Ducktails is an American psychedelic pop band from New Jersey, formed in 2006. Initially the solo recording project of Real Estate's guitarist Matt Mondanile, the band also includes Josh da Costa (bass), Malcolm Perkins (guitar) and Ross Chait (drums).
To date, Ducktails has released five studio albums, with its most recent, St. Catherine, having been released on July 24, 2015.
Origins and early recordings
Mondanile started Ducktails in a tool shed in Northampton, Massachusetts the summer before his last year at Hampshire College. The band name is a play on the title of the animated television series, DuckTales, from the late 1980s and early 1990s. He recorded his first release, 1992 Demo, on a 4 track with cheap multi effects pedals and a guitar. After leaving college he moved back to his parents' home in New Jersey, where he recorded in the basement. Between 2007 and 2012 he recorded several albums, singles, cassettes, and split releases, mostly recorded on cassette tape.
Ducktails, Landscapes and Arcade Dynamics (2007-2011)
Ducktails' self-titled debut album proper was released in 2009 on the Not Not Fun label, followed later that year with Landscapes. Third studio album Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics was released in 2011 on the Woodsist label, and saw a move away from improvised experiments towards pop. Ducktails releases have received significant critical acclaim, most notably from Pitchfork Media who have favourably reviewed the albums, and produced two video features on the band.
The Flower Lane and St. Catherine (2012-present)
In 2012 Mondanile signed to Domino Records and released The Flower Lane. In contrast to his earlier work, it was recorded in a studio and mixed over the summer of 2012 with Al Carlson (Peaking Lights) and co-written by New Jersey band Big Troubles, who had backed Mondanile in live shows for some time. The ten track album was released January 28, 2013 preceded by the single "Letter of Intent", which featured vocals from Jessa Farkas of Future Shuttle and bass from Joel Ford of Ford & Lopatin. On January 23, 2013, Pitchfork TV broadcast a live stream of the band's album release show at Manhattan's (Le) Poisson Rouge with guest appearances from Big Troubles, Joel Ford, Jessa Farkas, and Real Estate's Martin Courtney.
Ducktails have played many international festivals including Primavera Sound and Field Day. As Ducktails, Mondanile has toured the world solo as well as with a band performing extensively in Australia, Japan, Europe, United States and Canada. Mondanile has also collaborated with Panda Bear of Animal Collective as well as Madeline Follin of Cults and Dan Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never.
On July 25, 2013 Ducktails performed in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art as part of PopRally's MoMa Nights series.
Their music has been positively reviewed by the BBC and is regularly played on BBC 6Music by the likes of Gideon Coe, Marc Riley and Don Letts.
Mondanile runs the New Images record label.
The band's music has been described as "hypnagogic pop", "woozy, horizontal pop", "lo-fi", and "chillwave". Early recordings were freeform jams, once described as "bizarre, krautrock-influenced sound collages", but later material has more conventional song structures, more akin to his work in Real Estate. Jason Lymangrover, reviewing Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics for Allmusic, described Ducktails releases as having "a sketchpad feel to them", and the album was described as "a typically giddy blend of psych, drone, summer jams, tropical riffs and hazy vocalisms" in The List. Liz Pelly, reviewing The Flower Lane for the Providence Phoenix described his earlier work as "collaged pop ideas with kaleidoscopic filters and home-recorded hiss".
In a 2009 interview, Mondanile described his live performances as "improvised and more like drone music". He explained his preference for recording on cassette: "I like the idea of everything being as raw-sounding as possible, with nothing covering up the sound. It's like the only thing covering it up might be the quality of the recording".