Oars video for “Karats” made from newspapers, old maps, twigs and a lot of ingenuity.

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.

Track Listing

01. Black Eyes

02. Stained

03. Our Attachments

04. Special Delivery

05. Karats (MP3 | VIDEO)

06. Prism

07. We Find Beauty

08. Good Company

09. Junkshine

10. S.D. Reprise

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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