Nightlands Turned to Science, Sci-Fi and ELO on ‘Oak Island’

Photo: Catharine Maloney

Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings

When Dave Hartley isn’t playing bass with indie rockers the War on Drugs, he helms an intricate prog-pop solo project called Nightlands. That group’s latest release, Oak Island, contains 10 ornate tracks that Hartley has built from lushly arranged vocal harmonies and orchestrally layered instruments, the likes of which form the core of songs like the down-tempo “So Far So Long” and the shimmery, upbeat “I Fell in Love With a Feeling.” To find out where Hartley’s diverse inspirations come from, we interrupted a recording session where he was doing a Nightlands take on Fleetwood Mac’s “That’s All for Everyone.” From there, he told us his five biggest influences.

1. The Beach Boys

“My girlfriend makes fun of me for how often I play the Beach Boys,” Hartley says with a laugh. “They’ve brought me joy at every stage of my life. On my first record [Forget the Mantra] I recorded ”Til I Die,’ which is a Brian Wilson composition on Surf’s Up.” For the Nightlands musician, who sings in a men’s choir, the Boys’ vocal harmonies are one of their most beguiling features. “They’re the gold standard,” he says. “They just had a vocal blend that was completely absurd. They just sang.”

Embedded from