You Should Probably Be Listening to This: Family Portrait
Unlike the majority of East Coasters, I hold a certain proud affinity for New Jersey. I’ve spent countless hours driving down its endless parkways and magnificent turnpike. I’ve wasted days lying on shore and I’ve sweat through my shirt dancing at the Wayne Firehouse. I’ve spent more money than I’d like to admit in it’s fantastic record stores (Vintage Vinyl, Princeton Record Exchange and Curmudgeon Records (RIP), to name a few). In addition to all of these valid reasons, New Jersey gave us Bruce and frankly, that’s more than most states have contributed to my life.
Which is why I’m so thrilled that New Jersey has spawned its own indie rock scene that, with the success of Real Estate and Titus Andronicus, has begun to reveal itself to a national audience. One label in particular, Underwater Peoples, has done a fantastic job of giving these often lo-fi musicians an outlet for their work.
One such band, Family Portrait, put out their first album last year, a self-titled affair that got a smidge of love from a few blogs but quickly seemed to disappear. It’s easy to see why Family Portrait got lost in the shuffle- Real Estate, a band they are already associated with and have surface level similarities to- put out one of the best albums of the year last year. Yet, I see Family Portrait’s self titled record as the perfect foil to Real Estate’s Days. While Days is endlessly meticulous and tight (lazy strumming be damned), Family Portrait is expansive and loose while retaining the defining traits of the Underwater Peoples label- reverb drenched guitar and just the right amount of lo-fi scuff.
Family Portrait’s expansiveness can be best displayed on “Interlude 1/Never Should’ve Been There.” After about a minute of keyboard hum and flanger soaked guitar noodle, the song begins it’s fairly straight forward shuffle. But by two minutes in keyboards are tapping away melodies while horns enter (seemingly out of nowhere) and give the song both a greater weight and unexpected heft. The same guitar noodles that peppered the intro now congeal into hyper melodic loopy solos while singer Evan Brody sings the titular line over and over. Real Estate has yet to do a song this epic!
Speaking of which: “The Other Side” to my ears, is the ultimate 4 chord epic. It was my introduction to the band and probably their best entry point. It’s driving, catchy and features the perfect amount of sneering vocal melodies. It’s the type of straightforward rock song that makes descriptions superfluous and therefore it is linked above for your listening pleasure. Turn it up!