North Highlands
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North Highlands

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Rock Pop


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The audience at last night’s Ra Ra Riot show, their third in a four-night run, skewed towards young and preppy, sporadically spilled beer was met with collegiate cries of "party foul!," and afterwards I overheard more than a few groups discussing the subway routes back to Union Square. It had all the markings of an NYU freshmen mixer.

Lucky for the Class of 2014, they were treated to one of the city’s best new bands, perhaps not even realizing it. The North Highlands that played in the second of two opening slots was not the North Highlands that we’ve come to know and love from their EP — a study in warm, folk-tinged chamber pop. The band that showed up last night pounded hard on their instruments, hopped around onstage, and showed no hesitation letting loose. Opening the set was a downright dance jam elevated by a richness and elegance not too often seen around Brooklyn these days. “Sugar Lips” twirled and “Collar Bones,” even giddily sped up, showcased singer Brenda Malvini's voice — a grounded, honeyed drawl that rounds off anything with an edge ("more" becomes "mora" and so on). By the time the band hit its mid-set stride, any of her early jitters were at bay and anthem “Here’s to You” found her center stage, away from her keyboard, screaming “We don’t care, we don’t care, we don’t care anymore/” Ra Ra Riot certainly had their work cut out for them. - The L Magazine

see URL - Stereogum

See link - Pitchfork

see URL - Stereogum

"The sweet, moving folk chamber pop songs are the musical equivalent to comfort food, something that is desired excessively for its consoling nature. The band’s gorgeous swell of instrumentation seemed to clear the dark overcast and rain that raged outside for the 30-minute set." - The Deli

"The female-fronted North Highlands play charming, borderline-sassy psych-pop that Wild Things soundtrack-era Karen O and Elephant Six fans will eat right up, they’ll love it so." -

"With like-minded groups such as Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective now breaking through the Billboard Top 20, it's only a matter of time before North Highlands supplant them as local faves." -

“Brooklyn’s North Highlands run with a broad palette… but this doesn’t mean they get caught up in fuzzy atmospherics — all the songs on their recently self-released Sugar Lips EP are driven by hooks and melodies first, delicate charm second. If you dig Freelance Whales you will probably like these kids as well.” - Stereogum

“the first song these guys ever wrote together is just brilliant… ‘Collar Bones’ is an irresistible bit of chamber-pop—airy and gently swaying, and eventually a little bit jumpy, with singer Brenda Malvini’s vocals adding an almost vaudevillian quality to the mix. And here’s the kicker: Everything they’ve done since is just as good, if not better.” - L Magazine

“Singer Brenda Malvini has one of those airy but strong voices that seems to have dictated the sound of the band, it all just goes down so well together.” - Brooklyn Vegan

“Sugar Lips by North Highlands is easily one of the top EPs of 2009. We’re talking top five, or even top three perhaps… Title track “Sugar Lips” and opener “Collar Bones” are favorites, but there really are no weak points on the EP.” - Fensepost


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



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.