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You Should Know: Bern & the Brights

July 29, 2010

Bern & the Brights

It’s a known cliché for bands to describe themselves as “something you’ve never heard before.” But that’s what first comes to mind upon hearing Bern & the Brights. This female-fronted, New Jersey band describes their sound as “chamber pop-rock.” Their latest EP, Swing Shift Maisies, lives up to that intriguing label.

Swing Shift Maisies

Two things really make this group stand out: vocals and violin. Bern & the Brights has two vocalists, each with her own robust, soulful tone. Malavarca especially has a distinctive trill, as easily heard on “Boo.”

Violin puts the “chamber” in “chamber pop-rock”–but don’t be fooled. Violin is dynamically arranged, dancing with guitar riffs in “Sleepless Aristotle” and driving the melody on “Sangria Peaches” and “Boo.” I’m pretty impressed by the integration–too often, violinists become tokenized when they’re in bands, playing like they’re in a Mozart concert instead of a rock band. In other words, hats off to Scorsone! There’s still a bit of country twang, but it’s small potatoes.

Overall, these songs are as catchy as they are original. “Sleepless Aristotle” has been stuck in my head for the last 24 hours (and I’m not complaining). Another favorite (though not on this EP) is “China,” with its awesomely lo-fi music video:

And speaking of videos, I found this number on YouTube:

I have never seen hipsters dance like that (see 4:10ish). At most shows, they’re standing expressionless, arms crossed, trying to look like sophisticated connoisseurs of indie. Either Bern & the Brights are really on to something, or they have the most jivin’ fans ever. Actually, either is pretty plausible–Since 2008, Bern & the Brights have played over 200 shows. (what!)

While it could use some more bass, Swing Shift Maisies is a solid collection of songs that will certainly expand your auditory horizons. Go listen for yourself at their MySpace. Or buy the EP–seriously, it’s less than $4.

Swing Shift Maisies is available now on iTunes, cdbaby, and Amazon.


Girl At The Show


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