Arts Desk

One Track Mind: The Walking Sticks, Send the Night

walking-sticksStandout Track: No. 1, "Send the Night," a mildly funky pop tune crafted by the Silver Spring twins Max and Spencer Ernst, 23, and McLean vocalist Chelsea Lee, 22. A synthesized flute opens the track like the credit music of a spaghetti western. Somewhere behind these moody synths, a villain lurks: “Left me standing bare in the river/Took all my clothes, threw them to the summer,” Lee sings.

Musical Motivation: Lee wrote the lyrics based on a relationship that turned sour. She says the original chorus “was a little bit too dark,” so the band reworked it. “What’s the meaning of American life?” is now the song’s big question. With that addition, the tune “was no longer just about that friendship that went south,” Spencer says.

Santa Cause: The EP, which is available as a free download on Bandcamp, is a modest release for Lee and the Ernst brothers, who have already tangoed with the music industry. The Ernsts had a publishing contract until last year, and Lee was previously signed to Atlantic Records, which released her debut solo album, 18 and Alive, in 2011. But they all started out humbly enough. The brothers began writing music together at age 5, wanting to get on the good side of a neighborhood Santa. "We believed he was Santa," Spencer says. "And we thought, 'Shit, we gotta write him a good song.'" Lee, on the other hand, was just a shy kid who liked to sing in the shower, until one day, when her dad signed her up for surprise voice lessons. "And basically I wanted to throw up the whole day, I was so nervous," she says.

Listen to "Send the Night" after the jump. The band plays the Takoma Park Street Festival on Oct. 6.

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