Singer/bassist Dave Mann formed Mittenfields in 2008 with guitarist Sam Sherwood. After adding wunderkind math-rock drummer Brian Moran to the mix, the lineup of the band was completed with the arrival of guitarists Donald Seale and Michael Ball in late 2010. The quintet quickly headed into DC’s Inner Ear Studios, cranked up a wall of amps, and let it rip.
Mittenfields released their debut EP, The Fresh Sum, in July 2011, with the tracks “My Mind Is An Avalanche” and “Goliath FTW” being featured on local and college radio, and podcasts in the US and Canada. The band recently started work on a full-length album, which they plan to release in 2013.
The band spent much of 2012 year playing shows in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast areas of the US, including the 35 Denton festival and several unofficial SXSW showcases.
“[Goliath FTW] hearkens back to the noisy tunes of Matador Records’ heyday.” - Washington City Paper
"The Fresh Sum isn’t just a nostalgic reach for 90’s noisy rock or garage band angst. Mittenfields are loud and sound exceptionally large in their delivery, crafting a stellar debut this past summer and one of the best releases of the year." - Deckfight
“Mittenfields debut the past as something new... if you took Frightened Rabbit and told vocalist Scott Hutchison to make a song for Arcade Fire’s Funeral using Cursive as a backing band, maybe then you would end up with ‘My Mind Is an Avalanche.’” (9 out of 10) - Heave Media
“A band who aren’t afraid to swing for the fences... dangerously energized guitars, shout-to-the-ceiling harmonies, and a rhythm section that sounds like it could implode.” - Turntable Kitchen
“A roaring juggernaut of swirling guitars, soaring choruses and raging emotions.” - Sirens of Decay
“Think Preston School of Industry with balls.” - Trigger Cut
Dave Mann - Vocals, Bass
Brian Moran - Drums
Sam Sherwood - Guitar
Donald Seale - Guitar
Michael Ball - Guitar
The Fresh Sum EP - July 26, 2011
Digital download on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon. CDs sold at shows and through Bandcamp
Mittenfields – Fresh Sum EP
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Not to sound corny, but remember that Do-Long bridge scene in Apocalypse Now? Where it’s dark save f...Not to sound corny, but remember that Do-Long bridge scene in Apocalypse Now? Where it’s dark save for firelight in the sky and there’s all that guitar feedback playing on some banged up radio in the trenches? The scene’s background noise has this bent, caustic feel pouring from jagged guitar playing on a beaten radio. DC’s Mittenfields open their The Fresh Sum EP with a sound that recalls that desperate and scathingly metallic sound. It’s a hazy, emotionally jarring trip and more importantly, it sounds great in all its brokenness. The opening track “Mixed Signals” is a barrage of fractured, jangly guitars that ache. They screech and wail for effect. It’s haunting, angered and elegant in all its sounds of destruction. For the easy go-to, the album sounds like Fugazi meets David Byrne. Regardless, it’s a massive debut built on thick bass lines, heavy handed drumming, brash guitar work and Dave Mann’s charging vocals that fall between Chris Keene of Mean Creek or Kevin Cornell of Marionette. The songs sound either sound epic (“My Mind is an Avalanche”), Crazy Horse via John Hughes (“Cascades”), or down right bar band (“Goliath FTW”). The Fresh Sum isn’t just a nostalgic reach for 90’s noisy rock or garage band angst. Mittenfields are loud and sound exceptionally large in their delivery, crafting a stellar debut this past summer and one of the best releases of the year.
Mittenfields debut the past as something new
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Three guitars, a set of drums, and a bass: behold the often-larger-than-the-room quintet Mittenfield...Three guitars, a set of drums, and a bass: behold the often-larger-than-the-room quintet Mittenfields. Brainchild of vocalist and bassist Dave Mann, the Washington DC group has a clear underlying influence from same-city post-hardcore developers Fugazi, even if Mittenfields claim that “only you” are their influence. And if you think they sound soft, you’re only 74% wrong. Mann’s outfit brings their sound to the edge of rock at all times, evidently on a 90s streak – it sounds eerily similar to the random unheard-of CDs I pick up at thrift stores, only better. In fact, The Fresh Sum EP is dripping with the sound of late nights rehearsing and writing and jamming until the right tri-guitar chords strike. This isn’t the product of one night dreaming to record something. For all its reminders of Clarissa Explains It All and other related memorabilia of the past, The Fresh Sum will need a little fine polishing before being a full-fledged album, grown from EP status, able to fulfill a longer set than just 25:58 long. But a debut must always come first.
