the lemon twigs are out of this world

The Lemon Twigs are Brian and Michael D’Addario, stylish teen brothers from Long Island whose gloriously retro-tinged rock ‘n’ roll sounds like the past, infused with the future.

by Emily Manning
25 October 2016, 12:40pm

Drive an hour out of New York City and you'll hit Hicksville, a sprawling Long Island town with a population of just over 40,000, spangled with strip malls and constellations of CVS Pharmacies, greasy diners, and nail salons. Take a few turns off these main roads, though, and you're inside a Virgin Suicides-esque vision of suburbia. That's where we find Brian and Michael D'Addario, the teen brothers behind rising 4AD-signed band The Lemon Twigs. The hyper-talented musicians craft lush, complex, power pop-inspired tunes that are not of this time, and certainly not this place.

When the D'Addario brothers emerge from their family home to greet us, the late-summer sunlight seems to stretch their lanky shadows down the block. They'd been watching a documentary about Lynyrd Skynyrd, the seven-piece Southern outfit whose bluesy rock and rebellious image seem to have little in common with the brothers' own baroque-glam compositions and sense of style. (Elsewhere, the D'Addarios' look has been described as "out of the Partridge Family as envisioned by Harmony Korine."). Yet, as 17-year-old Michael — who's exceptionally versed in guitar, bass, keys, and especially drums — explains, The Lemon Twigs and Skynyrd: "have a lot of the same influences."

The boys were raised on a steady diet of British Invasion bands and their sumptuously melodic successors. "We were always obsessed with The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Kinks," 19-year-old Brian — a prodigious multi-instrumentalist who's mastered guitar, drums, trumpet, violin, and more — explains over Chinese after playing Whack-a-Mole at a carnival in a nearby church parking lot. Their father inspired this reverence for the 60s and 70s; he wrote, composed, and recorded pop songs throughout the golden era that recall both Brian Wilson and Badfinger. The brothers began practicing instruments in kindergarten, and recorded an EP using their dad's eight-track. Their mother, a psychologist and actress, influenced their tastes, too. "We're working on a Beatles cover album with her," Michael enthuses. "It'll be very different versions; we're making ballads fast and fast songs ballads."

Before this family remix album arrives, the D'Addarios will release their debut album, Do Hollywood. Though Michael says its creation was "about getting down all the influences that are ingrained in us," both brothers emphasize it's far from a textbook Beatles revival. 60s and 70s rock isn't their shtick, it's their creative starting point. The Lemon Twigs' tracks collect the era's elements — rich melodies, strong harmonies, orchestral shifts in tone — and fashion them into euphoric, ornate arrangements that feel exciting and fresh in today's musical landscape.

Do Hollywood

's title is fitting: two years ago, Brian and Michael traveled to Los Angeles to work with Jonathan Rado — a scholarly fan of psychedelia and half of adored musical duo Foxygen — on its production. "It was super comfortable for us to be working with him because he knew all of the bands we love," says Brian. "He was always able to find an appropriate sound to match the song, so it made things super effortless. All we were really doing was just recording and hanging in his house, but the fact that we were doing it with a like-minded person was a totally new experience for us," says Brian. "When we left, it felt like the most fun I'd ever had."

While out West, the brothers did a fair amount of thrift shopping, too. Michael scoured L.A.'s flea markets for cheap old tees, bell-bottoms, and other tight-fitting vintage pieces. When we meet, he's sporting combat boots, high-waisted flares, a hummingbird print button-up with lapels for days, and hexagonal lenses probably 40 years older than he is. "Usually, I just get stuff that he's kind of thrown away," Brian adds of his own eclectic wardrobe. "That was my shirt," Michael clarifies, gesturing to his brother's cow-print tee. "Well, it was our friend's girlfriend's shirt originally. These were my girlfriend's pants," he laughs. "We hoard."

Despite living so close, they've never been too taken with New York City. I wonder if they've considered decamping to California in the future. After releasing the record and wrapping up opening duties on Sunflower Bean's upcoming tour, might Hicksville begin to feel claustrophobic? "I wouldn't mind moving there, but we have family here," Michael explains. "Our parents are a little older, our uncle is here. He has Down's Syndrome and Alzheimer's, and lives in a home. We visit him every week at least, so that'd be hard to leave."

This deep-seated love for family isn't simply what connects the brothers with their hometown, but what makes their music so ambitious and exceptional. "A lot of things go unsaid; we have this understanding," Brian explains. "Not only do you not have to say certain things that you would with another person, but you don't even have to entertain an idea you don't like. With us, it's so direct. We know each other so well, we know where we'll disagree."

Even in moments of disagreement, they never seem to waver in their respect for one another, as remarkably skilled musicians and as genuinely nice people. "What I like the most about his stuff is that it just comes from a totally different place than mine. He'll come up with something and I won't know how he got it," Brian explains of his younger brother. "He can go further in the direction of having an energetic, fun song than I can, and I really like that. He also knows what he wants. I feel like a lot of the times, I don't." "It's false though," Michael interjects. "That's how you are at this age. And I know it, too. I make decisions, real decisions, and regret them all the time. But at least I'm confident about them."


Text Emily Manning
Photography Zachary Chick
All clothing model's own. 

The Lemon Twigs
Brian D'Addario
Michael D'Addario
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zachary chick
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