Illiterate Light thrives on subverting expectations. Though just a duo, the Harrisonburg, Virginia-based singer-guitarist Jeff Gorman along with Nashville, Tennessee-based drummer Jake Cochran make surprisingly pummeling and thoughtful alternative rock. Since the band’s 2015 inception, they’ve intently focused on their unorthodox live show with Cochran standing behind his kit and Gorman playing synth bass with his foot as he sings and strums his guitar. Fiercely egalitarian and independent, the two not only split up songwriting duties and arrangement ideas, they even built bike-powered stages: bringing the fans into the live experience and envisioning a greener future for shows.
But with their latest album Sunburned, out January 27 via Thirty Tigers, Gorman and Cochran have turned their attention inward to their songwriting and studio craft. It’s their most fully-realized and ambitious LP yet, one that’s full of immediate songs that update and revolutionize the band’s approach to making music. There are rich keyboard and programmed percussion textures now populating their songs, as well as soaringly anthemic choruses, and hefty doses of fuzz. “On our first record, we were very live-focused and wanted to make sure whatever we were writing was translated in person,” says Gorman. “Without that crutch, we could be more adventurous and take more risks. We definitely weren’t timid in the studio.”