Beginning like some lost track from a Smashing Pumpkins early release, “Mixed Signals (On The Rocks)” opens the album with a promise of two decades ago. Is that a stadium echo I hear on the vocals? It feels intimate though, even with Mann’s Sonic Youth-esque jolly howls. Time to get nostalgic in the 21st century.
Maybe you’ve heard this one before. At least, it sounds like you have. But that ain’t so bad, right? I mean, here’s a thought: if you took Frightened Rabbit and told vocalist Scott Hutchison to make a song for Arcade Fire’s Funeral using Cursive as a backing band, maybe then you would end up with “My Mind Is an Avalanche.” A little harder than a feel-good lift, the 6:19-long track will warp your mind as you flip between enjoying it and feeling lost in the track.
Mann’s tone is almost sarcastic, as if knowing he’s using a commercial-teen acronym in the title “Goliath FTW,” and quite frankly, everyone, he doesn’t give a damn. Besides, it’s a catchy enough tune, it’s like the musical version of an episode off old Nickelodeon. It sounds the most formulated of the album thus far.
“Cascades” opens like a whale song gone electric guitar. Two more guitar lines add a subtle note of anxiety beneath Mann’s pleading and justifying words. A pick-me-up, a relaxing vibe, a release – you get all of this and more as the instrumental lead-out switches between tones. It’s a rather fulfilling 5:42 spent.
Closing with bonus track “Swim In a Tight Parallel,” the consistent momentum of guitar after guitar after guitar and a little drums slows ever so slightly. Only to come back with its usual force. And by this point in the album, the end, you’ll be able to know what’s “usual” about it and what’s not. Rock progresses freshly, even while maintaining its sound from your youth, however far in the past that actually was.
Single Serving: Mittenfields – The Fresh Sum
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You and I both know that you need some fiery garage rock in your life. You know — the type of jagged...You and I both know that you need some fiery garage rock in your life. You know — the type of jagged-edged rock n roll that could potentially melt your face off if mishandled. Well, Washington D.C.’s Mittenfields, a band who aren’t afraid to swing for the fences, may be your new best friends. Their debut single “My Mind Is An Avalanche” has got it all: not one, but three dangerously energized guitars, shout-to-the-ceiling harmonies, and a rhythm section that sounds like it could implode. Led by one of the hardest-working and most-likable dudes in the D.C. indie-rock scene, Dave Mann (formerly of Twins of a Gazelle), these five dudes make enough noise and play with enough energy to light up a city block. Their debut EP – The Fresh Sum – is coming soon. Consider yourself warned.
Album Review: Mittenfields - The Fresh Sum EP
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A roaring juggernaut of swirling guitars, soaring choruses and raging emotions, Mittenfields’ The Fr...A roaring juggernaut of swirling guitars, soaring choruses and raging emotions, Mittenfields’ The Fresh Sum grabs you from the very beginning of “Mixed Signals (On The Rocks)” and takes you on a roller coaster journey of highs and lows that will leave you ready and waiting for their debut full-length. The a fore-mentioned track starts out slowly and builds into a crashing wave of screaming guitars (and vocals) that will quickly make yourself question whether you need to have the knob turned that far the right…or should you turn it farther?
This is exactly what the quintet from Washington DC was created for - they want, no, they crave the noise and with their three-pronged attack of guitars they bring it in a fashion that you don’t hear often in today’s music scene. The gem of the five-song collection is “My Mind Is An Avalanche” (which we wrote about here), an honest to goodness avalanche of Dave Mann’s shouted vocals backed by more rhythm and roaring guitar work than any band has a right to. The real build-up begins at about 3:00 into the song, culminating in a smash of aural-chaos that is, in a word, awesome.
