The Travoltas hail from Dallas, Texas, and were formed there in the fall of 2011. Salim Nourallah (vocals, guitar), Paul Slavens (keys, vocals), Nick Earl (guitar), Emsy Robinson (bass) and Mike Hodges (drums), deftly swerve through music decades past ranging from tin-pan alley to the 60’s British Invasion and 70’s punk rock.
Nourallah, a well-established producer and solo artist in his own right, conceptualized the project, hand-picking each member for their unique skill set and myriad of influences. The result is the Travoltas’ unique sound, a blend of pop/rock’s pre-1980’s history going back all the way to the 40’s.
The Travoltas was recorded and mixed in just 5 days by Jim Vollentine (Spoon; Old 97s, White Rabbits). Vollentine had also worked on Nourallah’s last solo record, “Hit Parade.” “I Can’t Say No” comes crashing out of the gate with reverb drenched surf guitars and Liberace-esque piano runs. “1978” is a playful take on the charmingly catchy pop single Nourallah released in 2004. It sports a dub reggae/dancehall groove, almost as if the Kinks were doing a send-up of the Clash. “We Did Some Things” (another re-do from Nourallah’s back-catalogue) and “Mail Ya to Australia” showcase Slavens virtuoso piano work and Nourallah’s clever wordplay. Slavens channels Randy Newman, Steve Nieve and even Scott Joplin on these numbers while Nourallah channels Ray Davies and some sort of punk-rock Sinatra persona.
The power pop/punky “If You Could Be the Star” and Kinksy “Problematico” (written by Salim’s younger brother, Faris) call guitar player Nick Earl to the front of the class with his not-at-all-retro manipulation of sound. Earl fuses the past to the present with his guitar wizardry – at times creating sounds and textures that don’t even slightly resemble traditional guitar tones. This element is key to the Travoltas fresh sound and greatly helps the band step out of retro-kitsch land and in to the present day.