In an era where indie rock artists like the Arcade Fire have become Grammy-winning superstars, there’s a massive danger of the genre being diluted and exploited. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of unpolluted musical treasures to discover in the genre.
I’ve been scouring over a ton of new and obscure bands of late, but one of the first emerging acts I discovered this year remains arguably my best find — Brooklyn, New York’s The Antlers. The band overnight earned a place in my favorite indie rock bands of all time, alongside the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Stars.
Fronted by Peter Silberman the band truly came together at the end of 2007 with keyboardist Darby Cicci and percussionist Michael Lerner.
Prior to that Silberman had released a full length In the Attic of the Universe. In the Attic… was ethereal, psychedelic, and dreamy. Overall it was a very pleasant listen. But at the end of the day it was just one more listenable, but unextraordinary record joining the masses of indie releases.
Clearly the addition of the new members and personal events in Silberman’s life (an abusive relationship) proved a catalyst. In 2009 the band released Hospice an album that is nothing short of pure brilliance.
I’m always emphasizing that there’s plenty of good bands, but at some point you have to make an macroevolutionary leap in sound and production to truly stand out
The Antlers made that kind of leap.
Silberman’s voice bears a great deal of similarity to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. This lilting falsetto went from spacy on In the Attic… to painfully haunting on Hospice. And backing it now is a wall of sound owing to the band’s new additions.
The result is a brilliant concept album telling the tale of an abusive relationship between a hospice worker and his terminally-ill patient. The album’s opening track “Kettering” sets the tone for what is to come. Its lyrics are crystal clear, poignant, and beautiful. It’s the kind of song that makes the hairs on your arms and back stand on end.
Standout tracks on the rest of the album include “Sylvia”, the uptempo jam “Two”, and “Bear” — a track that may become modern indie rock’s counterpart of Ben Folds Five’s alternative rock class “Brick” (whoops gave away what the song was about!). This is an album where every song is great, but some songs are absolutely startling in their brilliance.
The band (and French Kiss Records, their label) have been kind enough to leave up fan posted tracks on YouTube. Listen through the album and see what you think:
If you enjoy what you hear I have some very GOOD news for you. The Antlers’ new album Burst Apart drops May 10.
But that’s not all. On Sunday, June 12 The Antlers will be visiting The Magic Stick. This intimate venue offers a great chance to see bands up close. Don’t miss the chance to see this great act up close before they become huge. My friends and I are going to be in attendance, so if you see me, say hi.