One of our most exciting new discoveries of 2012 is California’s The Neighbourhood, a band who elicited such buzz in the LBYB offices that we not only tagged them as Ones To Watch, but had them in for a Spotlight week when they dropped their excellent debut EP I’m Sorry…
As they’re currently hard at work on their debut album, they’ve redone their first standout track, "Female Robbery" making everything more gritty, with extra distortion on the vocals and more thumping drums. Along with the new version of the track, they’ve also released a new video for it which is a darker take from the original, but maintains the same aesthetic as their found-footage one from back in January.
Below you can stream the new version of "Female Robbery" as well as watch the new video.
Photo by Chandler Michel
As part of our Spotlight feature this week on The Neighbourhood, we asked them to take over the site for a few hours today and post whatever they wanted to as long as it was music-related. This is that.
This 4 peice punk rock band is fucking awesome. New album coming soon from these guys that we’ve had the pleasure of being able to listen to and it is truly a solid set of songs. The singer/guitar player Zack Sekuler is actually the same guy behind our videos for "Female Robbery" and "Sweater Weather".
The Braces are easily one of the most well rounded bands from our area. You’ll never see these guys play a bad show and they refuse to stop entertaining you with how much movement you’ll see from them on stage. Check them out on facebook and bandcamp, and also check out their video for "I’d Rather Be Hot".
I was a little apprehensive going into my first listen of The Neighbourhood's "I’m Sorry…" EP. I knew they could make a great track: "Sweater Weather" deserved every bit of its success, and is sitting comfortably at the top of my Tracks Of The Year list so far. "Female Robbery" didn’t quite blow me away to the same extent, but it was certainly a pleasurable listen.
So were these a couple of flashes in the pan, or a real indication of potential? Five songs is hardly enough to predict their future career, but as far as things go I’m leaning to the latter. "Sweater Weather" is the highlight - no doubt about it - but there’s not a weak track on there. Pleasingly, it showcases a diversity of influences and approach beyond what we’ve heard so far, rather than just offering up three more of the same.
The regular line that’s been trotted out is that they have a similar sound to Lana Del Rey. It’s not an entirely unjustified comment, I suppose, although I’m hardly itching to label them West Coast Gangsta Nancy Sinatra's (out of interest, who, other than her PRs, has ever spontaneously described Lana in that way?). We don't need another Biggie or Tupac on our hands. My problem with the comparison, though, is that it misses the point: both look to the same set of influences; any mutual similarity is incidental.
Specifically, that set of influences largely seems to be the years between 1965 and 1978, or thereabouts. Without meaning to claim a California band for my Sceptred Isle, they’re very British Invasion. I mean, the climax of "Baby Came Home"? That’s "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", isn’t it? Sounding like The Beatles is no bad thing. Most of all, though, they remind me of The Kinks; whether it’s the twang of the guitar or the wry lyrics that does it I don’t know.
Speaking of lyrics, the other regular line has been to reference singer Jesse’s previous dabbling in hip-hop, and on this front the commentary has been on point. Rhythm is absolutely central to his delivery, and the verses are often barely melodic - particularly in their current single, "Wires". I suspect he’s wise to steer clear of the high-notes, judging by his husky tones, but this isn’t to say he can’t sing. If there’s one thing above all that stands out about the EP, it’s the brilliant vocal hooks that spring up in the choruses.
On the production side, there are some nice touches - the obscure, distorted shout that opens "Female Robbery" is quirky without being off-putting, even if "Blue Jeans" did get there first. That said, the overall sound is fairly lo-fi. Whether that’s a deliberate aesthetic or just that it’s an unsigned band’s first effort is hard to say. I don’t think they’d lose too much soul by polishing things up a little, but equally there’s a certain endearing charm to the rough edges. The drums in particular benefit from some crunch, recalling the sound of an old 12-bit sampler.
Overall, then, "I’m Sorry…" doesn’t really put a foot wrong. At its heart are four very good tracks, and one great one. You don’t get much better than that as a debut. It’s a rather laconic statement of intent, and I find myself wondering whether the boys ever plan to up the tempo, or if they’ll insist on detached understatement indefinitely. Either way, though, I’m intrigued to find out, and what more do you want from an opening gambit? At the very least, I’m that much less nervous - and that much more excited - for their next release.
It’s finally here. After first being blown-away by Southern California’s The Neighbourhood back at the end of March, calling them Ones To Watch, they’re here to prove us right. Last night - or morning, depending on where you are - just as the clock struck 12 AM PST, the band released their first full body of work, "I’m Sorry…".
We’d already heard "Female Robbery" and song-of-the-year-contender "Sweater Weather", and, premiering on Zane Lowe (!!!) "Wires", and now those three stellar tracks are joined by "Leaving Tonight" and "Baby Came Home" to make 18 of the strongest minutes in music so far this year.
And, as an added bonus, The Neighbourhood are also the first band to participate in our brand-new Spotlight feature! Lined up for you later this week are an interview, a newly-revamped Desert Island Discs, a review of the EP, as well as a takeover, in which we give the five guys from the band control of the site for a day to post what they please.
If none of that is exciting to you - though we’re not really sure why it wouldn’t be - and all you care about is the music, you can stream the entire EP below, or, in exchange for an email, download it (also below). If you’re more an iTunes kind of person you can also do that.
I discovered The Neighbourhood late last night, while talking to my girlfriend. The only thing I could muster is “I think I’ve come across the music of the future”. It was all thanks to Neon Gold Records, who tweeted about a band that was “like Cold War Kids making a record in Lana Del Rey's universe”, which to me seemed an interesting enough premise. And, to my ears, is a pretty accurate description.
As far as the band goes, there’s not much I’m able to tell, as I know virtually nothing about them. We know that they’re what seems to be a five-piece from California and that two months ago they posted their first song, "Female Robbery", on their Soundcloud. In reality, though, all that’s necessary is the music, and these guys have everything it takes to make a name for themselves.
That first song opens up the same way Lana Del Rey's best songs do: bells, thick instrumentation and sampled yelling. In fact, the production here is very much in Lana's same vein with huge drums, and instrumentation placed far in the mix to leave plenty of room for vocals that carry the main melodies. The whole thing is slathered in a layer of fuzz, which ups the ante on LDR's crispiness.
The track is massive, and while the production is perhaps what makes it stand out, there’s clearly great songwriting and musicians behind it, and no cringe-worthy lyrics, making it the Lana Del Rey for indie rock kids.
As good as "Female Robbery" is, though, "Sweater Weather", just posted yesterday, really takes the cake. At times, the instrumentation is much more skeletal in this case, formed mostly by a steady beat that’s sprinkled lightly with guitars and bass. The track opens with a crisp, possibly hybrid (drum kit & MPC) beat that actually brings to mind Outkast's "The Way You Move", saving the clear differences.
From there, it shoots skyward, with a fantastic vocal delivery that’s not entirely sung and that tells the story of guy wants to get with girl. It’s a pop story told behind an indie-rock meets hip-hop musical style and production that has found the band in a niche that, as far as I know, is unique to them.
Since getting pimped yesterday, the band have started to gather a bit of well-deserved buzz. We here at Listen Before You Buy are fully behind them, and I personally, am salivating at the though of what their future might bring.
For now, you can listen to both songs below. Unfortunately it seems like their Soundcloud downloads have reached their limit, but I’m sure with a bit of a search you might be able to grab legal copies.