Foreign Air’s intimate comeback to debut their second studio album ‘Hello Sunshine’

Alternative indie band Foreign Air performs at EXIT/IN after their three-year hiatus to give dedicated fans a sneak peek into their recently-released album, “Hello Sunshine.”

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Eigen Escario

Foreign Air performing at EXIT/IN, as photographed on Sept. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Eigen Escario)

Eigen Escario, Staff Writer

Philadelphia-native Anna Shoemaker rocked the stage on her first tour ever as the members of Foreign Air stood among the littered crowd at EXIT/IN on September 6. The audience was drawn to the guitar riffs and youthful lines that dripped from Shoemaker’s lips with confidence.

One such line stuck with me; Shoemaker sings, “I can get my life together, but I don’t want to,” in her song “Change My Mind,” acknowledging the power of contemporary youth to recognize and address their problems while simultaneously basking in the chaotic mess of it all.

After the opener, there were only about 20-30 people in attendance. All inched closer to the stage with anticipation as Jacob Michael and Jesse Clasen, accompanied by longtime collaborator Luke Adams, stepped on stage and immediately immersed everyone in the room with heavy bass, dark melodies and moody vibes. Foreign Air had entered the room.

Foreign Air performing at EXIT/IN, as photographed on Sept. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Eigen Escario)
Foreign Air performing at EXIT/IN, as photographed on Sept. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Eigen Escario)
(Eigen Escario)

They played the first song without much adieu: “Blue Days,” a number about the madness of isolation and critical self-reflection. The lights turned to a dim blue and the crowd took in the new song with the lyrics “I feel so rearranged, it’s like they chopped me up and put me in a suitcase.” 

This song is also the opening track on their new album “Hello Sunshine,” which came out last Saturday, Sept. 10. However, fans had gotten a taste of “Hello Sunshine” with the release of the single “Night at the Zoo” off the album earlier this past summer. Drummer Luke Adams talked a bit about the group’s writing process in an interview with The Hustler.

“‘Hello Sunshine’ was a compilation of songs from the last two years that went from everything from writing sessions in L.A. to New York to D.C.,” Adams said. “It kinda branches all kinds of different genres of music, which is really fun.”

Since the timeline of the writing process for this album coincided with the pandemic and consequent pauses in the live music scene, several songs reference feelings of hopelessness and pent-up frustration. These emotions were also reflected in the build-up to choruses’ hard-hitting production. Especially in “Anything Is Possible,” feelings of nihilism beg the question, “Is this real, or are we dreaming?” before the climax hits with repeated lines of the song title.

In their journey as a band for the past 3 years, Adams also talks about the evolution of their style, building on top of their repertoire with different sounds and vibes.

“There’s some songs that are definitely more electronic, harder kind of electro music that’s more indie-based,” Adams said of songs like “Night at the Zoo.” “The new stuff has some more indie-rock, little more all-acoustic instruments, kind of more bare-bones, which have been fun to get back to.”

Foreign Air performing at EXIT/IN, as photographed on Sept. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Eigen Escario)
(Eigen Escario)

Foreign Air’s songs are reminiscent of Chase Atlantic and other alternative artists who have tapped into the indie-rock-electronic genres effectively and consistently. In their time together, both Michael and Clasen have definitely tapped into their synergy to produce music that can play as the soundtrack to anyone who wants to feel like they’re walking around the city in an early 2000s movie.

While performing, Clasen shared an anecdote about “Dum Dum,” a song from the group’s previous album, “Good Morning Stranger.” The song features pitched and stacked layers of vocal melodies singing “dum dums,” resulting in a Christmas-carol feel for the track.

“I was living in Los Angeles at the time when I filmed my part [for the “Dum Dum” music video], so I’m in a full-body green screen suit, right?” recalled Clasen to the crowd. “So my door’s like *boom boom boom boom*… I answered the door in a full-body green screen suit and a blonde wig with some sunglasses on. I think I scared the guy. He was asking where his iPhone was. I said, ‘No, I don’t have your iPhone, dude. Get off my porch please, you’re scaring my cat!’”

For their first live, big-production show in three years, Foreign Air captured the audience’s eyes and ears for the entirety of their hour-long show. Their stage presence exuded charisma as they connected with the few people that showed up to enjoy the show, and the crowd reciprocated the energy.

“There’s some energies that you get when you do these live shows that we haven’t done in a long time, so it definitely fills you up and makes you feel good,” Adams said. “Seeing fans sing along to some of the old songs, and then introducing some of the new stuff, it’s really cool.”

The band finished off the show with “Free Animal,” the first song that they released on SoundCloud in 2016 and a track that was immediately sought out for commercial use for big name brands like Nike and Microsoft. Some dedicated fans in the crowd had tears streaming down their faces as Foreign Air ended the same way that they started—a full circle moment indeed.