“Goliath FTW” is a bit more bluesy and less hyper-charged. It showcases a softer side of Mittenfields, though I’ve heard many a band claim that a track like this showcases their harder edge. Judge it how you will, but it’s no slouch. “Cascades” opens to feedback and distortion like a shoegaze serenade. The instrumentation is definitely very waterfall/cascade-esque, and the catchy vocals that fill the chorus create a stellar track that can hold it’s own among the rest.
The bonus track, “Swim In A Tight Parallel” brings back the calamity found in the first two songs on the EP. Though the soft vocals in the opening verse appear to come harder than the swelling choruses for our intrepid vocalist, “Swim” would make for an excellent end to a show and it definitely is a great closer for this set.
Mittenfields is every bit of seven foot tall, and live up to the words on their Facebook: everything louder than everything else. Do not fret, though, dear reader. They appear to be gentle folk without guitars in their hands - at least from the small bit I have spoken with them.
They only intend to swallow you in sound.
Introducing // Mittenfields
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My ears always seem to perk up when I read about a band described as containing a “three-guitar assa...My ears always seem to perk up when I read about a band described as containing a “three-guitar assault.” But for Washington, D.C.’s Mittenfields, “assault” may be a bit too much. That word brings to mind the idea of consistency, while on the band’s debut EP, The Fresh Sum (out on July 26), the guitars sway back and forth between articulation and bombardment. Songs like “Mixed Signals (On the Rocks)” and “Goliath FTW” keep the band in post-rock, shoegazing territory. With slower, drawn out rhythms pushing along distorted notes soaked in feedback, the band is able to move steadily from march to attack mode as the sporadic assaults conquer your ear canals.
There is no song on this release that is skippable, but among the selections, the EP’s highlight comes in the form “My Mind is an Avalanche” – a six-minute composition where the vocals shine as brilliantly as the layer upon layer upon layer of aggressive guitar strumming. While the vocals are closer to being spoken and yelled on a few of the tracks, on this one, a harmonious howl similar to that of David Byrne or Win Butler gives the song a mountain of emotion not seen on the other tracks. Not to say that the other tracks don’t contain any – they most certainly do – but it’s all amplified and best exemplified on “My Mind is an Avalanche.” As the thumping bass line and guitars draw the curtain on the song, I became confident that this release might be up there with Legs Like Tree Trunks as one of my favorite EPs of the year so far.
There are actually some similarities between the bands in terms of having arrangements that contain individual movements, breaking away from the traditional intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus songs. From there, the bands diverge and Mittenfields goes down the more aggressive path that harkens more to early nineties indie rock. On the verge of putting out The Fresh Sum, this young band appears to be firing on all cylinders, having plans to release a full-length album in the future according to a recent Facebook post.
Album Review: Mittenfields – The Fresh Sum EP
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It takes quite a lot to render yours truly wordless, believe you me. But listening to The Fresh Sum ...It takes quite a lot to render yours truly wordless, believe you me. But listening to The Fresh Sum EP by local favorites Mittenfields I found myself grasping to find words to adequately express my sentiments towards this 5-song juggernaut. After all, the DC quintet has been one of my favorite live bands for a little while now (not to mention being one of the loudest bands in town), but hearing this first taste of what Mittenfields can do on record has been something else entirely. This EP is the sound of something totally new and wonderful for this here city best known for hardcore and go-go.
For the uninitiated, Mittenfields is composed of a singing bassist (Dave Mann), a dandy drummer (Brian Moran), and three ridiculously talented guitarists (Donald Seale, Michael Ball, and Sam Sherwood). What these five made happen in the studio is nigh on magical. Sonic touchstones here vary from Pavement to the Arcade Fire to early Verve to 90s college radio, but Mittenfields has evolved a sound that is quite singular indeed. Each song feels like an epic, orchestrated on a grand scale, almost every note pulsating with an electric charge. Mann’s empassioned, occasionally appealingly muddy yelps are given dramatic flourish thanks to the intense, intricate strummings of Seale, Ball, and Sherwood, and Moran keeping time with authority and ease. The songs are at once hugely different yet seemingly fitting together hand in glove, thanks to all that dang talent this band possesses in spades.
