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Sounds of Summer

On a porch in Athens, Zachary Gresham sits in idyllic surroundings to discuss his band, Summer Hymns, who've just released their third album, titled Clemency (Misra), of breezy psych-prog/folk-flecked indie rock.

"On the most basic level, a summer hymn has a good melody," Gresham says, while birds chirp peacefully nearby. "We're about letting everything happen at once, receiving a moment without questioning it. There are no criteria, as long as a song's pretty." A remodeler by day, Gresham's ideas about songwriting reflect his craft. "Sometimes an idea is a scene to build," he explains, "and you use tools to construct the set you believe should be around it based on where you are and where you aren't."

Not every Summer Hymns' song recalls birdsong and the lazy sway of a front-porch swing, however. Inspiration derives from sources as diverse as drunken catcalls (the genesis for an upcoming EP) and the surrealistic vision of filmmakers.

Efforts to find a firm container for such impressionistic material recently paid off in some lineup changes. Of Montreal's Derek Almstead and Dottie Alexander left, and bassist Matt Dawson and pedal steel player Matt Stoessel stepped in beside Gresham and drummer Philip Brown.

The group also benefited from their recording session at the Nashville studio of Mark Nevers (of Lambchop). The result is a more precise, stripped-down recording that fully captures their hazy psychedelia yet maintains the sincerity and frail poignancy of earlier albums.


Summer Hymns plays the Earl Thurs., July 10. $7.