Chapell – Stories reside inside of songs
Between rhythms, riffs, beats, and melodies, these tales unfurl driven by characters immortalized in the lyrics. This storytelling drives Chapell. The New York band led by enigmatic front man Alan Chapell recounts real and raw stories throughout a prolific catalog of genre-agnostic pop amplified by rock energy, jazz soul, new wave adventurousness, Americana vulnerability, and even Latin flavor. Streamed over 1 million times as of 2020 and acclaimed by everyone from Vents to Spill and On Stage Magazine, the group delivers an identifiable and irresistible narrative pastiche with their fifth independent full-length, CINCO.
“Thematically, the album is a whole bunch of anecdotes about people I know,” Alan explains. “It’s the linchpin of the record. We’re always telling stories on stage. The audience tends to respond when it’s real. It comes down to honesty and vulnerability. Musically, we’re still evolving, borrowing from various genres, and creating our own thing.”
That “thing” continues to morph in the most majestic of ways. Alan builds on a lifetime devoted to music, dating back to his first sessions in the studio alongside iconic producer Jimmy Ienner at 15-years-old and his twenties spent in Mumbai fronting Kalki. 2017 saw him introduce the world to Chapell with The Redhead’s Allegations, produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame. A pair of albums—Soul Man and Love in the Summer of Trouble—followed a year later. Along the way, the group emerged as a live phenomenon. In 2019, they reached new peaks on Penultimate. The single “I Am Zuck” generated 267K Spotify streams, and “Ride” clocked upwards of 133K Spotify streams.
In between packing houses at regular gigs, Alan commenced writing for what would become CINCO in 2019. Sticking to a Saturday routine of “getting up, doing yoga with [his] wife, and writing songs,” he carefully assembled nascent ideas. Those ideas served as the basis for CINCO. This time around, Chapell recorded at Power Station New England in Waterford, CT. Retreating from the hustle and bustle of New York City, the band holed up in a big house together. Around dinners cooked by Alan’s wife, the musicians bonded at night as they tracked in Power Station during the day, imparting what he describes as “a family vibe” on the recording.
The vibe courses through the single “Shout.” Constructed around resonant piano, a simmering beat, airy guitar, and flourishes of cinematic violin, the track climaxes on an immediately infectious chant of self-empowerment about “being who you are, celebrating that, and shouting it out loud.” Then, there’s “NewSonic” where funkified riffing collides with shimmering 80s keys and violin. On the tune, Alan’s voice takes flight with an invitation “to a place where the music and magic are found.” Meanwhile, “On The Rooftop” assumes the perspective of “a random enclave of nomad musicians in the seventies” and hosts a lawless, lusty, and lively dance party sound-tracked by a danceable groove, shakers, and hummable riffing.
He smiles, “I wanted to create a vibe of what it was like in New York before there were any rules and laws. It’s when you could hang out on a rooftop, dance, drink, and party all night. It was a really romantic idea.”
Elsewhere, harmonica and gliding guitar conjure strains of Americana (by way of the Big Apple) during “Say Goodbye.” Somber acoustic piano bleeds through “All I See,” which recreates the intensity of a disintegrating love inspired by a sad string of divorces in the front man’s friend circle. Everything culminates on “The Entertainer.” The tension of upright bass, violin, and piano underscores his immense vocal performance. Lyrically, it details “what it’s like to write songs, get on stage, and not feel like you belong there. It pulls back the curtain on being a musician.”
This sort of intimacy defines the Chapell experience. Whether you’re witnessing a raucous performance on stage or listening to CINCO at home, Alan and his cohorts welcome you to be a part of the story.
He leaves off, “Listeners want to feel like they genuinely belong to something. We notice that during gigs. It’s similar to how you go to church in order to feel a certain thing. For us, the goal is to do something similar. We want to bring the feeling of hope and we want to have a good time with you!”