Jon Sortland and Brian Belier accidentally became a band while singing Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ at a Karaoke bar in San Francisco’s Japantown. When they woke up from their whiskey hangovers they realised it hadn’t been a dream, the people in the bar (all five of them) had cheered for them, and they had stumbled on their calling.
Realising between them they played electric guitar (Brian) and drums (Jon), they set out on their quest, not to become just another group of dudes playing rock songs, but instead to forge new song structures and rhythms, a different approach to making dance-able music, that fed into their love for the likes of Fela Kuti (Brian) and The Police (Jon). Adding to the mix bassist Jonathan Hischke, whose favourite group was Bow Wow Wow, and they found the perfect ensemble.
‘Overpour’, out today on Dowd Records, takes the listener back to the GOOD sounds of the late 70s, early 80s, and adds a contemporary edge. With dual lead vocals from Brian and Jon, it’s all the best of The Police, rolled together with 10cc, ELO, and more contemporary artists such as Peppermint Heaven.
Thinking of an appropriate term to describe their sound, I came up with puzzle-rock (feel free to use it). It’s kinetic, yet free flowing; hypnotic and compelling, yet there are jagged parts which in any other situation might jar. The vocals courageously harmonise, with a paper-thin distance separating the dual vocals. All this is amply complemented by a throbbing bassline John Taylor himself would be proud of, while the drums and lead guitar make sure it’s all in cohesion.
There’s a really pleasing section at the 28-29 second mark, where it almost sounds like carnival music – and I’ve listened to that over a few times: the song could easily do without it, but it’s fun and adds a naughty, playful, mischievous element to the song. Very cool!