“I learned… how to tell a clear story and make the painful edits,” says Ceramic Animal’s Chris Regan of working on songs with Dan Auerbach for the band’s latest, Auerbach-produced outing, Sweet Unknown. And so, the evolutionary path of successful the DIY band from Doylestown, PA was charted. But the pairing with Auerbach was almost random, as the band had always kept everything in-house from the time they formed through their three self-released, self-produced albums, which attracted a large following. So large a following that some Ceramic Animal tracks land on streaming playlists which is where Auerbach found them, prompting him to delve further into the band.
“I liked what they had going on,” commented Auerbach. “And I liked how obviously hard-working they are.” After speaking to the band, he invited them to Nashville to make their next record, which started with Regan’s trip to write with not only Auerbach, but also Desmond Child, Pat McLaughlin, and Angelo Petraglia, which turned into Regan’s graduate class in his craft.
“In the past I’ve written some pretty vague lyrics because I wanted people to be able to read into the songs whatever they wanted or needed,” explained Regan. He goes on to talk about all the things he learned, summing it with, “The point is to communicate as clearly as possible.” That clarity is evident all through Sweet Unknown, the Ceramic Animal album that emerged from those sessions in Nashville, their first for Easy Eye Sound/Concord.
While it’s rare to find an album that has 10 concise, entertaining and engaging songs, it’s even more astounding to find those 10 tracks to be completely stylistically diverse while managing to have a cohesion that defines them as Ceramic Animal songs. Ranging from the jangly pop of Sweet Unknown’s opener, “Tangled,” giving way to the ’80s-Alt of “I Can’t Wait,” to the silky soul found in “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” to the rockin’ closer, “Valerie,” each track takes the listener on an auditory journey that is as satisfying as it is diverse.
Ceramic Animal heads out on tour in June and will continue through the summer, including a run opening for The Black Keys, plus an appearance at the JBE Triple A SummitFest. In the meantime, the support for the band radio is starting to build, with WXPN, 88.5FM/LA and WBJB among the early supporters.