disparate parts come together on the quintet’s 2011 debut Call It Blazing. It’s a hazy, breezy, gently melancholy collection, one that conjures images of sitting on a beach on a grey, misty Sunday morning. A short, fuzzy piano intro transitions into “Baby, It’s Fine,” whose driving drums and downcast guitars recall the Strokes gone dream-pop. It’s the album’s purest and best pop moment. Things get a bit ghostly and foggy from there, however. “Grave Bird” is a spectral march, while “Forever Boy” rolls along above a haunting, low rumble. There’s a definite Velvet Underground influence at play; “Spin Me Round” has the ominous tone of White Light/White Heat’s “Here She Comes Now.” There are also traces—like in just about all bands with even a hint of appreciation for melody—of the Beach Boys, albeit of the group’s bipolar later period. “Terrible Day,” in particular, sounds like Brian Wilson standing on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and watching the apocalypse roll in off the horizon—a terrible day, indeed. Not all of Call It Blazing is so foreboding, though: “Billy’s Gang Dream” and “I Lost Time” actually twitch and sway a bit, and the closing ballad “Night Owl” breaks through the haze for a heartrending slow-dissolve suggesting that even if the world ends tomorrow, at least we’ll all go out together.