It feels like yesterday that I had the pleasure of meeting Shael Riley and Ty Guenley, the masterminds behind the 8-bit indie rock band Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire and their newly-released album Ultimate Songs from the Pit. They had been visiting NYC to get the album mastered a year ago, thus bringing Shael and Ty in proximity to me and each other. This came not long after the Backfire’s success in funding the mastering through a Kickstarter, which gained nearly twice as much monetary pledges as the initial goal. The cash certainly didn’t go to waste: even songs from the band’s previous EP Songs from the Pit feel refreshed and immediate due to Drew Lavyne’s mastering and Ty’s mixing.
Although the process of finalizing and mass-duplicating the CD was long, Shael and Ty were hardly at rest in their music making. As incentive for the Kickstarter, the band recorded cover versions of songs commissioned by those who made large pledges; one such cover, a remake of Shael’s Castlevania homage “Juese Belmont” was posted at OverClocked ReMix. The Double Ice Backfire also contributed to albums that covered “Weird Al” Yankovic and They Might Be Giants. My favorite song from Ultimate Songs from the Pit, “Hobby Model” almost seems like a cover itself, with its refrain resembling that of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman”.
Genius loves company, and so the album has a fair number of guests. Fellow chip rocker Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons shares lead vocal duties on “Bootstraps” while Schaffer the Darklord drops lines into “Publishing Rights”. Additional rhyme-spitting comes courtesy of Mega Ran on “Area Dolls” and Billy the Fridge in “Rarest of Elements”. Ricky Henry, the ‘third-ice’ in the band’s live shows, was responsible for the album artwork. Ultimate Songs from the Pit is available now at Bandcamp for streaming and as a paid download, with the lead track “How to Fire a Gun” as a free single.