the breakups (intentionally lower-cased) will cause inadvertent tapping of the hands and feet! The responsible parties are: Jake Gideon – guitar/vocals, Phil Shrut – drums, James Williams – keyboards, Nik Ahlstam – guitar and Tim Lee – bass/vocals.
As the indie pop scene is now accepted as an essential movement in independent music, there may be other bands out there who sound similar to the breakups, however there are fewer bands out there who can make a tune and turn it into something you want to dance happily around to the way they do. Just ask my floor boards; if they could talk they’d say “she spent more time dancing then she did writing.” Sorry it may be true as each song has been listened to at least 10 times already and this is a 400-600 word review. Their melodic pop style stories are not unnecessarily over-dramatic, but rather attentive, comprehensive and familiar. This may be why their album is so easy to listen to over and over again and while it is easy to listen to you can bet this was a true labor of love for the breakups.
“Of all the gin joints in all the world” isn’t just a Humphrey Bogart quote. You were just fed a line from “I’m thinking of a Number Between 1 and 99.” This song is full of hooks, it is so easy to learn and to sing along with that it will only take two listens and you’ve already mastered the words and harmonies.
Their song “Better Off Alone” is a 90’s electronic pop combined with a 60’s surf melody, which consequently results in a recognizable and typical pattern where the most possible outcome will likely result in a sing-a-long. (This is especially recommended if you’re amongst friends whilst listening.)
After listening to this LP a few times, it’s safe to say that this band is the real deal, it’s a gut thing. Their music is full of humanity, but beyond that there are rhythmic chords with fun melodies chiming in and out, strung together in an unsullied way so that they never really exit your head. “Here’s looking at you kid.” Your lyrics are fun, catchy and we had a good time.
With my 4 out of 5 star rating I’m wishing the breakups a happily ever after!
Here is an interview with Jake Gideon, James Williams, and Nik Ahlstam of the breakups.
IMR: Who would you say are your greatest musical influences?
Jake Gideon: The most consistent influences on our songwriting and production have probably been Michael Penn, Pernice Brothers, Fountains of Wayne, The Shins, and Wilco. I’m pretty sure none of those bands are cool to list as influences since they are all middle aged, but the good thing about music is that people can be great at it until they die. Often they are not, but they CAN be. Clearly, The Beatles have been an influence on every pop band since the 60s, but I guess I have to mention them anyway.
I love bands like Arcade Fire and Spoon and Guster, but I’m not sure how much they’ve influenced our sound. Recently Big Star has been creeping in more and more. Most of those guys are dead though, which I suppose would be one step beyond old.
James Williams: Early Wilco, because you’re not an obsessive music fan unless you have at least one band you can add the prefix ‘early’ to. Belle and Sebastian, Mates of State, Neutral Milk Hotel. Jesus Christ Superstar. Indie rock circa whichever ex-girlfriend I’m currently pining over.
Jake Gideon: I’ll add early Weezer then to make sure I get some obsessive music fan credentials in there. Pinkerton is one of the greatest things ever made by human beings… have I mentioned that I’m prone to wild overstatements?
Nik Ahlstam: 2 Live Crew, NWA, 69 Boyz, C&C Music Factory.
Jake Gideon: “Gonna make you sweat ’til you bleed… Is that dope enough? Indeed.” You can’t argue with poetry.
IMR: What is the creative process like for you as you write music? Is this a group effort? How so?
JW: We write music?
JG: So far I have done the bulk of the writing. We do arrange the songs as a band sometimes and even if I do some arranging when I record the initial demo, oftentimes some of that will change once the whole band is working out the song at practice. Writing songs as a full band seems like the most impossible thing in the world to me. I don’t know how other bands do that and end up with anything good. It just seems like you would always end up with really long songs that go nowhere. In other words… jamming, which is one of those things that sounds like fun until you do it and then you quickly realize it’s a massive waste of time.
NA: We post all our ideas on a wall and throw darts at them, blind-folded, then go from there.
JG: Actually I think that’s pretty close to how David Bowie writes lyrics.
IMR: Imagine you were at a concert and one of the band members on stage spontaneously combusted, You are asked to replace that member, who is this band?
