Middle of the Week Music Special

Album Review: Bern and the Brights.

Members: Bernadette Malavarca, Catherine McGowan, Shawn Fafara, Jose Ulloa

Influences: The Frames, Broken Social Scene, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Led Zepplin, The Clash, Apostle of Hustle, The National

From: Montclair, NJ

They describe their music as: Danceable, romantic, nerd-rock.

Ben and the Brights released a beautiful collection of songs that span different shades of modern rock. Listening to Work the first time, my thought was oh this sounds like No Doubt. After repeated playback I said, naaah, there are bits of The Pretenders and The Sundays there. After the third I think they sound better than No Doubt.

The artwork shows a Woman(Could be Catherine or Bernadette since both women are brunettes) working on what appears to be electrical wirings. Somehow the image  reminds me of  Marie Curie. Slave Driver opens the EP with its melodic tribute to ska. The vocal harmonies are icing on cake. As you go further into War & Games, the atmosphere builds up into 80’s post punk with that feel good theme. I am not a lyrics guy so I don’t care if she is singing about a cereal commercial but this is one hell of a catchy song! The arrangement and clever use of effects are winners. Not swaying like crazy yet? Wait until you hear I see Red. The drums and bass parts are like slices of blue berry cheese cake. The festive brass parts flash in and out leaving you with quieter guitar moments only to build up into sonic confetti.

The moment you reach Sick of Seeing You, Work has already established itself as an important part of your collection. The track Irish Boys makes me smile. It has that kind of “wink at ya” appeal. I love the strong vocals. Makes you think that Catherine has been singing for years. I wish the band would never change their kind of guitar playing. I love that sound. Just the right combination. Not too harsh and not too sweet.

As Long as I’m Alive is a song that says” get up and start jumping all over the room”. Damn, that beat and instruments are irresistible. It makes you think is the kind of song Katrina and the Waves would perform. It seems the term save the best for last applies here. Thieves, Creeps and  Automatons is the best track in the entire EP. When she sings “They’re gonna find you, they’re gonna bound you, they’re gonna seal you…. away, you can almost believe that Bern & the Brightsare going to redeem the spirit of New Wave.

Everything about Work shines, soars and detoxifies. This is a perfect remedy for cynicism. The guys in this band are probably just reminding us that inner joy is still present no matter how many bullets and arrows you have injured through life.

Bern and the Brights: The Magic Tea

More info can be found in the following:


Hey Zac Leger!

A certain Zac Leger who lives in Los Angeles caught my attention in soundcloud.He plays the bouzouki. I noticed he has no links to his other sites. It made me more curious. I sent him a message and we will see how it goes. His style of playing in really interesting. I get the feeling that he is a music instructor. At the start of the track he explains the chords. He plays in a kind of way that builds up into a forceful chorus with thundering strums. I see him in my mind’s eye closing his eyes and moving his head to the sound just like I do.