Monday, February 11, 2013

Reoccurring Dreams Presents: "Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats" (13 Big Ones)

My buddy Adam Lempel hit me up on Facebook last week, asking if I'd be down to write up a Witzard review on his new band, Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats' upcoming Reoccurring Dreams/Friends Records debut. The answer was obviously, "FUCK YEAH!" I met Adam and his fellow bandmate, Brendan Sullivan (WEEKENDS) backstage in the make-shift green room [church pews] @ a Surfer Blood show in South Philly (2011). Needless to say, following a few texts and emails, I had an advance copy of "Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats" safely nestled in my Inbox. After a few listens, I gotta admit, it's a pretty far departure from WEEKENDS' feedback-drenched brand of improvised Noise-Rock, but The Heartbeats managed to compile an almost INSTANTLY catchy Folk/Pop Rock record!.. mildly reminiscent of The Beatles, Beach Boys, Fiona Apple, Weezer, Simon & Garfunkel, Pixies. "It was recorded by Chris Freeland who also recorded Wye Oak and Lower Dens," Lempel explained in an email. "I have a bunch of friends helping out: Amanda Glasser (Silent Whys) singing on a couple songs, Tiffany Black and Kate Barutha (Softcat) singing back-up, and Kate is even playing cello on a couple songs." While Adam Lempel single-handedly recorded all the guitar/drum tracks, he's recruited Matt Lampart and Russell Imwold to play drums as part of The Heartbeats' 6-piece live band.

Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats' record is gonna be released on CD-R/digital [mp3] on Lempel's home-grown Baltimore-based imprint, Reoccurring Dreams this upcoming Valentine's Day and probably on cassette through Friends Records around March 8th. He's been slowly but surely leaking the album's 13 tracks to Soundcloud over the past few weeks and I've decided to showcase a few of my personal favourites, for the purposes of this review. "You Belong with Me" was also the lead-off track on The Heartbeats' similarly titled Bandcamp EP, which was unleashed @ the top of January 2012. It kinda reminds me of that cheese-tastic Beach Boys/Doo-Wop girl group, complete with layered harmonies, Pop-laden guitar licks, and a re-telling of long lost Summertime love.

Adam Lempel himself simply described "Echo" as the first track written for a since abandoned split cassette with Sara Autrey (Which Magic); A rough idea, initially proposed to house mirrored songs on the same topics, delivered from both female and male perspective(s). "Echo" is a beautiful song that features Amanda Glasser and Adam Lempel, who doesn't even come in til nearly the second 1/2, trading off breathy verses. I eventually ended up picking "B-Train" as my third track selection because it sticks out in my mind, dude in part to that simple repetitive guitar riff... there's actually 2 guitar licks back-to-back, I think (one right after "I can't wait til the B-Train comes," too). If you listen closely, there's a lot going on here: beachy vibes, dueling guitars, crashing cymbals, 2-part harmonies, distorted hand claps, etc. WEEKENDS, one of Adam Lempel's other bands are planning to release their third album [New Humans] later this year, but until then, definitely check out The Heartbeats. It's a great sun-soaked listen you won't regret, trust me!

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