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The Steelwells: Big, Dreamy Pop From SoCal Guitar Romantics

by Patrick Doyle on Feb 14, 2011

. Photo by Carlton Beener.

Who: SoCal five-piece whose sun-splashed tunes earned them a residency at L.A.'s hip Silverlake Lounge.

Sound: Pretty harmonies meet soaring, church-echo guitars. The band has been compared to the Shins, but frontman Joey Winter says classic singer-songwriters influence him more."Jeff Buckley taught me how to sing, Elvis Costello taught me how to write," he says.

Tough Love: Winter got married at 21 to a co-worker at a local PennySaver, and the marriage lasted five years. "The songs I wrote back then were cryptic, because I didn't want my wife to know that they were about her," he says. ("El Capitan," from the band's 2009 EP, references a sinking ship.) "After the divorce, I felt more free to say what I wanted to say."

Woodshedding: Steelwells shows have gotten stellar reviews in L.A. – but success didn't come easy. After an underwhelming first gig at a large club, they spent 18 months playing smaller venues four nights a week. These days, "After every show, there is a huge critique," says guitarist Andrew Eapen. Adds Winter, "No one is allowed to get upset about it."

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