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Boroughs’ Release Party At Non Plus Ultra, Friday December 4th 2015

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On Friday night, Boroughs, a young LA band blending alt-country rock, Americana and indie music had a big Christmas-release party hosted by The International Adventure Club, in an intimate place where I had never been before… not a club, not a house, I don’t know what this place was exactly but I got to see four bands and almost won a ‘bad’ Christmas present, yes there was a bad Santa raffle.

The Holiday party started with a duo, October’s Child, whose autumnal moniker was perfectly matching the melancholia of their songs. On their page, they say they are inspired by Saudade, the Portuguese blues, while their slowly sprawling songs were simply and beautifully highlighting Britt Warner’s haunting and hushed vocals. With synth, loops of acoustic guitars and even a violin, they set up meditative and quiet soundscapes, which would bring their part of angst and sorrow. It may have been an unusual way to start a Christmas party but the solemn presence of their music, like a Celtic melancholic ballad, was something to witness.

Natalie Nicoles, who also sang with Boroughs later on, had a very beautiful and strong organ coming from such a small-stature woman,… she probably gets this a lot, but her soothing voice sounded familiar, going deep and smoky like Cat Power’s, then very high like a soprano, and she surely impressed everyone. Surrounded by a full band, she started with a banjo-driven song, a heartfelt country vibe and three-part vocal harmonies, then continued with more melancholic tunes with an electronic touch and a profound bass. They didn’t play a lot of songs, however they appropriately closed with a really sad and peaceful Christmas tune. Natalie is part of this neo-folk genre and has collaborated with several interesting artists (Robert DeLong) while being involved with numerous bands (Branches, The Wild Reeds, Boroughs), and she is certainly someone to follow.

Andrew and Matt were quite an original bunch, as they arrived on stage with Charlie Brown’s music – one of them was even wearing the yellow-black iconic shirt, and did he really shave his head to look more Charlie Brown-esque? They were alternating synth-guitar-driven songs with spoken words on music, becoming part musicians, part story tellers, but even when they were telling stories, the accompanying music had rhythms as if you were listening to one of these Joe Frank podcasts on NPR. Their songs were built around keys/synth, bright vocals and pop hooks and, somehow, this odd assemblage of music and spoken words was working.

Boroughs was releasing their new self-titled EP, and they played it in its entirety and more. The young California band seems to blend many genres from folk, rock to alt-country, and if their official bio says that their brand of Americana is ‘reminiscent of the likes of early Neil Young and Wilco’, I got a few Bright Eyes vibes and frontman Kyle Neale’s voice had a bit of that Sufjan Steven’s peaceful feel during the quieter moments. The songs alternated between peaceful bliss and energetic rock songs à la Ryan Adams with giant poppy hooks, and they gave us a lot of girl-boy harmonies thanks to Natalie Nicoles who was back on stage with them. There were fragile moments when voices were blending and the music was at its minimum over a heartfelt lap steel guitar for the subtle country atmospheric touch, but most of the time, they had a big and exploding sound.

‘This is a song about getting way too high and try to wander in Echo Park,’ announced Neale before a song. They had the reckless enthusiasm of youth, singing songs with vivid titles such as ‘Alive’, ‘Keep It Up’ and ‘Summer Song’, as vocalist/guitarist Kyle Neale was surrounded by guitarist JD Carrera, bassist Derrick Wong and drummer Tyler Johnson. Remarkably, after just a few months playing in the Los Angeles area, Boroughs has already caught the attention of engineer/producer John Spiker (Tenacious D.) who recorded their self-titled debut EP.  They brought back every member of the other bands on stage for the big finale with their song ‘Enough’, and at this moment, their anthem-maker ability was more than certain.

Many pictures of the show here.

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