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In a fever dream, the temperature rises, and reality slips in and out of focus. You may be asleep, but you never forget how it felt (even if the details remain fuzzy).
Cycling through states of mind and fits of feeling, CANNONS ebb and flow between otherworldly electro-soundscapes and evocative vocal transmissions, layering breezy pop atop cinematic sonic architecture. The L.A. group -- Michelle Joy [vocals], Ryan Clapham [lead guitar], and Paul Davis [drums, keys] -- physically incite body movement and mentally provoke thought. After amassing hundreds of millions of streams and earning acclaim from Consequence, OnesToWatch, LA Weekly, and more, the trio captivate like never before on their third full-length offering, Fever Dream [out March 25 via Columbia Records].
"A fever dream is a strange situation that feels like a dream," Michelle observes. "It's a confusing experience. You're dreaming, but you're also awake. This sentiment threads through the album. Over the last couple of years, writings songs lifted our spirits. These songs came from different places for all of us even though we went through life together. So, we used this medium as an escape from reality. We hope listeners can exit to a dreamscape in our music."
CANNONS have consistently enabled escape via their songs. Following a tireless grind, they quietly shook-up popular culture with their 2019 independent sophomore outing, Shadows. The single "Fire For You" initially toppled The Hollywood Reporter's Top TV Songs Chart at #1 in the wake of a placement on NETFLIX's Never Have I Ever. The success translated to multiple radio formats as they clinched #1 on both Alternative and Triple A, earning them a 2022 iHeart Radio Award nomination for 'Best New Alternative Artist.' With the song notably eclipsing 77 million Spotify streams, SiriusXM touted the band on the "Class of 2020," while YouTube named CANNONS among its "Artists on the Rise." Beyond inciting critical applause, they wowed audiences at Lollapalooza, Firefly, Outside Lands, and more.
Along the way, they carefully assembled what would become Fever Dream. The musicians worked out of Paul's home studio, while Michelle cut select vocal tracks alone at home.
"We were all in a different headspace from our last album," she admits. "COVID turned our lives upside down. So, it always felt like, 'Is this really happening?' It's a fever dream for the whole world. At the end of 2019, I was working three jobs on top of writing songs and playing with CANNONS. Then, there was nothing, because everything shutdown. It was scary. I lost my job. I didn't know how I was going to pay rent and buy food. Then, all of our biggest dreams came true with the band. Life took another turn. It's still surreal."
The single "Bad Dream" introduced this body of work. Neon synths glow underneath a thick bass line as Michelle's vocals hovers towards the hummable hook, "I've been living in a bad dream."
"I usually run to ease stress," she explains. "One day, I was running down the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Usually, it's very happy. People are smiling and having fun. This time, it was depressing, and everyone looked scared, so I wrote some lyrics on my Notes app. For as dark, personal, and rough as the words are, the vibe is very upbeat. If you're scared and frustrated, you can relate. There's also a good feeling instrumentally. It's a whole meal instead of being either just super bitter or super sweet."
Meanwhile, whistles chirp around a funky guitar lick on "Hurricane." Flush with synths and handclaps, it hinges on a catchy and confident chorus, "I'm coming back like a hurricane. I'm gonna take you higher."
"I wrote most of the lyrics to that song in my bedroom almost overnight," she recalls. "It's really about stepping into my own strengths."
Indicative of the band's evolution, "Purple Sun" leans into island energy with steel drums, while "Tunnel Of You" channels California country as guitar rolls like tumbleweed into fluttering horns. The danceable opener "Come Alive" struts forward on a head-nodding beat as she invokes "the beginning of obsession and love." The breathy "Afterglow" culminates on a pledge, "I'll follow you into the sun."
The record strikes its emotional apex on the finale "Lightning." Acoustic guitar resounds through a soft haze, and the vocals resound, "You are the only thing I've ever gotten right."
"I've always been a hopeless romantic," she says. "It's about finding the right person for you and trusting someone with your heart. Musically, it's one of the first times we've used acoustic guitar, and it makes the track even more intimate."
In the end, CANNONS sound like a dream in the best way.
"These songs kept us going, so I hope people will find a piece of themselves inside of the record," Michelle leaves off. "I've realized how important it is to feel connected to others. I just want everyone to feel a little less alone. There are some lonely songs, some longing songs, and some love songs. Fever Dream represents everything CANNONS is."