JG: That is a tough question. I think I would have loved to have been in Blondie when they were at their peak. The idea of backing up a front woman like Debbie Harry is very appealing to me. She’s this larger than life sex symbol and everybody is watching her as she seduces them. She’s pretty much one of the coolest people ever, so all the pressure would be off and I could just have fun playing music. Also, that scene they were part of in the late 70s/early 80s was so vibrant and electric. Rock’n'roll was still just rock’n'roll and I bet you could touch it, feel it, smell it, eat it, and I know you could hear it.
JW: Pretty sure you should not eat rock and roll. It’s very gamey. For me? The World Record.
JG: I’ve eaten rock’n'roll. It’s more tender than you’d expect.
IMR: Who got you started? What was your first instrument?
JG: I started on guitar and it’s still the only instrument I really feel entirely comfortable on. I can fake my way through a keyboard part and I can play bass like a guitar player, but I actually NEED to play guitar. When I travel and don’t have a guitar I start to go a little nuts. The first thing I taught myself to play was the melody to the outro of “Layla.” I played it all on one string because I didn’t understand how the strings corresponded with each other. That outro is still one of my favorite pieces of music. I could listen to it over and over.
JW: It’s a great song to whack your entire gang to after you heist Lufthansa.
JG: I’m pretty sure people will have to look that one up on YouTube.
IMR: Did you have formal music training before you got started?
JG: Only if you call middle school concert band formal training. I was never good at reading music. I used to just memorize the parts so I wouldn’t have to try and read them while I was playing. Music training can be a blessing or a curse. There are things that you play when you don’t know what you’re doing that you would never think to play if you knew a lot about theory. But if you know absolutely nothing at all about music it’s not long before you’re just shooting in the dark and then looking around to see if people are smiling or looking at you like you’re insane. I’m pretty comfortable with my musical knowledge right now. But every once in a while I’ll stumble on a new chord or change, which opens up a whole new set of ideas and that’s always exciting.
JW: Yeah, knowledge is pretty dangerous. I can see where there’s a middle area of knowledge where you know enough to create problems but not enough to resolve them. Hopefully afterwards you progress to a point where musical knowledge is liberating because it’s a language and it’s liberating in the way that words are liberating. Which is to say, I played alto saxophone in high school marching band; I was section leader, natch.
IMR: What do you have coming up? Do you have any other projects that you want your fans to know about?
JG: We are all about pushing this record right now. It took us a really long time to finish it and it means a lot to us. We’re very proud of it and it is important to us that people hear it. I’m not really of the school of thought that you just make art for yourself. That’s part of it, obviously, but music is meant to be heard. It doesn’t take away from the depth or integrity of our music that I want people to hear it and love it. Screw that. These are pop songs. They are meant to be popular. Hence the name.
The idea of pop music is a cloudy one. If you can use the same term to describe what we do and what Lady Gaga does then something weird is going on.
JG: But I do consider the breakups to be a pop band. I guess you just throw the word “indie” in front of pop and call it a day. In the end it really doesn’t matter what you call music. It only matters until you listen to it. Once somebody hears it it just is whatever it is to that particular listener.
JW: We’re techno.
JG: Technically pop.
NA: The Black Pharaohs. That is my garage rock revival band. By the way I’m moving to Brooklyn to start it.
JG: Yeah, I hear they actually infuse the water in Brooklyn with indie-cred. People think it’s only the pizza that’s better because of the water. Nope. It’s the hipsters too. The more you drink the skinnier your jeans get.
IMR: Last but not least of course, we all want to know what would you be doing if you were not doing… THIS?
JG: Hopefully succeeding at other things that are also practically impossible to succeed at like writing, professional bowling, or somehow attempting to keep the world from descending rapidly into the nightmarish hellscape we are clearly heading toward. You know… something easy like that.
NA: Dolphin trainer in training.
JG: Thanks Kayt. And thanks to Indie Music Reviewer. We love any opportunity to talk about ourselves on the internet. Thanks guys.
Album name: running jumping falling shouting
Album Released: February, 2012
Genres: indie pop, power pop
Location: Los Angeles, California
Band members: Jake Gideon, Phil Shrut, James Williams, Nik Ahlstam, Tim Lee
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