Bern & The Brights: Swing Shift Maisies EP

Bern & The Brights: Swing Shift Maisies EP
Reviewing things can become tiresome and mundane. You never know what you’re going to get when you unwrap an album. Sometimes you discover something new that was well worth your time. Other times, you can’t really get into what you’re listening to. Still, there’s no excuse for letting the albums just pile up on you.
Last July Bern & The Brights released a four song EP titled Swing Shift Maisies. Upon putting the album into my laptop, I couldn’t help but notice that the genre was classified as Avante-Garde. I have no idea what that means, and decided to let the music speak for itself rather than look it up.
Lead singer Bernadette Malavarca strikes you right from the get-go. Her voice is powerful and has a bit of that Macy Gray tinge to it. It’s not as unique as Macy’s, whose voice you can pick out of a lineup easily. But she has a bit of that commanding, warm tone that Macy uses. And you could certainly pick Malavarca out of a lineup of your usual female vocalists.
Counter to Malavarca you have Catherine McGowen. She usually sings harmony to Malavarca, but on the track “Sleepless Aristotle” she takes the lead. If Bernadette is Macy Gray, I liken McGowan to Siouxsie Sioux. Or maybe a better comparison would be Poe. So when the two harmonize, neither overpowers the other. And both can be enjoyed for their distinct sounds.
Musically the group is a bit of a mixup. They’re folksie, they’re poppy, perhaps they are even a little bit country. “Boo” opens up with a violin and some soft guitars. It resembles R.E.M. a bit in its rock aspect. But the folksie sound makes me think of Reed KD. So mix those two acts up, throw in a female vocalist, and you’ve got Bern & The Brights.
Then again, the violin gives the band a more alt-rock feel. Take the track “Sangria Peaches”. Musically it reminds me of something you’d hear Dave Matthews perform with the full band.
All in all, the songs get you moving, whether it be a head bob, or a toe tap. I highly recommend Swing Shift Maisies and ask that you keep a lookout of Bern & The Brights. My sincerest apologies to the band for coming around to the EP so late. This was one of those albums that was well worth the listen.
Rating: 9.8/10
MP3: Bern & The Brights “Boo”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon

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