The Fresh Sum EP impresses from the burning intensity of first song “My Mind is An Avalanche” to the closing seconds of the rambunctious “Goliath FTW,” and everything in between is a treat to listen to. For now, my personal favorite is “Mixed Signals (On The Rocks),” all starry-eyed slow motion, shoegaze, and wave upon wave of sonic splendor. Taking a more straightforward, rock-centric approach, “Swim In A Tight Parallel” is choc full of shouty vocals and mountainous riffage, given just the right amount of fuzz. “Cascades” begins with a wash of Verve EP-esque distortion, ever so lovely, before evolving into a sweeping, guitar-laden weighty sprawl. If this is what Mittenfields can do on just one EP, I for one can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.
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New music from a DC band that sounds pretty strong (think Preston School of Industry with balls) and...New music from a DC band that sounds pretty strong (think Preston School of Industry with balls) and is free at the moment — nice artwork as well from a great designer pal John Foster.
QUICK SHOTS: Cabin Dogs, Dead Exs, and Mittenfields
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Screaming, atmospheric punk with vocals that sound like David Byrne. Can’t go wrong with a combo li...Screaming, atmospheric punk with vocals that sound like David Byrne. Can’t go wrong with a combo like that, can you?
Mittenfields - The Fresh Sum
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Written on the outside of the envelope containing this CD were the words "For fans of Justin Beiber'...Written on the outside of the envelope containing this CD were the words "For fans of Justin Beiber's hair, Lindsay Lohan's wrongful convictions, and the 1990s." With a handwritten blurb like that how could we not cover this cool little EP? Actually we would've covered this disc anyway...because the folks in this band write and record some truly cool gripping modern pop/rock with a difference. Unlike most pop bands these folks pack a mighty big power punch. No light and cute three minute throwaway wonders here. These folk write good songs...but they know how to let spontaneity kick in and drive the tunes to anther dimension. When these folks get going they can really belt out some heavy sounds. Five killer tracks here including "Mixed Signals (On The Rocks)," "My Mind Is An Avalanche," and "Swim In A Tight Parallel." Cool stuff...heady and quite intense.
3 Songs on Repeat
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"My Mind Is An Avalanche" (The D.C.-based 5-piece band has just self-released their debut EP The Fre..."My Mind Is An Avalanche" (The D.C.-based 5-piece band has just self-released their debut EP The Fresh Sum. Their sound incorporates the rhythm-centric sound of their hometown with a fuzzed out 3-guitarist attack and a quirky pop sense for a worthy debut!)
Mittenfields - Mean Ideas - The Plums -- Black Cat - Aug 8 2011
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Mittenfields - The crowd has been sizable all night with the backroom about 80-85% full. They instan...Mittenfields - The crowd has been sizable all night with the backroom about 80-85% full. They instantly take to the Mittenfields sound. Although shoegaze is the key, I am struck with the classic rock foundation present. The rhythm section is surrounded by three guitarists who do head off to the stratosphere with regularity, but there are great rock sounds and good song structure as well. The bassist handles vocal duties and supplies good energy throughout. He and the drummer always keep the set moving forward with significant thrust. One guitarist off to the side physically reminds me of the recently departed Mark Tulin of the Electric Prunes and the music tonight does fit right in with the "Get Me to the World on Time" spirit of the Prunes. The band is loud, but stays out of the pain range which allows more focus on the songs which show enough quality that they could even stand a lighter treatment if desired. But why do that, when you can create the exciting guitar work that this band accomplishes. This was a solid set tonight and I plan to see them again as they have the skills and energy needed to become a fixture of the DC scene.
