CVIndependent

Tue02182020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

While the Coachella Valley has birthed some of rock’s greatest musicians and has been overflowing with intense musicality for decades, record stores here are few and far between.

In fact, there’s really only one provider of CDs, vinyl and all other things that music fans need—and that store has been doing so since 1978.

“Record Alley is the hub of music,” said Scott McLaughlin, a Record Alley employee and local musician. “Back in the day, everybody used to come in here—celebrities and even local stars like Joshua Homme or Jesse Hughes. It was a cool hangout spot, even back when it was just CDs.”

Turns out Record Alley is still a cool hangout spot: The store has started hosting performances by two music acts each Sunday afternoon. These shows are planned by McLaughlin; I sat down with him recently to discuss his musical journey and the future of Record Alley.

“My great-great-uncle actually wrote ‘La Cucaracha,’” said McLaughlin. “Music has been in my life since I was born. My uncles played Mexican music, and Led Zeppelin was big in my family.

“I moved here when I was in the fifth-grade, and in seventh-grade, I took percussion class and learned how to play drums. I went through marching band and jazz band, then got to my punk phase. Nothing to Lose was my first punk band, and then I switched to pop-punk with my band Losing Team, who you can still find on Spotify. I made a solo album by myself in college, and when I moved back from San Diego, my brother (Brett McLaughlin of Caxton) asked me to start Reborn by the Sunshine with him.”

Reborn by the Sunshine has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, and McLaughlin has been able to meet many artists he admires at various shows. These connections helped lead to the decision to have regular performances at Record Alley.

“I’ve always wanted to book bands that I like and give them a platform,” said McLaughlin. “It makes the store and the mall fun on busy Sundays. I’m sick of going to Big Rock or The Hood and seeing the same bands all the time. I want to pull deep from Joshua Tree and the (Coachella) Valley to find artists who don’t have a shot at playing some of the venues around here. It’s a more quiet, intimate crowd here, and it’s been working.”

Beyond giving local artists another place to play, McLaughlin and Record Alley are working on providing even more for local musicians.

“I’m trying to get the word out more. I’ve been working on a YouTube channel that features the performances here,” McLaughlin said. “We interview the bands and show one of the songs they play and upload it for them to use as promotional material.

“If anyone wants to perform here, then send me a message on Instagram!”

Shows take place at 2 p.m. every Sunday at Record Alley, inside the Westfield Palm Desert, 72840 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.instagram.com/recordalley.

Reborn by the Sunshine has flown somewhat under the radar for the last two years—but that’s now changing, thanks to the group’s new EP, These Old Feelin’s.

The five-member band has a rustic Americana sound with some roots rock ’n’ roll thrown in. During a recent interview at Luscious Lorraine’s in Palm Desert with frontman James Dorris and bassist Brett McLaughlin, they explained how they began as a band.

“We started with songs that I wrote myself that were just me and a guitar,” Dorris said. “Once Brett started playing with me, things just started to change, and we started making different songs. Over the past two years, we’ve been a band and have been writing together, and our music has developed differently. I don’t feel there was ever a script, or, ‘This is exactly what we want!’ … We have a broad spectrum of music to pull from, and that’s why it falls into that Americana/roots-rock genre.”

Said McLaughlin: “We definitely wanted a throwback vibe—stuff that we used to listen to when we were kids, something that would jog memories. We wanted our songs to have their own vibe.”

Dorris and McLaughlin said it can be challenging to write songs that represent the band’s identity.

“Finding your own sound is the hardest thing in the world,” Dorris said. “It’s something we’re still doing. We’re writing songs, and we’re more comfortable writing with each other. Our music is still taking all these different turns.”

Added McLaughlin: “What helps is pulling things from different band members. “That way, we can come up with our own genre, just with different riffs. Even Scott (McLaughlin), our drummer, comes up with riffs to incorporate into a jam (with guitarist Brian Gelesko), and we can see if there’s a song later on.”

These Old Feelin’s was recorded at Hi-Dez Recording in Joshua Tree.

“Our engineer was Nathan Sabatino,” Dorris said. “It’s a really cool spot up in Joshua Tree in the middle of nowhere. You have to drive for a couple of miles on an actual dirt road and scratch up your car. But you get there, and it has this beautiful energy to it. I feel like everyone always says that about the studios and Joshua Tree, but there is a great feeling when you walk into the room. We tracked most of the EP live and did overdubs for vocals. Most of it was live runs.”

McLaughlin said the studio felt like home.

“It’s very comfortable. I think it was easy to record in that space because of that,” McLaughlin said. “Nathan’s mixing board is in a shipping container. It’s separate from the actual studio. You’ll see him through the glass in this giant shipping container on his computer.”

Both Dorris and McLaughlin said that recording live, all in a room together, made them a better band.

“You really have to connect in a room like that, because you’ll be staring at each other trying to figure out these songs and tracking them,” Dorris said. “I’d absolutely do it again. There’s something to that. Anyone can track a guitar, drums, bass and vocals individually and do it in a day. It’ll sound decent, but there’s this real warmth from having bleed from the drums, the guitars, and vice versa. That’s how it all used to be, and that’s why there’s all that warmth in those old records.”

Added McLaughlin: “(After) the rigor and that constant playing the songs together over and over like that—we grew as a band. If you ever want to grow as a band, record live, because you have to be a good band to do that.”

Reborn by the Sunshine prefers to play live shows just every so often rather than regularly.

“We get offers all the time to play,” Dorris said. “People who can go out every week and play—that’s great. With a band that’s new, when you’re writing new material, and when you’re trying to develop your sound … we like to play once every six to eight weeks, maybe once every three months. Every time you see us, you might see something different, especially now since we have music out. It gives people more of an opportunity to know our sound.”

Both Dorris and McLaughlin are currently dealing with family additions. Dorris’ wife, Chelsea, the band’s banjo player, is currently expecting their third child. McLaughlin arrived at the interview stating that he only had two hours of sleep after caring for his newborn baby while his wife was recovering.

“You need to have something (creative), especially when you have children,” Dorris said. “I always tell everyone, ‘(Having children) is the most beautiful and amazing thing that can happen to you, and it’s also the hardest thing that can happen to you.’ It makes you a different person. So if you have that release like music to get that creativity out, it’s a good thing.”

Dorris then added with a laugh: “Or, you can start drinking, I guess.”

For more information on Reborn by the Sunshine, visit rbtsmusic.com.