Little Cinema is a long-distance musical affair between Tyler Womack and Shawn Jones. The longtime friends collaborated over three years and countless Brooklyn-to-Austin trips to create Little Cinema’s first full-length record, Adventure. A 10-song road movie replete with petty crime, arson, opium dens and nautical crusades, Adventuregives voice to Tyler’s experience of leaving Austin for New York City.
Shawn Jones was already a mainstay on the local and national indie scene for his art-folk group the Lovely Sparrows when he shared a stage with an early incarnation of Tyler’s band Hollywood Gossip. Their friendship grew over the next few years, with Shawn acting as a sounding-board to the songs Tyler would develop for the Hollywood Gossip albums You’re So Quiet and Dear as Diamonds.
After Hollywood Gossip broke up in 2011, Tyler came to Shawn with a raft of new songs, some fully fleshed out, and others mere ideas. Together, they began work on what would become the album Adventure. Shawn’s previous producing credits included his own Pitchfork-hailed album Bury the Cynics, and Robert Ellis’s debut, The Great Re-Arranger, and he jumped at the chance to mix his intricate, throwback arrangements with Tyler’s pure pop aesthetic.
The two soon drafted Shivery Shakes and International Waters drummer Marcus Haddon to provide percussion. The addition was inspired: Haddon’s work on songs like “Diving Board” and “Birdwatchers of the World, Unite!” brought a breezy jazz feel to the music.
The record takes cues from early-oughts indie pop mainstays like the Lucksmiths, Beulah and Saturday Looks Good to Me. Meanwhile, the lyrics and storytelling hearken back to early Belle & Sebastian, or mid-career Mountain Goats. “Diving Board” is a bouncy love song intermixed with a story of breaking-and-entering and swimming in the nude. “Chinese Tobacco” presents a rough, one-taken travelogue that would make John Darnielle smile. Meanwhile, “When You Think of Me” swings with a Morrissey strut, as a self-aggrandizing eulogy for one still living.
Small touches abound. Shawn Jones’ saxophone on “When You Think of Me” is virtuosic and rich; the same instrument signals a melancholic turn on Next Year. Derek Phelps’ trumpet work (Black Joe Lewis) provides a similar turn on “This is an Adventure”, and “Chinese Tobacco.” Dana Falconberry provides female vocals on “Diving Board”, sounding for all the world like a B-side from The Cardigans’ early work.