Today’s Song: WANDERERS’ Sweet, Irresistible “Penny” Channels Sunshine & Seduction

Wanderers © Samuel Graves
Wanderers © Samuel Graves
A feel-good singalong, WANDERERS’ “Penny” is a sweet love song full of rich harmonies, deep grooves, and irresistible hooks.
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Stream: “Penny” – WANDERERS




An Australian band channeling California’s sunny skies and sound, Adelaide’s WANDERERS are a beautiful blast from an evergreen past, making sweet yacht rock tunes for the present. The group’s first release of 2021 arrives with a hearty dose of dazzle and desire: A feel-good singalong, “Penny” is a sweet love song full of rich harmonies, deep grooves, and irresistible hooks.

Penny - WANDERERS
Penny – WANDERERS
She’ll be gone before you’ve heard her name
Like a moth that’s drawn into the flame
You’re not to blame
It drives you insane
There’s one thing on your mind boy 
Penny, penny
She is on your mind, all the time
Penny, penny
Oh it happens all the time

Released July 30, 2021 via Big Oak Records, “Penny” is a sun-soaked and sizzling pop delight: A brand new track ready to be played right alongside songs by The Eagles and Steely Dan, with a classic gleam and buoyant sonics that transcend the decades. Dreamy and funky, wistful and warm, WANDERERS’ seamless blend of soul-inflected soft rock has made them easy to love ever since their 2016 debut. Consisting primarily of Dusty Lee (Lead Vocals, Guitar) and Matt Birkin (Drums, Backup Vocals), the band have released a smattering of singles and EPs over the past six years, and were all set to fly to California and record their debut album in early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic put a hard pause on all travel plans. Now, the band’s forthcoming EP finds them reveling in their own local pastures, having been recorded “across a collection of Adelaide studios” over the past year.

A smoldering love song of sorts, “Penny” is easy to fall for – WANDERERS shine as they tribute the kind of figure who can enthrall you, flood you with feelings, and break your heart all at once. Even more engrossing is the song’s origin story, which, as the band tells it, is an adventure in and of itself:

“We don’t often write music while we’re on tour; we usually don’t have the freedom of time as we rarely stay long enough in one place to settle in and write,” Dusty Lee tells Atwood Magazine, “But this was one of those rare cases, a three-day festival that required us to bring all our gear back to our accommodation in between performances. The Queenscliff Airbnb we ended up in was basically frozen in 1968. Black phone on the wall complete with coily cable and rotary dial, magazines and books boasting Eames and Bauhaus interior design features on their half black and white pages, wooden panels on many of the surfaces inside that have been coated in a thick finish that reminded me of my grandparents house from childhood, and a smell that was strangely pleasant given the years behind its fragrance.”

“One night after performing a set that left us on a high, we set up a keyboard, my Stratocaster and ‘Rex’, this tiny amp I bought that was made in a similar era to most of the things in the house. Feeling a little jovial as we most definitely finished our rider that night, we carried on with the banter of the day which was based on the fact that I always had a packet of Rennies on me for my acid reflux. I don’t know why it was so funny to the others, perhaps the name of them or the fact that I would offer them around like a guy with a bum bag at a dance music festival… what ever it was, it stuck. We hit on these chords and started belting out ‘Rennies’ as the hook, in a Beegees-esque register. The whole thing was a big piss take really as Jack, Logan, Matt and myself each took turns singing random indigestion jokes at my expense, until it was clear that this could actually be a song… it just needed real lyrics, it was too catchy to just ignore.”

“So I scoured my brain for words that sounded like Rennies, and ‘Penny’ presented itself. Though, I didn’t want to sing a whole song about a form of currency that was probably already dated when this Airbnb was built. So I recalled that when I was 12 years old the movie Almost Famous came out and massively struck a chord with me. It had everything a young boy with a developing obsession with music and the opposite sex  could want. So naturally, ‘Penny Lane’ , the lead character played by Kate Hudson, became the second woman since Phoebe from Charmed that I had fallen deeply in love with. Her golden locks haunted my dreams (and still do occasionally). I would kick myself over the missed opportunities of ‘William’ the young journalist in the film as he too fumbled his way through his first crush, ultimately being majorly friend zoned.”

“Point is, this was an easy topic for me to write about.”

“‘She’ll be gone before you’ve heard her name, like a moth that’s drawn into the flame you’re not to blame, it drives you insane. There’s one thing on your mind boy…’ So I wrote this love song from William to Penny, about the goddess that simultaneously blew his mind while crushing his soul without even realising it. We had our verse and chorus ideas but wanted the song to go elsewhere in between. A pre chorus that takes the song away and brings it back, all in the space of a few seconds. That is what took us the longest. Rather than going into the musical theory side of the whole process, I’ll just say that when we hit on the magic chord change that glued everything together, Logan cried actual tears. It was either a blend of fatigue and relief or just pure musical bliss that led to this moment… but it was special… we’d found it and we were stoked. We took the song to the band and it really played itself. From the get go it felt like something from the LA West Coast in the ’70s. So with this in mind the instrumentation was clear. We put the lead line on a Juno Synth, Matt tuned his snare drum down to Eagles ‘One of these nights’ territory, Jack dialed in an electric grand piano sound (cp70) playing doobies esc syncopated rhythms and I hit the single note fuzzy lines on the guitar a la early Steely Dan. The vocals were recorded nearly two years after everything else over a couple of nights where I isolated myself in my dear friend Sam Britain’s studio here in Adelaide. I spent hours on the BVs drawing inspiration from the vocal arrangement of ‘Because’ by the Beatles and ‘god only knows’ by the Beach Boys, singing through a beautiful Neve Console he had recently purchased.”

Wanderers © Samuel Graves
Wanderers © Samuel Graves




 

She will leave before the moment’s gone
Her love is fading like the setting sun
And you want to run
Right into her arms
There’s one thing on your mind boy
Penny, penny
She is on your mind, all the time
Penny, penny
Oh it happens all the time

WANDERERS clearly knew they had struck gold on this song – and like the titular character herself, “Penny” is on our minds. A blissful, easy reverie, this song is our ticket to rest and relaxation; to ecstasy and euphoria; and to all those places in-between. Stream WANDERERS’ latest below, and stay tuned for more from these talented Aussies as they gear up to release their forthcoming EP.

Here’s hoping they can come visit the American West Coast soon enough, and bask in the fabled “California sun.” Nevertheless, their art is a testament to the fact that these days, you can make just about every sound from anywhere.

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Stream: “Penny” – WANDERERS



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Penny - WANDERERS

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📸 © Samuel Graves


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