Cinema Hearts play feel-good retro music that transports you to a real-life musical in an old school ice cream parlor. The three-piece band is based out of Northern Virginia and their music aligns with modern day 60s-girl-group and doo-wop inspired bands, such as La Luz, The Aquadolls, and Shannon & The Clams.
Their latest release, Burned and Burnished, is all about love and loss, and “the idea of how rejection and frustration can spark self-discovery and growth.” Compared to their debut album, Feels like Forever (2016), the new release features a louder, more polished sound, and the vocals sound even stronger than before. It’s like Feels Like Forever were the secret lo-fi bedroom recordings, and Burned and Burnished was the translation into a studio.
Cinema Hearts play timeless music, with their own contemporary twist. Take Loose Love for example (my personal favorite from the new album): “My wrist hurts and I can’t sleep, spent all night scrolling through your feed.”
Caroline Weinroth (the band’s frontwoman) and I discussed how Cinema Hearts formed, her hometown in Virginia, and her history as a pageant queen.
How Cinema Hearts start and how did you all meet?
I used to be a singer/actress in musical theater plays. I was often cast in the ensemble, but I always wanted a star leading role. So I quit theater and started writing songs and playing open mics solo. I dreamed of fronting a band so I asked my brother, Erich, to play on bass, and we found James, our drummer, through mutual friends.
That’s awesome! Sounds like it was meant to be. Who would you say are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
I love 60s girl groups. My favorites are the Ronettes, the Shangri-La’s, and Honey Ltd. I’m into old surf music too. My favorite current acts are La Luz and Lana Del Rey, and they also take inspiration from 60s girl group pop.
That’s a pretty nice array of music! Cinema Hearts definitely has that old-school sound so I totally hear where the inspiration comes from.
From what I can see it looks like you’re from Fairfax, VA? What is the local music scene like there?
We’re about an hour from DC, so Fairfax and Northern Virginia (or as we call it, “Nova”) tags along to the DC scene. DC is neat because it’s a small city, but there’s a lot of different musicians and opportunities and venues. I meet new and interesting people all the time at DC shows. There’s the DC punk history too, and the fact that it’s a political city. Our local news is the national news.
Fairfax is interesting to me because, though it’s very suburban now, it used to be very rural like the rest of Virginia. Some bands from Nova lie and say they’re from DC, but I’ve always felt a weird connection to Virginia so I tell the truth about our hometown. I competed in the Miss Virginia Pageant a couple months ago (part of the Miss America pageant) and I really got to explore other parts of Virginia and got to know its southern side.
It’s strange to straddle all these different worlds. The suburbs theme came out a lot in our first record, Feels Like Forever. The visual art for Burned and Burnished is inspired by the rare rural remnants I found in my hometown.
I don’t know what it is but there’s something about that photo that I really love!
And that’s pretty cool that you participated in pageants, From what I know there’s usually a “talent” portion of the show, right? Did you sing for that portion?
I did! For the Miss Virginia state pageant, I sang “That’s Life” (see video below). James and Erich helped me to arrange and record the backing track I sang with. James did the arrangement and played piano and drums. Erich played bass and recorded the instruments. Here’s a studio version we made.
I hold the title of Miss Mountain Laurel. When I won the Miss Mountain Laurel pageant last December, my talent was singing and playing guitar. I did “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline, since she’s also a Virginia musician.
Love that dress! And the studio version is really good as well – totally has that “big band” sound to it.
Thanks! It was the biggest stage I ever sang on, such a dream come true.
What’s your favorite song on Burned and Burnished and is there a story behind it?
The songs on Burned and Burnished fit around the idea of how rejection and frustration can spark self-discovery and growth. The title comes a line in my favorite musical, The Fantasticks – “the play is never done until we’ve all of us been burned a bit, and burnished, by the sun.”
My favorite song is “To The Boy Who Broke My Heart.” I love its guitar solo and ghostly vocal harmonies. It’s feels very cathartic each time we play it live.
I asked James and Erich about their favorite song too:
James: All of them, but “All My Life” jumps out. I love a nice, upbeat song in a major key, and “All My Life” is just that.
Erich: “Cherish” is cool. It sounds different that our other songs, and it was interesting to mix it as an instrumental too (the instrumental version is a bonus track).
Check out the 60s-high-school-prom-inspired music video for I Want You (But I Don’t Need You)
And here’s Cinema Hearts’ NPR Tiny Desk Concert – filmed in Caroline’s bedroom:
Listen to Burned and Burnished below via Bandcamp:
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