If you go
What: Jeff Cormack album release show
When: 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19
Where: Larimer Lounge, 2721, Larimer St., Denver, 303-291-1007
More info: larimerlounge.com
Jeff Cormack's work as songwriter and producer has found him success the easy way and the hard way.
In his solo work and with his band, South of France, good things seem to happen whether he's trying hard or just letting things flow.
His solo project happened by accident. He was working on music this summer for the Teton Gravity Research film "Way of Life." Two of the songs he wrote for the score — "Lovers Dream" and "We All Get Old" — spurred an urge to write more.
"I wasn't even really planning on making any solo songs," Cormack said. "Then, two of the songs that I wrote for the film, I ended up really liking a lot. It just inspired me to keep going, and I basically did an album in five days."
The result was a 10-track record titled Thirteen013 SummerDreams. It's not a drastic move away from his work with South of France, but the subtle changes make a noticeable difference. At times it's more ambient and in some moments, like "Sunshine's Gone," there's a druggy psych vibe. Where you could peg South of France as indie pop, this is more slippery.
"It's kind of pretty, you know?" Cormack said. "A few of the songs kind of have this Allah-Las vibe to it. It's like a garage-folky kind of rock thing."
As convoluted as that sounds, it's spot on.
He's releasing the album on almost as much of a whim as he created it. Having shared it with some friends, he was satisfied. Then the Larimer Lounge invited him to officially present the music to the public with a release show. It's all very serendipitous — one of those easy progressions of fate that can only happen when you're not paying attention.
"I think it was just an excuse for me to create and record without any pressure. We've been working on the South of France stuff, for the next album. It's almost hard to sit down and create because we want it to be so good and it has to be really good. With this project there's no expectations. It just came really easily. It's just guitar, drums, bass and a little bit of keyboard. I just took a room mic, one mic in the room, and pretty much did everything in one or two takes and ran everything through this vintage Rolland space echo."
That is far from what's happening with South of France. After putting out a debut record, Another Boring Sunrise, to more success Cormack expected, the bar is higher, and the band itself is helping raise it.
"I really put a lot of pressure on myself for the South of France album because I believe in it and I believe that with the right amount of work it could be really good," Cormack said.
Along with bandmates Kelly Lueke and Matt Jeffries, he's been at work on the next record. So far, they have 18 songs, but no idea of a release date or how to package and release them in the first place.
"I've just been working really, really hard on kind of developing the direction and production aesthetics for the next album, and just playing with new gear and tons of different recording techniques, and just really trying to find how we can make the next album really great," Cormack said. "I wanna do it totally on my own again. I don't know what it'll be, but it's definitely coming along."
He said they're contemplating making it a double album. He also said that even once it's done, the roll out will be slow and calculated. Opening for bands like Tennis and Rubblebucket, Cormack talked with them about how they get more attention beyond just sounding good. A good record alone is no good without anyone to listen to it, and so the talk becomes about different markets and PR strategies.
"With the first album, I guess, it was more or less just a 'whatever' experience. We had no expectations. We weren't waiting for someone to swoop in and make us indie-pop stars or something like that," Cormack said. "I think the biggest thing we've learned is that. It's almost sad because there's almost no point in having good music if there are no people out there who are gonna hear it or buy it or come to you shows."
So, once the record is done, South of France is going to focus on assembling the perfect team. They'll find a manager, record label, someone to help with PR. Cormack wants to craft a good press campaign and a tour ahead of the release. He said they're thinking about a short-term residence in Los Angeles or New York.
Right now, though, it's just about the way it sounds. That's where is starts and that's what success will ride on.
"At the end of the day, the music just has to be great," he said. "We know we have a lot of songs that we could hurry up and finish and put out, but there's no point until we have the right team. Me, I just want the music to be great. When the music's great, everything will go as it should."