Way, way back in 2014, we profiled Stereo Off, and proudly declared them a band to watch. With the recent release of their 2nd EP, The Long Hot Winter, NewsWhistle is doubling down on this New York City quintet.
The Long Hot Winter is available on iTunes, Amazon, and even on CD Baby! One guesses that the EP will be available at shows, and according to the bands’ Twitter feed (give ‘em a follow), they are playing July 28th at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming shows, but if you are a music fan in NYC, make the effort, party people.
Stereo Off toys with your expectations in the best possible ways. Are they “indie”? Well, yeah, as far as I can tell they fit that very specific bill (hell, the guitarist might be willing to talk about beard maintenance if you ask nicely). At the same time, though, they are independent in the purer sense, and while they certainly play around with dance and electronic elements it doesn’t come across as twee.
Stereo Off is certainly willing to let their roar off the chain, and they know when to do it.
“Hotel Mirror” opens the EP with a shimmering soundscape akin to seeing that ice hotel in, well, Iceland off in the distance. When the groove kicks in you just know it. Sidebar: is that keyboard a sample of Siouxsie And The Banshees’ “Cities In Dust,” or just super similar? For reference…
… I digress, and I don’t really care. “Hotel Mirror” is just so goddamn cool. It keeps the listener at arm’s length, emotionally, which is definitely the point, I think.
“Automated” continues the trend of an emotional detachment so common in the sound of some of their obvious musical influences. Not to downplay lyrics at all (because I love words), but in this reporter’s opinion sometimes vocals are more about the delivery and how they fit into the overall sound than what nouns and verbs are deployed.
Remember when I said Stereo Off toys with your expectations? The next song, “Supercooler,” kicks the going trend to the curb. It largely jettisons the intentionally sanitized 80s vibe for more of a 90s rock and roll sound. Still, there is twist. Does it remind one of Blur? It should, but take another listen. This version of Blur features Peter Frampton on that crazy ass guitar-vocal-tube thing. Roll down your windows, it’s a wonderful track.
“The Things We Do” brings us back to the 80s tundra, and it isn’t playing around. It’s the only thing I would call a “ballad” on the EP… Until you get to the wicked last minute of the song.
And just like that you are at the last track, “Redesign.” Stereo Off just blows the roof off the joint. Expectations. I don’t want to say they saved the best for last, but they saved the best for last. It’s a guitar blast, and it is a lot of rock and roll fun. “Redesign” contains the lyric my boss, Dan Kadison, mentioned in NewsWhistle’s last profile.
“You’re a cobra with a pink bow, and I’m a great white shark with a blindfold on.”
I kind of get the line, but you know what? I don’t need to fully understand it. It just works. I guess, maybe, it is a metaphor for the band itself. It works. They work. Give them 20 minutes of your time today.
Lead-In Image of Courtesy of Stereo Off
NewsWhistle music contributor Chad Werner is “ahead of the curve, behind the times.” You can contact this rock n’ roll sphinx at firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail) or @scooternotmoped (Twitter).