Mittenfields "The Fresh Sum"
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I don't feel any conflicting emotions going on in my head when I try to figure out what category to ...I don't feel any conflicting emotions going on in my head when I try to figure out what category to place this in. It is shoegaze and then some. But every label requires more detail... The opener, "Mixed Signals" roars away with waves of guitar sound. Intense, emotional, loud... all the good things that good shoegaze music provides are present here. It was also nice to see some varied tempos and volumes along with some instrumental twists as the five-song ep continued. I particularly liked the wah-wah guitar sneaking its way into the mix on "My Mind is an Avalanche". It mixes in with quiet moments before making way for a nice wild ride toward the finish. This was my favorite of this short set. For better or worse, the ep started to settle in a little too comfortably for a bit until the "bonus cut" "Swim in a Tight Parallel" brought it back up a notch. Most any shoegaze fan or loud rock music lover will enjoy this release. There are examples of excellent songwriting here and even the lesser material sounds like it would be a kick in the brain on stage.
Mittenfields - “My Mind Is an Avalanche”
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DC’s Mittenfields want to psych you out with their recent EP The Fresh Sum. Soaring, emblazoned gui...DC’s Mittenfields want to psych you out with their recent EP The Fresh Sum. Soaring, emblazoned guitars ring through the night and the electronics bend and fuse together for some righteous shoegaze jams. Singer/bassist Dave Mann is a dead ringer for Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Pixies’ Kim Deal, respectively, and that’s a good thing.
“Goliath FTW” is an-country electronic feast as the band conjurs Wilco’s vigor and songwriting. The song, much like the rest of the tracks on the EP, changes gears in a very natural way, but there really is a lot going on.
Luckily for us Richmonders, Mittenfields (pictured below) will stop by The Republic on Thursday, 12/1 at 10pm for FREE! Joining them will be The Snowy Owls for their last performance until the new year. This is a show not to be missed!
Mittenfields, The Fresh Sum EP
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here’s a great, great looseness to The Fresh Sum, the debut EP from Washington, DC band Mittenfields...here’s a great, great looseness to The Fresh Sum, the debut EP from Washington, DC band Mittenfields; it’s the kind of laidback, everybody-does-their-thing kind of feel that I hear far, far too infrequently these days. Hell, since the late ’90s, in fact.
It’s the sound epitomized by indie-rock bands like Superchunk or Archers of Loaf, where the rhythm section rumbles along, holding things down, while the guitars — three of ‘em, in this case — all squall and wrestle over the top, exploding in bursts of feedback and static and just flat-out noise but still somehow holds tight to a melody line (or lines) as things roll along.
And to their credit, Mittenfields pull it off, and well. I love those overfuzzed, hazy guitars, which slide between shoegazery dreampop and amps-on-fire Hüsker Dü roar with nonchalant ease; I love the staggering, stuttering drums that sound like they’re almost about to fall apart but never quite do; I love bassist/singer Dave Mann’s droney, melodic basslines; and I love Mann’s rough-edged, half-howled vocals.
There’s a fair resemblance to Superchunk here, definitely, but there’s also some Pacific Northwestern post-grunge rawness (think Treepeople), a heavy dose of head-nodding shoegaze, and a cool, cool hint of Harvey Danger or the wholly-underappreciated Possum Dixon in that strained, frenzied voice of Mann’s.
I’m having a hard time picking a high point out of the five tracks here, although the “thick”-sounding intro bit and skypunching chorus very nearly puts “Goliath FTW” on a level up above the rest. But hey, that almost feels like unfair favoritism; I’d much rather just put The Fresh Sum on and let it run the whole through, then do it again, and again. Hell, yes.
LIVE + Interview / Mittenfields
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It’s sometimes tough and precarious to judge a band on just an EP’s worth of tunes. Even if it’s on ...It’s sometimes tough and precarious to judge a band on just an EP’s worth of tunes. Even if it’s on the longer side, there’s just barely enough time and space to get a band’s mission statement. Sometimes, though, a shorter release is so dense and surprising and unabashed in its musical self-awareness that you just know you’re gonna dig whatever this band comes out with next. That’s how I feel about Mittenfields and their EP, The Fresh Sum. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Take the band’s word by streaming the EP below and, specifically, take singer/bassist Dave Mann’s and guitarist Mike Ball’s words in our interview after the jump. Most of all, check them out at the Smiling Moose this Thursday night!
Like I said, I’m impressed by the power of this EP. The sheer energy and multitude of ideas (and decibels) packed in just five songs leave me eager to hear plenty more. And fearful for my ears’ safety! I catch splashes of The Pixies and Buit to Spill, Pavement and My Bloody Valentine, but while some bands are described like this when they actually sound a lot like one of the bands and only bring to mind the others by association, I actually do mean that Mittenfields sound, at the same time, like a lot of bands but also only themselves. This EP is a celebration of rock sounds, not a rehashing of old school vibes, and that deserves recognition, in itself. These songs are darn catchy, to boot.
Here are the show details: this Thursday night, 04.26, 9:00pm upstairs at the Smiling Moose on the South Side. Also playing are Pittsburgh indie rocker Caleb Pogyor and his band The Talkers (check out his album on Bandcamp, it seriously rocks), and local alt-rockers Elephant. Just $5 at the door, can’t beat it. So without further ado, let’s chat with Mittenfields!
What’s the band’s back story? How did everyone meet and start playing music together?
Dave: The band has been through various line-ups but Sam and Dave have kept the moniker going since 2008 and it started with the two of us driving to Manassas, VA, from DC twice a week to meet up with the other half of the band after we all found each other on Craigslist. Three long years later, Sam and Dave ended up recruiting Mike, Donald and Brian to form the world dominating version of the band that we all know now.
Mike: I had sort of known Dave from when he booked my previous band for a local show a few years ago. In the summer of 2010 he was looking for a new guitarist for one of his other bands and eventually invited me to jam with Mittenfields. Donald and I joined the band at the same time, in late 2010, after Dave convinced Sam there should be three guitarists, which was something I had wanted to try for a few years. Brian joined the band a couple months before me and Donald. He had started working with Dave on another project, and when that fizzled out, Mittenfields was in need of a drummer.
Tell us about recording The Fresh Sum. Were these songs you had worked out live previously, or newer stuff? How do you feel about the finished product?
Dave: “Mixed Signals” was written as a response to me telling the band that we should write an easy and straightforward song at one of our practices. So we wrote that song in a matter of minutes. Also, “Mixed Signals” is the only song on the EP that was written by the current line-up. All of the other songs on the EP were previously written before this line-up was formed. However, this line-up put its own twist to these songs so there would be a sense of creativity between the new members and what already existed. I personally think that the EP is one of the best sounding produced EPs I have heard in a while. Even if someone doesn’t dig the tunes, they should be able to appreciate the production of the album and all credit goes to Eamonn Aiken who runs The Bastille studio out of Inner Ear in Alexandria, VA.
Mike: I think we were all very happy with the EP. Eamonn was great to work with and let us try some wacky stuff (often at h
The Fresh Sum
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I couldn’t believe the full sound that came echoing out of my laptop as I listened to Mittenfields, ...I couldn’t believe the full sound that came echoing out of my laptop as I listened to Mittenfields, The Fresh Sum. This album is such a fresh alternative to the lo-fi/shoegaze that seems to be very popular these days. It’s an album that you can feel rushing through your veins, moving through your limbs and mixing up your senses. It’s loud and wonderful, a supersonic boom enough to wake up your sleeping soul. All that’s left for you to do is listen.
Two EPs That Slipped Through The Net - Avalanche Ammo/Mittenfields
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Mittenfields have been on my radar even longer than Avalanche Ammo, seeing as I received their debut...Mittenfields have been on my radar even longer than Avalanche Ammo, seeing as I received their debut EP The Fresh Sum before its release date back in July. The Washington indie act scratch at the surface of paranoiac rock a la Modest Mouse, yet with broader, more grandiose brush strokes. They have piqued the interest of others such as The Dismemberment Plan, which is always a nice leg up, yet if the strength of opening track 'Mixed Signals (On The Rocks)' is any indication, they are doing enough on their own to do well.
Swim In A Tight Parallel
My Mind Is An Avalanche
Wake Up Sleepyhead
Past Is Prologue
|May 30, 2013 Thursday||8:00 PM||Rock and Roll Hotel||Washington, DC, US|
|Jun 24, 2013 Monday||8:00 PM||Black Cat||Washington, DC, US|