Night Heron is a new entry into the once-very-crowded genre of alternative R&B, featuring Cameron Spies, the frontman of Pacific Northwest indie band Radiation City. they’ll be releasing their debut album Instructions for the Night on May 14 through Literal Gold Records. Today we’re premiering the album’s first single, a relaxed synthy track that combines the best of alt-R&B and chillwave.
Like all of the best chillwave tracks, the song is based around a beat that straddles the line between downbeat and mid-tempo, flush with retro-style synths that sound like they’re straight out of an ’80s infomercial. The vibe-y vocals and laid-back instrumentals recall the early days of chillwave, most specifically Washed Out’s 2011 debut Within and Without. The theme of Instructions for the Night is described as instructions for those that are up at night against their will, whether it’s because of a big fight that keeps you tossing and turning, the seemingly never-ending fits and spurts of wakefullness caused by new parenthood, or really any other kind of anxiety that keeps you tossing and turning.
“One of the first songs written for this album and was a somewhat accidental collaboration between Cam and Sara,” said the band about the song “Cam was strumming some chords in one room while sara absent-mindedly hummed the melody and lyrics to what would become the song’s chorus in the other room.”
The album was recorded by Spies and the mother of his child shortly after they became parents in 2018. As they struggled with the trials and tribulations of raising a new child, with the added backdrop of a global pandemic, Instructions for the Night became a release for these emotions. The songs at times are full of emotion but so sonically subdued that the vocals are often nothing more than a subtle whisper. As Spies said, “No matter how soft I sang, it always seemed heavy handed, until I was basically whispering.”