World Leader Pretend
To hear the band tell it, World Leader Pretend's competition in New Orleans was, "washboard zydeco bands and men in suits with trombones. There wasn't a scene, let alone a race to make it to the top." But the band, then a trio featuring singer Keith Ferguson, keyboardist Parker Hutchinson and drummer Arthur Mintz, knew that destiny awaited them and muddled on. Shortly after coming together, the trio attempted to record a handful of Keith Ferguson-penned tunes in a run-down hotel in a seedy part of New Orleans. Perhaps it was the band's inexperience or perhaps it was a one of the spirits New Orleans is fabled for, but nothing was sounding the way the band imagined it to sound. A good way through the recording process, the band came to the studio one morning only to find the window unit had crashed and a flock of pigeons had moved in. Clearly, the recording session had, excuse the pun, gone out the window. Desperate for a break, the boys wrote a bogus letter to the local newspaper pretending they were an irate concert promoter from Chicago. Smelling a story, the entertainment editor of the local newspaper interviewed the band, and the next day proclaimed the group the "next big thing." World Leader Pretend finally got the break they were looking for. With a spate of live shows booked and attendance swelling, the members knew they had to record something to sell at shows. They headed up to New York to Marcata Studios and immediately felt at home; the studio was filled with ancient analog equipment, vintage instruments and old microphones. The result was the band's debut album, Punches, which Warner Bros. released in June 2005. With its beautifully written songs, expansive pop arrangements and colorful use of instruments, Punches was deemed an engaging listen. A jangly guitar pop record shaped by soul music -- as well as the likes of Travis and R.E.M. -- Punches is both a stand alone gem as well as a loving nod to its influences.