When I bumped into Umbrellas by chance while researching jangle/twee pop and the like to record an edition of the radio version of PCP, I sort of ‘turned my back’ on them and went straight to Chime School and that’s from Slumberland, but then a few days ago while reading about some other band that I don’t remember, here comes that absurdly simple and ridiculous name again (sorry guys, but Os Guarda-chuvas is to fuck even the young guard). So I thought to myself: ‘better give them a chance and see which one’. And here we are, you there and I’m completely in love with my new favorite band of this week’s life (laughs).
Umbrellasthe first and eponymous album by the Californian quartet formed by Matt Ferrara, Keith Frerichs, Nick Oka, and Morgan Stanley in 2019 came out via Slumberland two years after the group’s birth and is, in short, a wonderful musical compendium of equally wonderful influences, the kind of album you listen to once, twice, three times straight because it will remind you of a lot of other records you love MIXED (hahaha) into 12 short, simple and perfect songs.
Seriously, there are echoes of underground paisley and C86 here, jangle and twee pop, droning vocals Calvin Johnson sharing microphones with sweet female vocals Pastels (e Belle and Sebastian and so many others), 12-string guitars that take you straight to the fathers of this whole thing (the Byrds, of course), plus the ‘I’m a Postcard’ to Orange Juice and a melancholy that has more to do with a rainy day in Scotland than the sunny sea air of the Californian Bay Area.
And the best and most interesting thing about it all is that even with so many past references in its debut, Umbrellas doesn’t sound like a pastiche of any of them. Doubt? Turn up the volume, press play and then tell me.
PS: last year the band released a single that points in a noisier direction. Let’s be aware that there is certainly more good stuff to come.