Tag Archives: Brooklyn indie bands

Beach Fossils’ New “Somersault” a Must for your Summer Soundtrack

25 Jul

Beach Fossils is an indie rock trio out of Brooklyn, New York, led by frontman, Dustin Payseur. Formed in early 2009 and known initially for a lo-fi, hazy vibe, Beach Fossils has embraced more of a jangle-rock sound in its current album, Somersault, the first new release from the band in four years.

The album incorporates a number of instruments that Beach Fossils hasn’t used much (or at all), including harpsichord, piano and even flute — plus ample servings of strings. The additional creativity in composing and arranging has paid immediate dividends with Somersault earning largely excellent reviews.

Pitchfork described the album as containing “Dustin Payseur’s most nuanced songs to date.” Paste said, “Thanks to a rich sonic palette and more dynamic songwriting, (Beach Fossils) has turned in their best collection of jangly indie rock songs so far.”

If you enjoy bands such as New Jersey’s Real Estate, I promise you’ll like the latest from Beach Fossils.

Track highlights: Somersault opens with a glistening example of jangle-pop that’s every bit the equal of anything Real Estate has done — with all due respect to Real Estate’s excellent releases. “This Year” moves with pace and energy created by Payseur’s bouncy bass line, topped with the welcome jangle of Tommy Davidson’s guitar. It’s the album’s lead single, and a good one.

The second track transitions to a bit of a breezy, jazzy feeling. “Tangerine” features vocals from Rachel Goswell, guesting from the band, Slowdive. The strings give the song a polish and timelessness that recall sunny afternoons spent on distant beaches.

“St. Ivy” evolves beyond the usual jangle-rock into mid-tempo dream pop that sounds like it came out of the late 1970s a la Hall & Oates. There’s jazz flute in the lead break and then the song flows into the Valley of the Beatles, with rich strings and a George Harrison-like lead guitar part. This represents a new level of sophistication for the band.

Track four offers another crystalline jangle-rock standard called “May 1st.” The album continues with one delight after another and more than enough variety to avoid repetition, including its share of more serious lyrical messages and even some rap.

The second-to-last song is yet another highlight, a jangle-rock epic recalling Fleet Foxes’ influence called “Be Nothing.” The track builds to a big jam that shows the range Beach Fossils has as the band continues to mature. Somersault is clearly worth your notice.

 

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Overlord Delivers 21st Century Indie Rock with a Nod to the 60s and 70s

24 Jan

Overlord is a Brooklyn-based, four-piece band that delivers highly satisfying indie pop-rock with a vintage flavor. The band’s latest album, The Well-Tempered Overlord,” is brimming with high-energy, catchy power pop-rock in the style of songs that were cranked out by the songwriting factories of the 1960s and 1970s. And that’s not a bad thing! Places such as NYC’s Brill Building (recently popularized in an album title by the New Pornographers) and Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music (the subject of the Carole King musical, Beautiful) knew how to craft great songs. And Overlord certainly does in this, its sixth full-length album.

Arrangements in The Well-Tempered Overlord are fresh — never formulaic — with compelling lyrics, strong lead vocals, and rich harmonies reminiscent of 60s acts such as the Beach Boys or Monkees. The songs make good use of both guitars and synths, with solid rhythm tracks that drive the tunes forward.

Track highlights: The band starts off by immodestly suggesting “You’re Gonna Love This One.” Jangly guitars, skittering synths and a relentless beat pump this into a true pop-rock anthem. “Mission to Mars” comes next, featuring straight-ahead pop-rock with a dynamic bass line and a harmonized chorus that definitely reminds me of the Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” — written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Incidentally, you should check out the accompanying music video, featuring a little boy who grows up to live out his dream (with an unexpected ending).

Track 4 of the ten-song set, “Interior World,” demonstrates Overlord’s expertise with well-mannered (well-tempered?), yet dramatic, chamber pop — complete with chime-y guitar and dazzling synth orchestration. “Incredibly Human” is up-tempo rock with a march-like rhythm and stingers at the end of each verse. And Track 9, “Give Up your Dreams,” has guitar work similar to The Hollies or any of a number of bands from the 1960s. The songs don’t sound old — they’re definitely a part of the 21st century; they simply pay homage to an earlier era responsible for such great music.

This album is absolutely worth your time — check it out!

 

A Fresh Indie Discovery from Brooklyn: Balancer

27 Aug

Indiewayyoulikeit is typically the place to go to learn about great new indie bands and their music. But sometimes, exceptions must be made.

As you are no doubt aware, being a musician is not a ticket to riches today. For every megaband with their entourage and limos, there are dozens of bands traveling by van, lugging their own equipment, and doing their own mike checks.

Balancer is an indie rock trio with psych tendencies that has worked hard to get noticed, but is still relatively unknown. The group’s members are: Francisco Valentin (vocals/synths), Felipe Piedrahita (guitar/synth) and Gabriela Jimeno (drums/samples).

Originally from Colombia and Puerto Rico, the three of them first met in Boston, where they had all gone to attend music school. The band is now based in that hotbed of indie music: Brooklyn, New York.

Together since 2012, Balancer has released just one full album — Tipsoo. It first became available in 2014, but because we just received it at KZSU where I DJ, it’s new to us. And it’s fantastic, making it well worth writing about even at this late date.

My favorite song on the album is track 6, “Mount Rainier (Woke Me Up).” (Side note: The album was recorded in Seattle, where the band members could gaze up at majestic Mount Rainier daily.) I picked this track long before I read an interview in High Voltage magazine where Jimeno states that it’s the band’s favorite as well. She says, “This song is the key to understanding the essence of the whole album. It is a breaking point as it marks the passage of one act into the next…”

Jimeno continues, “The song is actually two songs forged together by a dream-like transition. As the song starts to fade away into chaos, a vortex of energy, a new song is being born. ‘Mount Rainier’ feels like a sunrise. The break of day bringing light and hope into the soul…”

Whew.

What else can I say? “Mount Rainier” starts out as a wistful wandering — melodic with a mesmerizing rhythm and guitar stingers. Then, at about 2 1/2 minutes, it transitions into a bouncy synth-based melody with a different rhythm, guitar noodling, hand-claps, and wonderful harmonies. This is definitely an epic tune you need to hear!

Track 2, “Traveler,” is another great song. It’s psych-influenced, with a mix of guitar, synth and rhythm elements. At points the song effortlessly transitions between rock into something that’s jazzier — like Steely Dan might have created.

Track 8, “Under the Same Sky” is a delightful romp — the band strutting its musical virtuosity in a mid-tempo guitar rock song with a slightly off-kilter rhythm.

Track 9, “Technicatalyst,” is dreamy, yet intricate — featuring Piedrahita’s clean guitar licks with disciplined drumming and just the right amount of noise to lift listeners into the clouds.

Many of the other tracks in Tipsoo’s 10-song set are just as worthy. If you want to be able to share a true musical discovery with your less indie-geeked-out friends, Tipsoo is it.