Album art from The Bad Ones by Blonds.
Blonds’ music is so good that, according to the band, it will “swallow your soul.”
The dream pop, electronic duo, based in New York creates sounds as magical as their hometown of Treasure Coast, Florida suggests: far out, sensational and stimulating heart-wrenching allure. Proving their talent runs as deep as their intention, they released a stirring cover of Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host” in March, a remake that not only does the song justice, but carries an original vibe of its own. It was a teaser that led perfectly into the launch of their debut later in the year, and impressed the world over by paying homage to one of the hardest bands out there to replicate.
“‘Talk Show Host’ is my favorite Radiohead song, but Jordy [Asher] was apprehensive to cover it at first because of his immense respect for the band,” Blonds’ Cari Rae tells Rolling Stone. “He said it was like attempting to play with perfection. I begged him for almost a month, and I’m happy to say my persistence paid off.”
The sentiment and sonic mood of the track seems to suit the young duo and their repertoire quite well. After releasing a two disc EP in February, Blonds marked their official debut with The Big Ones in August, an LP that seems to artistically chronicle their life transition from Southern utopia to New York grit, shifting the sound quality of their music from luxury beaches to city streets. They left Florida for greater opportunity, to find a place where they would be able to expand their style, and their freedom to play as they pleased.
“Musically, it hasn’t been until recently that bands from there have really broken out,” Asher told RiotofPerfume.com. “For a while it was only Northern Florida bands that were getting any kind of exposure while we were just known for really awful bands like Limp Bizkit and that kind of stuff. That was the musical rap that we had, and everything else that you see on the news about here is true because it is a pretty crazy place. So it made it really hard to do anything interesting as far as a music career is concerned. You have to drive five-six hours just to even get out of Florida, if you have a gig somewhere else, and it’s a long six hours of nothingness on the way. It makes it difficult.”
Accordingly, the two headed north, writing most of the album before they hit the big town. To produce their work, they recruited Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Spoon), and spent two weeks of 12-15 hour days creating a metaphoric collection of pop rock sensationalism.
“It feels kind of like you just had a baby,” Blonds told New York’s The Deli magazine. “We worked on the album for months, and we are just really excited to see it stepping out into the world.”
In a way, Blonds are electronic blues, like the waning feeling of a deep longing as it spins through cycles of glorious resolve and melancholy memory. Their first single “Run” plays like a garage-tinged Johnny Cash mixed with the bold ballads of Florence Welch. Thematically, The Bad Ones centers on brooding love and the mysterious banter between heart and mind.
“I think that most of the lyrics we write is about us two, but they can be translated to be about other people as well,” Asher says to RiotofPerfume.com. “We want to take certain things about us, or feelings such as the overall optimism in “time” and make it so that other people can relate to and experience it as well as feelings of love, fear, and uncertainty. I think that today, in 2012, it’s finally ok to try to make positive music again that isn’t just pigeonholed as being soulless pop music. Bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had very positive messages behind them, but also challenged the audiences with the music that they were creating. That’s what I try to do when I write music as well. I want to give people a nice sense of optimism.”
Lately, Blonds have been seen rocking sets at CMJ, releasing a string of music videos, hitting any and every spot in Brooklyn, and randomly playing madlibs with quirky hipster journalists. They may still be getting used to the business of music, but the artistic side seems to come naturally. With the panache of their looped harmonies, echoing guitar riffs, and bebop hymnals, they are able to invent something completely unique, juxtaposing retro styles with modern percussive techniques. As a result, they are commonly compared to film noir, Pink Floyd and 1960s surrealism, and, as they themselves point out, there’s a foreign quality to it as well.
“I remember when I was a lot younger I used to go to the library by my house and look in the foreign section for things that looked very odd,” Asher recalls. “There was a French film that I saw called Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie) that came out in the 1970s. It’s a really surreal film about these couples who are trying to have a dinner party and bizarre things keep happening alongside an extremely odd soundtrack. It had a big impact on me, and I started to hunt down other weird things that were also a bit classy at the same time. It’s a great dichotomy to pair strangeness with something simple. Serge Gainsbourg captured that beautifully in his music with his surreal attitude and bizarre outlook on life. There’s really strange and dark subject matter that’s being presented in an airy, light way. Our style is comparable because of that.”
While their taste in music is both eclectic and fine-tuned, Blonds’ attitude is much more basic – just ask them where they got their moniker.
“That was a quick conversation when we were taking a trip between Coconut Creek and the Treasure Coast and were talking about what to name the band,” explains Rae. “Jordy used to be in a band that used the word “blond” in it, spelling it without the “e” as well, so we figured that we’d use it as a standalone band name for the two of us. Then we Googled it to make sure no one else was using it, as we both really liked that spelling of it, and sure enough it wasn’t taken, so it was a sign that it was meant to be.”
Serendipity, by all accounts.
Check out Blonds on Bandcamp!
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