In late May, local four-piece Burning Pictures released its first single “Seaglass,” a dreamy Americana tune that could easily accompany a drive up the California coast.
On lead vocals is singer-songwriter Joe Kaplow, an artist already beloved in town, but this isn’t his band, per se. He’s one of four equal members—with Bobcat Rob Armenti, Michael Whalen and Elliot Kay—who take turns writing and singing songs. It’s a local all-star Americana supergroup.
“Joe will write a song that’s a very intimate, heartfelt thing. And then Mikey will bring in something that’s got a much more danceable, up-tempo, funky vibe to it,” Kays says. “Certain people in the band contribute different elements that are all important to the music.”
The group plans to showcase this diverse talent by releasing three more singles this year (and eventually, a full-length record). Each song will be written by a different member of the band, who will also sing lead, with the exception of Kay, who writes but doesn’t sing lead.
“We idolize a lot of bands from back in the day that were great being a sum of their parts,” Kay says, like The Band and the Beatles. “It’s really difficult to keep multiple people together in the same place long enough to really build something together.”
The group played its first official show in April, but the members have played together for over a year. They used to be the backing band in Kaplow’s solo project.
Eventually, Kay says, the group decided, “Let’s just give it a band name and all write and contribute our material and have it be more of a democratic thing.’”