Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Lumineers - Carriers of Light, Stompers of Feet

the Denver-based trio is hand-clapping & foot-stomping
their way into hearts
Even though Cleveland can't seem to make up its mind, I truly believe summer is on its way. Sunshine can only be denied for so long before eventually winning the war against the oppressive unicloud.

With that in mind, I have a great summertime band for you this week. This band has literally kept me up at night with its goodness. I was laying in bed, already several hours past my bedtime, perusing the NPR music app (a must-have for any iPhone/smartphone user) trying to figure out what music I wanted for my dreamscapes when I came across a performance of The Lumineers at KEXP. The subtitle reads "Heartfelt Energy and Musical Grace." It seemed sincere enough, I had to check it out. Plus the photo is the band standing goofily between library stacks. I was hooked from the first note out of them. They're a little bit folk, a little bit rock, a little bit bluegrass, a whole lot of heart. If you know Mumford & Sons or The Head & The Heart, this band is what would result if the two had a child. The Lumineers feature prominent vocals, but driving drums with piano and guitar filling in the fairly sparse arrangements plus a healthy dose of cello & mandolin. The tunes are catchy and the lyrics are poetic and compelling.

The Lumineers' story is one of "stubborn hopefulness" as two of the members, leader Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, moved from New York/New Jersey to Denver, CO with a car full of instruments and hearts full of sorrow after losing a friend & brother to a drug overdose. Like any good story, hardship has bred victory and strength. Once in Denver, the boys put out a call for a cellist and the duo became a trio with the addition of classically-trained local Neyla Pekarek. Together the three create music characterized by vulnerability, heartfelt emotion and a commitment to honest optimism, which is pretty refreshing in a world filled with conflict and ever-lessening faith in humanity.

With lyrics like "you told me I was like the dead sea/you'll never sink when you are with me," they're more than just a foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time, too ... even if their intonation/pitch & balance leave a little to be desired.

If these kids continue in the trajectory they've currently set for themselves, we're talking second-star-to-the-right-and-straight-on-till-morning for them. And it seems that they're willing to take you with them. You want this album. Trust me.