New York rock quintet Earthquake Lights‘ jazz background is apparent in every second of its latest album, Distress Signals, which was self-released on April 12. The record’s ten tracks are barely defined as alternative rock, featuring a neat blend of indie rock, R&B, jazz and even touches of classical music, but everything about it is rich and beautiful.
Though it is classified as indie rock, Distress Signals feels like anything but typical indie music: Earthquake Lights’ decision to incorporate strings and brass instruments into the instrumentation on this record makes the album feel luxurious. The opening track, “Moonlight,” is made to feel grand and romantic through the rolling swells of strings behind smooth vocals. This sense of richness continues throughout the record; “We Will Never Be the Same,” for example, is decadent and melt-in-your-mouth slow, featuring a jazzy piano in front of bursts of strings.
The classical instruments add flair, too. On “Moonlight,” strings are used to emphasize certain lyrics, like a sharp strike on the words, “When the thunder hits.” Later, a muted trumpet on “Friends of Mine” cuts through the fray of the other sounds and adds a light touch to the otherwise rich track.
But beyond simply the orchestral nature of Earthquake Lights’ rock music, there is a sense of authenticity about the record. Frontman Myles Rodenhouse’s vocals feel genuine and earnest, and there’s a vulnerability on tracks like “May Day” as he sings “I don’t get it/How’d I miss it?/Why’d I even try?”
The instrumentation also feels straightforward, and it seems as though there are few effects added to distort the nature of the music being performed–because, throughout the record, all ten tracks do feel like a performance. Each track is cinematic and theatrical in a new way, as evidenced by songs like “Open Ocean,” a short track with light vocals and beautiful building background music.
Earthquake Lights are no strangers to making music: the band has been around since 2011, releasing its first EP in 2012 and creating music together ever since. Distress Signals shows the maturity that results from this long-term work as the band plays with a clear mastery of the genre while still effortlessly blending in elements of jazz and classical music. Check out the record below: