North Highlands

North Highlands

 New York City, New York, USA

For love and mountains


North Highlands formed in Brooklyn in the early summer of 2009. The group originally followed the vision of singer and principle songwriter Brenda Malvini. Her shy demeanor and exclusive dedication to bedroom sets for audiences of her closest friends kept her relatively unknown until friend and DIY promoter Ric Leichtung declared that he had booked her a show in little over a month. With five short weeks, in the midst of the lazy sun and the honking of taco trucks, Malvini collected a small group of musician friends to help give life to her sketches. What ensued in the weeks to follow took on a life of its own, eventually becoming North Highlands.

Though North Highlands hails from Brooklyn, their music is most easily placed among the baroque and americana indie folk of the Mid and Northwestern states. Though at the heart of the music is Brenda’s swooning vocals and minimalist piano composition, the music is an amalgam of the each members’ unique stylistic approaches. Mike Barron’s guitar, though hinting of the twang of indie folk tradition, most closely compares to the methodical and explosive playing found in post rock. Jasper Berg and Andy Kasperbauer, on drums and bass respectively, mix traditional rock rhythms with those of South Africa and the West Indies. Multi-instrumentalist Daniel Stewart adds perhaps the most important element to the music: his weeping violin and pulsing mandolin playing add the Baroque to North Highland’s music, giving the music on a whole the impression of chamber orchestra versus traditional rock quintet.

Sugar Lips, the bands debut EP, was released December 3rd, 2009, at Cake Shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Recorded in Jasper’s bedroom and a basement in the same summer heat the band formed in, the music evokes both playful whimsy and earnest fervor in its simple but beautiful pop landscapes. There is a caprice and tenacity to the songs that is rarely matched in indie music today; a soulfulness and honesty in live performance that convinces the audience that the songs they are hearing very well could be precipitating from the ether on the spot. Though the band’s first shows were played at DIY venues such as Bushwick’s Market Hotel, the band quickly set itself apart by its quietly complex musical arrangements and the strong melodic base created by Malvini’s voice. The timbre of her voice mixed with the other members’ rich backdrops creates a sound that is nearly impossible to ignore, and her strong but simple lyrics communicate a highly personalized storytelling that is rarely found in Brooklyn’s lo-fi, electro heavy music scene.


Sugar Lips EP (self-release) -- Out 12/3/09
"Hiking" and "Steady Steady" singles, 7" TBA
TBA full length, 2011