We Memphis Pencils formed in March of 2007 on the campus of the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, with the intention of making unconventional yet accessible music.
Martin Bemberg, our band's lead singer and primary songwriter, began composing what would become the Pencils' first tunes at the age of seventeen (see: "Un Dandy Dia"), but it was not until the summer of 2007 that these seminal tracks were recorded (two of them ended up on our first cohesive release, 2009's "Crayon Jewels" EP).
The songs on "Crayon Jewels" were recorded over the span of two years and to a certain degree convey the dynamism of mood and perhaps genre, which has become one of our key features. And while we have difficulty precisely describing our sound in terms of concrete genres and wish not to pigeonhole ourselves, dynamism is perhaps the one characteristic that most accurately defines our music. Dynamism, however, is not only apparent in the differences between songs, but also within songs, which is to say that variations in time signature and phrasing are an essential part of the Memphis Pencils sound.
On the previously mentioned "Crayon Jewels" EP, this dynamism, while present quite often, is not so consistently pervasive as in the band's newer material. This fact is the clearest indication of the band's progress towards a more mature identity. It is appropriate here, we think, to point out the word "progress," for the band does somewhat appreciate the label of "progressive pop." "Progressive," as we understand it, is a word reserved for music that is defined by change and contrast. "Pop," as we understand it, is a word reserved for music that is defined by accessibility and an emphasis on melody. We think our music not only fits all of these criteria, but is essentially defined by them.
Though we do have certain accomplishments under our belts (placing at the top of Ourstage's indie pop charts and subsequently performing at CMJ in 2008; playing during South By Southwest in 2009; being named one of the "Best New Bands In America" by The Boston Phoenix; breaking even on a few regional tours; and opening for acts like Dana Falconberry, Daniel Francis Doyle, Mae, and Slaraffenland), we have not received much recognition, or experienced, by industry standards, "success." However, we are confident that following the release of our first full length album in 2011 on Victory Garden Records, we will move on to bigger, better things.
Martin Bemberg - Vocals, Guitar, keys
Reed Faitak - Bass
Jim Sloan - Vocals, Guitar, Keys.
Joel Paul - Vocals, Guitar, glockenspiel
JD Paul - Drums
Shhh, I'm Rustic (February 2011)
Crayon Jewels EP (Fontee Fount, 2009)
Memphis Pencils 9 p.m. Friday, July 30. Foam, 3359 South Jefferson Avenue.
[+ Show ]
The sound of Crayon Jewels, the latest, not-quite-full-length album by Memphis Pencils, is Sufjan St...The sound of Crayon Jewels, the latest, not-quite-full-length album by Memphis Pencils, is Sufjan Stevens filtered through the Mountain Goats' boom box and remixed with Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66 playing in the background. The choral voices, French horns, harmoniums, glockenspiel and lounge-jazz grooves redeem the predominantly twee-verby aesthetic and the stubborn refusal to complete songs with titles such as "Janet Reno Yawning." So the Fayetteville, Arkansas, group, led by founders Martin Bemberg and Reed Faitak, tosses its sonic pebbles, whirls about and stretches its limbs to land wherever luck, imagination and "Vote for Pedro" fan sites such as OurStage dictate. The Memphis Pencils' psychedelic pop may just be playful and artful enough to leap ahead of the post-Animal Collective bandwagon.
Best New Bands In America: Arkansas
[+ Show ]
WHY THEM? There’s a bevy of badass noise-rock going down in Fayetteville, but this quintet caught us...WHY THEM? There’s a bevy of badass noise-rock going down in Fayetteville, but this quintet caught us off guard by shifting the other way into backwoods chamber pop. Picking up the rolling acoustics and campfire drums that Grizzly Bear ditched a few years ago, Martin Bemberg and his crew have dropped one EP (Crayon Jewels) and a dusty trail of shows full of dreamy tunes and dovetailing vocals. A little candlelit acid prog, a little wheezy squeeze box, and some pecking at the ol’ glockenspiel dress up the fringes, but the key is deep-thinking songwriting. Memphis Pencils rock bedrooms and basements, but the architecture in their music is all secret passages and high ceilings.
BONUS BIT! It pains our nostalgic heart to hear this, but the Pencils cut up animal-facts cards from the Wildlife Treasury while assembling the handmade art on their last record.
Arkansas Indie Coming To The Windy City
[+ Show ]
Memphis Pencils and Messy Sparkles are serving Chicago a double helping of dreamy progressive pop ne...Memphis Pencils and Messy Sparkles are serving Chicago a double helping of dreamy progressive pop next week. Both based in Fayetteville, AR, these two acts are touring the states this summer and will be making a stop at Silvie’s Lounge August 1. Chances are you've never even heard of these guys, unless you happen to frequent the underground Fayetteville venues and house shows they usually play. But that's just all the more reason to check them out.
These two acts are closely knit; aside from living in the same small town, JD Paul, the driving force behind solo project Messy Sparkles, also plays the floor tom for Memphis Pencils. But they each manage to maintain their own distinct sounds. Memphis Pencils takes a drowsier, more psychedelic approach to their chamber pop with swirling melodies, a twinkling glockenspiel and all the ethereal ooh-ooh-oohing they can fit in the background. And Messy Sparkles have a more dynamic and electronic sound, surging out trippy synth blips and tribal chanting over pulsating beats.
These are two bands more accustomed to playing tiny, discreet venues like local dive bars and random basement shows, and maybe that’s why their sounds each possess a warm, intimate quality. But, whether they like it or not, these up-and-comers have been garnering attention lately. For example, Memphis Pencils were recently named one of the "Best New Bands In America" by The Boston Phoenix, and Messy Sparkles was called “brilliant” by Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind. We suggest checking them out at Silvie's cozy lounge before the word gets out and they start playing massive summer festivals or venues with actual stages.
Memphis Pencils and Messy Sparkles play Sunday, August 1 at Silvie’s, 1902 W Irving Park, 9 p.m., $5, 21+
Memphis Pencils Win OurStage CMJ Competition
[+ Show ]
Here is an interview with Martin Bemberg and Andrew McDougal (former synth player) by Quinn Strassel...Here is an interview with Martin Bemberg and Andrew McDougal (former synth player) by Quinn Strassel of OurStage, whose competition the band won with 2007's single "Un Dandy Dia," which later appeared on 2009's "Crayon Jewels" EP. Memphis Pencils performed days later at NYU as an octet, pictures from which can be found in the photos section of the EPK.
Memphis Pencils Included On Art Amiss 13 Compilation
[+ Show ]
Here is a story publicizing the release of the Art Amiss 13 compilation. The compilation includes th...Here is a story publicizing the release of the Art Amiss 13 compilation. The compilation includes the best of the best of Arkansas music and was put together by Eric Jensen, Station Manager at KXUA 88.3, the University of Arkansas' student-run radio station.
Bored By Beacons
Cities In Love
Janet Reno Yawning
Nestor, Best Your Intercessor
Happy Birthday, Harvey
Keep It Simple, Sartre
There are no upcoming dates at this time.