If you haven’t heard Jersey Shore-based Sonic Blume yet, you’re going to love the young dream-pop outfit — especially if you’re a fan of alternative-rock pioneers The Smiths, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and The Cure. At times, they emulate that great and greatly unsung style of music complete with a faux British accent.
Their latest on Asbury Park’s MOTO Records, Beach Karma — a nine-track follow-up to last year’s five-song self-titled debut EP — features another five songs, as well as four interludes, all entitled “Door” and numbered 1 to 4. The interludes mainly focus on the effects of 17-year-old synth player Max Connery, who also handles lead vocal and some guitar duties, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.
Beach Karma opens with an alternative dance beat a la Depeche Mode but devolves into a wonderful dichotomy that features a lush, sweltering atmospheric wash of keyboards juxtaposed with choppy rhythms into a dissonant guitar squall. A staccato beat and guitar jangle throughout is reminiscent of The Cure.
After the quirky, hypnotic pulse of “Door #1,” Andrew Phelan’s jumping baseline and Chase Landgrebe’s cascading guitar bounce on “Sunflower Bean” also recall The Cure, particular “Just Like Heaven.” Both players, as well as drummer Danny Murray, also are only 17. All four, who met at Count Basie Theatre’s Rockit Academy, defy their age musically and composing-wise and are aided greatly by the rich production chops of Erik Kase Romero (The Front Bottoms, Deal Casino) via Lakehouse Recording Studios. The studio is related to MOTO, a division of the artist program at Lakehouse Music Academy.
“Door #2,” a simple piano-driven water-like interlude that quotes FDR’s “Nothing to Fear” speech, segues into “Palms.” If the melancholy of The Smiths and Joy Division was the ice crushed in a shoe-gaze/dream-pop blender, you would have the music smoothie that is “Palms.”
An acoustic guitar and night sounds, such as crickets, are added to the synths of “Door #3.” That leads to a cacophony of effects from Connery and Landgrebe mashed up against the punk-style drums of Danny Murray on “All Things You Say.”
The final interlude is the only one with vocals, which hauntingly match an eerie synth, like Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom of Hogwarts.
Like they did with “Going Home” on their debut EP, Sonic Blume close Beach Karma with an epic dreamy jam, “In the Sun.” Recently crafted into a video that will be released soon, the standout track features the same hypnotic, pulsing tone as “Door #2,” but with a different melody and rhythm. The jam is kind of like a fifth interlude that will please the shoe-gaze and dream-pop fan, while turning older fans of such bands as Modern English onto those styles.
Sonic Blume will open for popular Asbury two-piece Brick + Mortar on Aug. 22 at Hemingway’s in Seaside Heights. They’ll also play Aug 26 at The Downtown in Red Bank, with Skyeline; Sept. 2 at the Chubby Pickle in Atlantic Highlands, with Cranston Dean; Sept. 3, with The Shoobies and Mandala, and Oct. 19, with Covey and I/O, both at The Saint at Asbury Park; Sept. 20 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick; Sept. 22 at Asbury Lanes, for Tor Miller’s album release, and Nov. 16 at Asbury Park Yacht Club for the second annual Makin Waves Hunger Benefit for Food for Thought with The Cold Seas and Wetbrain.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.