ASK SOUVENIR DRIVER'S Nate Wey for a few of his all-time favorite bands, and he might talk for nearly three minutes before even getting to music.
"I'm really into cinema, reading literature, taking walks, thinking about women, cities, and nature," Wey says. "I guess I'm more influenced musically by atmosphere than I am by other bands."
In Wey's mind, Souvenir Driver's new album Living Water was shaped by the sentence structures and word choices of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector just as much as any of his favorite music. (Which, by the way, includes Talking Heads, late '70s and early '80s post-punk, Nine Inch Nails, shoegaze, Radiohead, and so on.)
Eventually, Wey runs through some of his bandmates' proclivities: Ethan Homan's into hiphop and heavy metal. Travis Hendricks digs electronic and pop music. And then he hits on Souvenir Driver's common thread.
"Bob [Mild] is super into bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Dandy Warhols," Wey says. "I think we're all huge fans of [those two bands]. Those might be, like, the bands that connect us. We all love My Bloody Valentine, too."
Indeed, one spin through Living Water checks off several of the aural attributes that stem from that triumvirate: "Feel the Flood" features a repeated keyboard hook that sounds shipped in straight from the first new wave. "Kiss You Close" slinks along a downcast, minimalist groove before opening up into welcome sunburst of harmonies. "Moonlit Waves" sounds like the soundtrack to some glorious, gossamer dream, while "I Touch You Honey" recalls the Jesus and Mary Chain's noisy pop, but with the shroud of fuzz pulled back slightly to reveal more ragged edges.
Souvenir Driver have sounded something like this since Wey—who says he has a "very dreamy viewpoint of the world in general"—started it as a solo project after moving from New York to Portland about eight years ago. He initially thought he would never play live, but once the songs started stacking up, he began recruiting fellow musicians, which quickly led to collaborative songwriting and a steady lineup.
Living Water is Souvenir Driver's second full-length as a band, and if it sounds like a reflection of Wey's hazy mind state, well, it is. "When we're playing music, we all feed off each other's energy, so much so that we just kind of get to these dream states," he says. "I want the songs... to have this kind of impressionistic vibe where people can approach it and digest it the way they want to and feel what they want to feel."
And if that feeling is cozy and comforting—as if Souvenir Driver's sound is a sort of sonic blanket—then all the better.
"We are in a rainy city," Wey says. "Gotta stay warm."