By the light of the big screen

By Lisa Heffernan

Most bands are influenced by other musicians, but film actually plays a bigger role in shaping the sound of New York-based indie quintet Daylight’s for the Birds. The scene from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” for instance, where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are lying on the ice and looking up at the stars, inspired their catchy song, “For Now.”

“We’re drawn toward films that feel like a romantic, feverish dream, and that’s the kind of emotional response we try to evoke with our pop songs,” reveals Daylight’s guitarist Jay Giampietro.

The band often uses cinematic references to communicate moods during their early song writing process, realizing that a great film can touch all of the senses. Keyboardist/guitarist Phillip Wann has many muses, from Asian and French film directors to Woody Allen. “As far as film goes I tend to be really influenced by the quiet, colorful and transcendent films of Asian filmmakers like Wong Kar-Wai (“2046”) and Tsai Ming-liang,” ­— whose film “Early Summer” was the catalyst for their song of the same name.

Wann and Giampietro started working on their film-inspired music following the dissolution of their last band, On! Air! Library! (OAL). Before entering the studio, they recruited ex-OAL vocalist Claudia Deheza and drummer Brad Conroy, formerly of The Boggs, to sing and play on four tracks. Deheza soon left to work on other projects, but the boys found former model and Elliott Smith back-up vocalist, Amanda Garrett to complete their 10-song debut, “Trouble Everywhere” (This Generation Tapes). Its sound is reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, The Cure and My Bloody Valentine, but — true to Daylight’s influences — the album plays like the soundtrack to a dream with its swirly, layered guitars and keys alongside Garrett’s haunting, sweet vocals.

Daylight’s experimental dream pop is pleasurable enough, but their visual live performance is just as compelling. Garrett, who can be seen in the Rolling Stones’ video for “Anybody Seen My Baby?,” takes the stage wearing a crown of flowers with her goddess-like dress and Factory-era eyeliner. She occasionally moves maracas and bells in a Hope Sandoval-like fashion while Giampietro and bassist Dave Horton circle round. When played live, songs like “For Now” and “To No One!!” unexpectedly transform from shoegaze to rock with the help of Wann’s sonic sounds and Conroy’s drums.

The dark atmospherics of their live performance seem to gel with the band’s name, which is the title of an OAL song Wann was writing before they broke up. As Giampietro notes, “’Daylight’s for the Birds’ effectively describes all of our inadequacies towards being successful early risers.” Looks like they chose the right profession.

Check out Daylight’s cinematic sounds at the Mercury Lounge on December 21st at 8:30pm. www.myspace.com/daylightsforthebirds.