Brad Oberhofer and company are a New York based band that has been kicking around for the last couple of years, releasing a few singles that garnered them some attention in anticipation of their full length release. ‘Time Capsules’ is an ambitious beginning for Oberhofer and his band mates, that at times meets expectations, and at others seems too lofty too soon.
I tend to separate indie music fans into two categories. The first being the group that listens to Animal Collective with great attention, absorbing the complexity and applauding their sheer genius. The second being the group of indie fans who aren’t afraid to dance. The kind that don’t mind a good hook once in a while, instead of complex arrangements and looped sounds that literally come from the kitchen sink. If you’re in the Animal Collective group (which is okay), Oberhofer isn’t going to be for you. If you’re in both groups, good for you…
Album opener, ‘Heart’ is an example of a song that sounds a little too ambitious for Oberhofer. The piano based songs falls flat, as I just don’t think it makes the grandeur statement that the band was trying to make with it’s opener. Thankfully, it doesn’t take Oberhofer long to get to doing what it does best, playfully rocking out a bit. Second song, ‘Landline’, picks up the pace, sounding like the band could be brethren with fellow indie-popsters Telekinesis. The energy continues with ‘Away Frm U’, playfully spelling the title of the song as something you would see in a text message. The song is pure pop goodness though, possessing jangly guitars working well with all the little bells and whistles the band puts into the song. Literally, there are bells (glockenspiel) and whistling all over this album. Album highlight, ‘I could go’ whistles its way right into your mind instantly, and won’t let go until your ass gets the message and starts shaking. I imagine this song with its toe-tapping tempo and soaring guitars, along with Oberhofer’s yelping that could induce a sing-a-long, is something the band could use to close it’s shows.
The second half of the album continues much in the same vein, displaying little range, and that is okay. While Oberhofer uses a good amount of saccharine, enough to make a Vermont maple tree blush, on ‘Time Capsules’, the band accomplishes what it sets out to do. That’s making you dance, and not the just the head bobbing slacker kind of dancing while your holding your PBR. The jump up and down all night long kind that was famous at sock hops back before we was all born. The album is laced with, “ooohs” and “woahs”, and even one song is called, ‘oOoO’. ‘Cruising FDR’ is another pop gem, and the title alone takes you back to a time when cruising was a widely accepted form of Friday night entertainment, and once again recalling a time before the band was even born.
Oberhofer’s debut wouldn’t be out of place at a dance in the 50’s and 60’s. ‘Time Capsules II’ recalls the pop sensibilities of old with a little bit more guitar crunch and technological goodies. In fact, if The Monkees had made music in the 1980’s, it might sound a little like Oberhofer, with all the shimmering and jangling guitar work. Wouldn’t we all love to hear that? Too often we let ourselves get caught up in complexities, searching for things in music that are ground breaking, instead of just letting music do what it should, and that’s occasionally letting us feel a little joy.
It’s okay Animal Collective fans, no one is watching, put this album on and jump around a little. It’s fun.