It’s probably been two years since I’ve heard a single as catchy as the new song by Broncho, “Class Historian.” The last song that was as infectious must have been “How Do I Know” by Here We Go Magic. I relegated that to a simple Facebook post. But this single from Broncho, which has been making the interweb rounds for about a month now, deserves a special examination. It shows a fantastic growth by the Norman, Oklahoma garage band, and it plays with hooks in that smartly crafted, teasing manner that will have many hitting the repeat button.
There’s a clear evolution from the gritty, garage rock sound of the band’s noteworthy first album, 2011’s Can’t Get Past the Lips, to a more polished new wave post punk style. Even vocalist/guitarist Ryan Lindsey sounds different. He sings in a higher timbre that sounds like a young Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. It comes from the way he extends his vowels in the multi-tracked vocals and the casual way he tosses off the song’s title, “Class Historian,” by extending the first syllable of “Historian” and running the last three syllables together as quickly as the first.
The added studio sheen takes nothing away from the band’s smart song craft. In fact, it feels more advanced. Instead of driving along on a hook, they know how to cut it short to keep you wanting more. It’s a lazily strummed guitar line in sync with an almost mechanical drum beat but also so much more. At the start of the chorus, it shifts to a higher, brighter octave for a few measures that could have been right at home in a late-1980s-era Cure single. But before it overstays its welcome, it falls back into the rhythmic, propulsive state of the band’s garage rock origins. There’s this mixture of a cavalier attitude with impassioned playing that gives the song a sort of effortless quality.
But, of course, the elephant in the room is the rapid-fire stuttering da-dah-dahs that kick off the single and which the singer constantly toggles to, as an added layer of both rhythm and melody throughout the song. As with the shifting guitar hook, it’s a case hookus interruptus that keeps the vocal element from getting tiresome. The varied vocals, guitar sounds and incessant beat all combine to form a song that satisfies fans of pop on a pure level without over-the-top effects and using real, raw tools of the trade: guitars, drums and vocals.
“Class Historian” is the second track of what will be the band’s sophomore release, Just Enough Hip to be Woman, due out on Sept.16, 2014. The latest song released as a preview is also worth a listen (stream it above). “What” came out last week and opens the album and has an even more cheeky laid-back attitude, with dynamic guitar propulsion and Lindsey’s elastic vocal work. It recalls the best of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s rock, which simply makes it timeless.
Another new Broncho song you can hear now first premiered during the closing credits of the first episode of the last season of “Girls.” Broncho’s label said the track found its way to the show’s creator Lena Dunham, who decided to use it in the episode. Here’s “It’s On:”
Both of these other new songs show growth by the band in a good way, but there’s lightning to be found in the bottle of “Class Historian,” which some bands can only achieve a few times in their career. Based on the strength of these three songs, their new album should be worth picking up, and if you have a chance, see Broncho live. Get tickets to their upcoming tour, which kicks off August 24, bundled with new album in all sorts of formats (including colored vinyl) by clicking here (as with everything bolded in this post, that’s a hotlink). Unfortunately for us in South Florida, the furthest south the band’s coming is Orlando, on a Wednesday, but it may be worth a drive and a day off work…
January 4, 2011
Though I noted my top albums of last year already, do not expect to see my top films of this year anytime soon (I do not predict to have my top 20 films of 2010 posted until February). As usual, Miami is way behind other major cities when it comes to new releases in the theater, my preferred venue for movies.
Only last weekend did Miami host the latest of indie cinema’s 2010 buzz films, Tiny Furniture. The University of Miami’s Cosford Cinema played host to the feature debut by young newcomer Lena Dunham. I had heard about this movie for months now. The director, who plays the lead character Aura, shows merciless aplomb as she casts a harsh light on those who dare seek liberal arts degrees in the current economic climate.
Dunham also cast her own mother, New York City-based artist Laurie Simmons, as the mother, Siri, and her younger sister Grace Dunham as no less than the protagonist’s sister, Nadine. The heroine of this tale happens to have just graduated with a degree in Film Theory from some unnamed University in Ohio. She returns to the Tribeca studio/apartment of her baby boomer mother with seemingly no future. Her university work has wound up on YouTube to garner a few hundred hits and harsh comments more interested in her girth than any meaning in her work.
As she tries to find some direction post-college, Aura crashes at her old home and takes a job as a hostess at a restaurant, which a friend helps her obtain. In the meantime, she struggles with aimless, pathetic relationships with young men who seem even more directionless in their oblivious nature to their own douche-itude. While away from men, Aura tangles with her mother and sister and a childhood pal, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke) ready to bring her down to more aimless living with her pot-smoking, sexuality and shopaholism.
The only problem I had with this movie was the wooden, self-conscious acting among the actors. As much as I love independent film, you often have to forgive shortcomings in acting and oftentimes, pacing. But Dunham presents the scenes at a tight, restrained pace. The dialogue never drags. Raw, witty banter, based on a scary amount of truth, fills every scene. As soon, as Aura arrives home Nadine is on her case. “I just got off a plane from Ohio. I’m in a post-graduate delirium,” Aura tells her teenage sister.
“I think you sound like you’re in the epilogue to ‘Felicity,'” retorts Nadine, a high school senior with a poetry award for her anti-poem poem and her whole college future ahead of her. The re-introduction of the newly minted college grad back to the family captures the current zeitgeist for young adults in compact, potent form, not too far off to the malaise of post-grad doldrums explored by the Graduate in the late sixties . Though Dunham is no Dustin Hoffman as an actress, her writing certainly is on par with Buck Henry’s skill.
Throughout the film, Dunham spares no one, least of all herself, she fearlessly films her overweight body in many an unflattering angle and often times sans pants. It’s that kind of humility that brings out the truth and dark humor in stories. Dunham knows how to harness the power of shamelessness while remaining humble. It’s a daring line to walk, and so few young directors have any clue where to find it (often times they have their back to it). Dunham’s strong stare in the mirror deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. It has rightfully opened some great doors for her (including work with Judd Apatow, her low-brow male counterpart, if there ever was one). Hopefully she will carry on in Hollywood without compromise.
Tiny Furniture is unrated and starts tonight, Tuesday, at the Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and runs through Thursday. It is supposedly playing again at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, Friday, Jan. 7, but call: 305-673-4567, just in case, as I do not see that the new venue is open yet.