The Soothing Sounds of ‘Year of October’

Year of October

In an age when the radio stations predominately pump the newest dance mix, the beverage in any persons’ hands more than likely is liquid crack, and society is screaming “go,go,go!”, it is always nice to tap into the underlying urge for relaxation lying inside, and that is exactly what the Lexington band Year of October entices their listeners to do.

Year of October‘s soothing sounds penetrate any worry, stress or discomfort and can bring the listener back to their roots, returning the feeling of ease that is so frequently lost within the pace of life.

The three piece band, made up of Phlecia Ellington, Nathan Smith and Josh Sullivan, has been playing together since taking a trip to Myrtle Beach for 2010 Spring Break.  Now, a little over a year later, the three continue to practice, record and play, all while attending classes at the University of Kentucky.  Ellington, Smith and Sullivan, will all be graduating this spring from the College of Communication, but for now their focus is on the music.

After a busy final semester, Year of October is spending more time recording and practicing.  Smith said they now have a chance to get out in Lexington and play more shows, but the band is also approaching the difficult task of getting its name out in the public through emerging forms of multimedia and marketing.  Year of October  has a Facebook, Myspace and Bandcamp page, where fans can listen to and download its music for free.

Ellington said they are also planning a move to Nashville were they will rent a house, live together with a few more friends and write more music.  In addition to their already hectic schedule of school, work, music and moving, Ellington and Sullivan are getting married this summer.  Nonetheless, the band took the time during UK’s finals week to play a few songs.

Year of October's Phlecia Ellington and Josh Sullivan

Instruments sit around the room like an audience.  The melody of the song and the rise of Phlecia’s voice resonate against the walls in the small basement room  where the band practices and records.  Sullivan and Smith sway as they play the chords, and the soul of the lyrics is evident on Phlecia’s smiling face as she appears to feel the words she has sung so many times before.  Her voice is powerful, yet soft, contrasting sounds melting together seamlessly.

“Everything I ever wanted…Ever needed, is just love.”

The words are reminiscent of those by John Lennon a half century ago, near the time the photo on Josh’s t-shirt was taken.  The Beatles are an influence on the band, but Sullivan said only one of many.  Ellington’s powerful voice combined with the soft tones of the guitars, banjo or bass, have a similar style to Nora Jones and Ryan Adams.  Smith added his love for The Black Keys  while Sullivan said his favorite band was Radiohead.

Year of October's Josh Sullivan prepares to play another song

Music is not the only source of inspiration however.  “I can be in a writing drought, and a book, or the music in a film, will influence me,” Sullivan said.  Ellington said she has been  influenced by authors such as Fitzgerald and Salenger, and filmmakers like Wes Anderson.

The tempo changes as the band plays one song to the next.  Their influences breath inspiration into their creative process, while feeling and originality can be heard blossoming within.  The band is young, but as all three members said, they are evolving.

Sullivan said the band’s sound comes from the common ground that emerges in each members influences and style.

“We can do any music we want to,” Sullivan added.  “As long as you stay true to yourself, that’s the most important thing in music.”

The banjo emerged after Smith talked of Bela Fleck.

Year of October's Nathan Smith tunes his guitar

“Went down the road many times,” Phlecia sings, the way one would with the plucking of the banjo in their head..

The songs would sound perfect in a film, as an emotional scene fades into the future, leaving a memory in the characters and audience alike, the rhythm continuing  as the visuals change.   It’s an emotional blend of bittersweet appreciation and reminiscence

As the band finishes their last song, their innocent smiles show their obvious love for music.  They don’t know what the following years might bring, but this love extends past any optimism in the music industry.

“I would love a chance to tour, just once,” Smith said.  “To travel from city to city crammed in a van, playing music.”

Doing what you love is the dream of most people, it provides a little relaxation in the midst of a otherwise stressful life, and it is this same feeling that calms the mind as Year of October plays.  The songs might be about love lost or found, or just the journey along the way, but what can be said is it is a little easier with Year of October playing in the back of your mind.

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