In an era dominated by streaming and home releases, many musical acts have found massive success aspiring to be based out of as homemade a studio as possible. Noteworthy artists with albums made literally out of their bedrooms rank from the Grammy-nominated Billie Eilish to alternative indie rock veterans Car Seat Headrest, among countless others. Included in this pantheon of true indie style is the two-person band My Forever DJ, who saw such production twists and decided to take it even a step further as if to say “Yeah, you guys can record in bedrooms… but have you ever thought about taking this show on the road, recording from your car in various places across America?” The gauntlet was thrown down, and it was in the form of My Forever DJ’s debut: experimental, rock-cover-album Southern Hotspots.
A brief history of My Forever DJ is necessary to understand the thought process behind turning your car into a studio in the middle of a global shutdown. The band happily wears the title of “independent music artist” on their sleeve, as made evident by their online presence. If you were to look into the duo, you would come across very scant details in your search; their website totes a few photos of the recording process, a few paragraphs on the core thesis of album Southern Hotspots, and links that direct users to band merchandise, a ghost town of a YouTube page, and Jeff’s (one half of the band’s) personal Facebook. My Forever DJ was formed upon couple Diane and Jeff meeting in 2018 after coming together through their mutual love: music, and after the 2020 pandemic hit hard, inspiration struck harder and the duo set out on a road trip over a thousand miles long to trace historic rock music locations to gain even deeper influence and insight. Readers are instantly given the impression that this band is as indie as it gets, and upon tuning into the album, that impression hits home.
The music contained within the eleven-song tracklist of Southern Hotspots is extremely impressive, and even more so when you come to realize that the production equipment was set up through a cigarette lighter outlet and performed in places far off the beaten path, with the band citing locations such as parking lots and hotel rooms as pieces in the setting of a larger puzzle of their 1,200-mile road trip that aided them in inspiration to complete an entire LP’s worth of rock covers. A particular highlight was the rendition of folk classic “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” showcasing a lower range for Diane and a wide array of deft guitar strumming for Jeff, with impressive orchestral work and twangy string-plucking picking up minor slack in the background. Diane’s harmonies complement the song’s tried and true composition when instead of going for a tonally upbeat cover, the duo opts instead for a mellower, downbeat approach. The couple approaches every song they undertake with a similar newfound look on familiarity.
It’s safe to say listeners are in for a treat with Southern Hotspots. An incredible testament to the indie spirit standing up against quarantine complacency, Diane and Jeff gave their all to the project and will hopefully light a fire in the hearts of other indie acts that come across My Forever DJ. They may have set out with an ambitious start with one hell of a concept for a debut album, but something tells me this act isn’t worried about a sophomore slump.