Standout Track: “Big Sur,” a spacey, surfy garage composition—led by Anthony Pirog’s wildly distorted guitar riffs surrounded by Janel Leppin’s cello—that would feel as natural in a wild road movie as in an Indian street market. A cut from Janel and Anthony’s upcoming sophomore album Where Is Home, “Big Sur” advances a sonic marriage of Pirog’s rangy guitar playing to Leppin’s continent-spanning cello expertise that was hinted at on the duo’s self-titled debut in 2006 and flourishes in its newest recordings.
Musical Motivation: “John Fahey, Bill Frisell, Derek Bailey, Nels Cline,” Pirog says, rattling off influences. Leppin starts with Debussy but also cites Alice Coltrane and Susan Alcorn. Leppin and Pirog met 10 years ago in high school in Vienna, Va., where they started playing together and bonded over Jim O’Rourke. The act known as Janel and Anthony started in 2005, while Leppin also plays bass in Pirog’s band The Bang. Among other projects, Leppin toured earlier this year with Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, while Pirog is part of This, a new trio led by former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.
On the Fly: That “Big Sur” is much more polished than any of the tracks on the duo’s debut can be credited in part to the fact that it had much more lead time to lay down the new album—it’ll be out in early 2011. “The first album was done in a week,” Leppin says. “It was written in a week and recorded in another week.” Still, their recordings are only a fraction of their sound. “Half our concerts are completely improvised,” Pirog says. “It’s natural,” Leppin adds. “We just listen to each other and vibe off each other.”