Thomas Feurer and Neal Pawley, who are 11 Acorn Lane, create “accomplished musical whimsy” (LA Times) that inspires critics to fanciful descriptions. MSN Music calls their jazzy tunes “a groovy concoction of lounge music and contemporary electronics spiked with top notes of surf rock, cha-cha and brass.” Metromix says they “sound like Henry Mancini, Herb Alpert and Lawrence Welk sharing a drunken jam session.” In other words, they swing.
The duo have released five buoyantly Esquivelian albums to date on the Wooden Hat label ‘Happy As Can Be,’ ‘Painting Coconuts,’ ‘Everybody’s Here’, the holiday album ‘Happy Holy Days,’ and ‘Swing Thing’, each meticulously arranged, produced and recorded by just the two men in the New York City studio they call the Armory. Both play dozens of instruments, making them the smallest big band ever. And they keep learning more: Thomas recently added piccolo to his list, while Neal now owns his first French horn and knows what to do with it.
11 Acorn Lane’s signature sound, combining painstaking craftsmanship with tongue-in-cheek quirkiness, explains why they’ve had music featured on shows including HBO’s “Bored to Death,” Showtime’s “Weeds,” ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and PBS’s “Roadtrip Nation,” among many other prominent placements. Pawley and Feurer’s separate credits include playing, producing, writing and remixing with a long list of musical notables including Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, Bon Jovi, Billy Eckstine, The Temptations and Willie Nelson.
Their composition and performance skills were carefully honed at renowned music schools: London’s Guildhall School of Music and New York’s Manhattan School of Music for Pawley, who hails from Sheffield, England, and the American School of Modern Music in Paris and Boston’s Berklee School of Music for Feurer, a native of Effretikon, Switzerland.
A chance meeting in New York resulted in 11 Acorn Lane’s uniquely upbeat melding of the jazz, Latin, exotica, funk and big band elements of Mad Men-era lounge music with influences from their own histories and from around the world, including current beats, electronica and modern production techniques. That’s why 11 Acorn Lane is a place where, Thomas says, “Henry Mancini meets Fatboy Slim over a glass of wine, and Serge Gainsbourg pops in.”
It’s also “an imaginary address where our music lives,” Neal explains, “in an imaginary lounge where all kinds of instruments get together and do unexpected things.”
That may be why 11 Acorn Lane’s ‘Happy Holy Days’ topped the Village Voice’s 2010 list of Best Christmas Albums with a flood of adjectives: “Sexy and drunken horns, swinging accordion, cooing choruses, and a cha-cha beat are all milked for maximum merriment.”