In the spring of 2008, the unassuming duo Oars (David Bratton and Earl Muehlenbach) began an intensive six months of recording, song crafting and experimentation in a closet-sized Greenpoint studio across the street from a fish-smoking plant. Relying on Bratton’s perfectionistic ear for melody and orchestration and Muehlenbach’s lyrics and sharp production skills, they composed meticulously.
The resulting self-titled album seamlessly weaves cunning pop melodies with cascades of home-grown beats, swirling keyboards and bright vocal harmonies built against shimmering walls of smart, soulful pop instrumentation. Guitar and bass are infused with surreal narrative, psychoanalysis, mutinous diatribe, horn blasts, hand claps, and hairpin turns of dense polyrhythms on this cornucopia of modern music influenced by David Bowie, Talking Heads, Studio One dub, Thelonious Monk, Fleetwood Mac, Mouse On Mars, and Stevie Wonder.
Live Oars shows find the duo accomplishing these sounds by switching instruments with drill team precision as Bratton commands guitars, horns, keyboards and percussion and Muehlenbach captains bass, guitar, synthesizers, samples and beats. The two share vocal duties to complete a sound that has drawn contemporary comparisons to such artists as The Knife, Holy Fuck, Prince, The Postal Service, Junior Boys, Pinback, and The Sea and Cake.
The video for the single “Karats” was a long distance love affair – conceived and created by So Spun We Spun West (Doug Arney, Malaki Stahl, and Olivia Mendez) in Seattle who created the landscapes seen in the clip from scratch using cut-outs from magazines, newspapers, old maps, twigs, and drawings. They then steered Bratton and Muehlenbach through the video’s environments via homemade hand-cranked conveyor belts and magnets, super-imposing the duo’s heads (recorded in Brooklyn on a green screen) onto body doubles.
01. Black Eyes
03. Our Attachments
04. Special Delivery
05. Karats (MP3 | VIDEO)
07. We Find Beauty
08. Good Company
10. S.D. Reprise