It’s just past 11:00 on a Friday night and I'm one of the lone survivors in the Fishbowl. I’ve reached a point where there’s something deeply satisfying about outlasting the guy at the computer next to me. Or maybe it’s terribly sad that this is what brings me joy today. The low hum of the printers, the clatter of the keyboard and the occasional cough from across the room make for soothing background noise. I can’t help but think that someone infinitely more talented than myself would be able to make something beautiful from such simple sounds.
While I may not be able to take a series of snaps and claps and transform it into a chart-topper, my most recent obsession, Little Brutes, does just that. The LA-based pop duo works miracles with what sounds like a minimal amount of instruments. Members Rachael Cantu and Harlan Silverman met while touring with B.B. King and began collaborating in their dressing room before shows. Their debut EP Desire combines airy melodies with strategic vocals to produce a live band sound despite the computer screen and headphones that separates them from the listener.
Exploring themes of lost time, endless future and persistent progress, Little Brutes creates a feeling that mixes nostalgia and excitement. Producing songs with fixed beats that resemble ocean swells and steady rain patter, Desire can easily make the jump from Fishbowl to front porch (though perhaps not with this cold weather rolling in).
Opening with “Make Our Own Way,” Little Brutes tells a tale of self-acceptance and adventure with lyrics that claim, “All we need is a roof and a warm place.” Repetitive guitar riffs and harmonies that make your spine tingle dictate the track, constructing a sound that pushes you to seize the moment and live in the present. The background noise is filled with eccentric items, like salt and pepper shakers or the ring of a cowbell, which emphasizes Little Brutes’s unique sound and innovative structure.
The title track, “Desire,” speaks of broken relationships and picking up the pieces, comforting listeners with lyrics like “Someone said to me / You’re where you should be.” (Unrelated, but applicable: These lyrics are particularly consoling during the lovely time of midterms.) Claps, snaps and hands create the bulk of the noise in “Desire,” embodying an almost polyphonic tone. It’s a song reminiscent of dark, highway drives and the changing of the seasons.
All the songs are characterized as light electronica and are lyric-focused with a driving bass throughout, but “Wait for Me” takes electronic to the next level. Synthetic, slow and sensuous, “Wait for Me” speaks to the transitive nature of time, musing “If this world is not as it seems / Wait for me.” A mélange of instruments works together to fashion a single sound perfect for those late night contemplations.
Little Brutes could make music with whatever instruments, kitchen utensils or people they were given, which in my book makes them true artists. They may not be on the Top 100, nor should they aspire to be. If they keep making music that they love, they’ll attract listeners who love it too. (Salt and pepper shakers and all.)