ABOVE: THE NEW DIVISION
Synth-pop act The New Division may have started as a home-recorded outfit in Riverside, CA, but its lead-singer/chief creative force John Glenn Kunkel has since expanded his band’s blend of New Wave and house to very un-bedroom-like proportions. The New Division’s sophomore album, Together We Shine—following 2011’s Shadows—is a far more slick and expansive-sounding LP than his previous efforts. Part of the reason is Kunkel’s newfound confidence in the studio; but guest collaborators, including Keep Shelly In Athens’ Sarah P, Starflyer59, and The Killers’ lead-guitarist Dave Keuning, also bring welcome variety to the album’s 11 tracks; we’re pleased to offer a premiere stream of the entire album below.
Unfortunately for Kunkel, however, the road to recording Together We Shine wasn’t easy. A year into writing the album, Kunkel lost a hard drive containing all his in-progress work and was forced to begin again from scratch. Even so, Kunkel says that the new record is less dark than his previous outing—perhaps because he was more heavily immersed in club music. “It’s hard to pinpoint the exact music I was listening to during the making of TWS, but I recall listening to a lot of dance music, particularly trance and progressive house,” he says. “I took a lot of the sounds used in those genres, and tried to create something unique, with a New Division twist.”
The new record’s more confident sound also has to do Kunkel becoming more comfortable in the studio. “The songwriting and production on Together We Shine is completely different from Shadows. When I was making Shadows, I really had no clue what I was doing as far as production, but I had a good idea of how to write songs,” Kunkel explains. “It was really my first endeavor trying to make a full album with an electronic sound, as everything I’d previously written was predominantly guitar-driven.” The resulting 11 tracks range from atmospheric synth-pop (“England”), to emotional slow-burners (“St. Petersburg”), to Phoenix-reminiscent stadium rockers (“Stockholm”).