New York is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the world; just in its immediate vicinity you can find virtually every style and genre of music being practiced, performed and recorded, from the furious of hip-hop to the most gentle of folk music. This melting pot gives us not only what is arguably the most eclectic music scene in the western hemisphere, but also one of the most competitive. With so many acts looking to find their audience and break out onto the big stage, it can be awfully difficult for young artists to reach their launch point, let alone find some success on the indie charts early on in their careers. Nevertheless, the most talented and charismatic of the bunch always have a way of rising to the surface above the rest, which can very much be described as the situation for New Yorkers The Chordaes, whose new single “California” is attracting the attention and adulation of critics and listeners from coast to coast this summer.
Part of what makes a song like “California” so infectious and appealing to a diverse range of listeners is the fact that its delicate design and polished presentation allow it to fit in beside any of its modern pop/rock contemporaries like it’s a part of the club, yet evocative and stylish enough to set itself aside from the masses as a truly memorable song. As much as some critics like to claim that it’s all about being completely different than what everyone else in your class is doing, maintaining a consistent sense of relevance in relation to what’s popular right now is still the biggest factor in making a new artist accessible. The Chordaes are onto a formula that seems to satisfy both sides nicely.
Another alluring quality to “California” is it’s elegant production value. Producer Marc Swersky knocked it out of the park. Every facet of this song which was penned by frontman Leo Sawikin can be heard via an intimate, crystal clear audio that doesn’t bury the vocals in postproduction revisions and lets each instrument speak for itself rather than blending the band together into an indiscernible wall of noise. This excellent handiwork allows for us to really appreciate all of the shimmering accents and bright, natural reverberation in “California,” something I fear wouldn’t have been possible with someone else behind the controls.
The Chordaes have a certain psychedelic bend to their style of pop music that falls in tandem with the overwhelming trend of surrealism influenced rock that we’ve been seeing towards the end of the 2010’s, but their approach is slightly different than what I’ve heard others doing in one key area. Rather than pushing the boundaries of their sound as far as they can go, The Chordaes seem reserved and content with employing minimalist techniques to create the mind-bending harmonies that make songs like “California” so fun and original. I’d like to see what else they produce under the direction of this approach; if their style continues to evolve, terms like “alternative rock,” “dream pop,” and “neo-psychedelia” might be a little too limiting to describe what they’re yielding in the studio. The Chordaes are currently playing shows and recording a forthcoming EP.