Souvenir takes music from studio to stage with newly formed band

From left: Anh Le, Reed Gaines, Mike Fenuccio and Andrew Novoa get into the music at Souvenir's Sunset Tavern gig January 20. Photo courtesy Koa Ho
From left: Anh Le, Reed Gaines, Mike Fenuccio and Andrew Novoa get into the music at Souvenir's Sunset Tavern gig January 20. Photo courtesy Koa Ho

Frost School of Music band Souvenir has begun playing gigs to promote its Neon Dream record, which melds 80s synth sounds with cutting-edge modern pop. Written and produced by seniors Mike Fenuccio and Andrew Novoa, the 6-song EP was released in June 2017 and is available for purchase and streaming on Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music.

Neon Dream’s agile vocals carry the EP through a series of emotional highs and lows. With the triumphant harmonies of “Stay,” which echo current artists like Troye Sivan and Parade of Lights, and the deep, melismatic sounds in “Push Pull” that call on the neo-soul of the early aughts, vocalist and primary songwriter Mike Fenuccio demonstrates his range both in pitch and emotion. The songs’ lyrics exude lust, particularly in “Nocturnal” and the title track, “Neon Dream”, as well as longing and loss, as in “Push Pull.” The lines are short and to-the-point, giving just enough information to paint a scene, but allowing Fenuccio’s evocative voice to do the talking.

Neon Dream pairs the clean arrangements of radio hits like Charlie Puth’s “Attention” or Shawn Mendes’s “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” with the airy, reverb-heavy feel of festival artists Gallant and The Japanese House. The vocal chops in “Push Pull” and “Neon Dream” are a markedly late twenty-teens touch, while the drum tracks and keyboard synths leave a taste of 1980s nostalgia. Though different from one another, the songs never feel incongruous. The bright sound of the record carries throughout, making even songs with contrasting energies, like “Stay” and “Chase Me Down,” feel like part of the same work.

Fenuccio uses the moniker Souvenir for his solo work and duo with keyboardist Andrew Novoa, but he assembled a full band under the name in Fall 2017. Frost students Anh Le, the second keyboardist and drum pad player, drummer Chris Schreck, guitarist Ben Youngblood and bassist Reed Gaines joined Souvenir last semester and played the band’s first live show January 20 at Sunset Tavern.

“I feel like for so long these songs just lived in Andrew’s studio and now they’ve been elevated to new heights when played for actual people,” Fenuccio said.

Though Neon Dream’s studio sound isn’t necessarily replicable with live instruments, the addition of the band members gives Souvenir a mesmerizing live presence. Youngblood, Le, Schreck and Gaines, all incredibly dexterous musicians, fill the void of vocal samples and synth tracks with live melody and rhythm.

“I’ve been so blessed to have such talented friends who allow me to realize the sonic palettes I envision when I write these songs,” Fenuccio said.

Souvenir will continue promoting Neon Dream with live gigs throughout Spring 2018. Catch them on campus at the UM United Wesley Open Mic/Coffeehouse (1210 Stanford Drive) February 22 and at Gramps in Wynwood February 27. Follow Souvenir @mfenuccio on Facebook.