Estrangers

Photo by Jon Pfundstein

Photo by Jon Pfundstein

ESTRANGERS make the kind of classic pop that hides in plain sight, the kind that lingers in the blown-out speakers of vintage thrift store amplifiers and makes you wonder why you stopped listening. Towering melodies, cavernous guitar reverb, lush analog synths and crashing bass & drums are bound together in their bright-eyed Rock and Roll stylings.

A labor of love nurtured by singer/guitarist Philip Pledger after a bit of a rough patch, Estrangers emerged from the ashtrays and smokestacks of the old industrial city of Winston-Salem in the summer of 2011, cutting through the haze of an oft- apathetic town with a surprising, honest vibrance and potent energy. Within the first six months of their existence they had recorded and released Black Ballroom, an 8-song debut EP rich with promise, and shared stages with heralded groups like Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Titus Andronicus.

Yet in the months that followed, the group found themselves drifting. With the departure of two original members and a lack of clear musical direction, the future of Estrangers grew uncertain. At times, the band's newer material showed an infatuation with raucous and raw Californian garage rock, while at others they found themselves swimming in cascading keyboard sounds and airy guitar riffs.

The synthesis of those elements bore Sunmelt EP, a summery lo-fi experiment in playful songwriting, uninhibited by the expectations and pressures of a pristine studio recording environment. Its warm vibe carried resemblance to a forgotten cassette, left on the dashboard of a car to be warped by the sun, caramelized in psychedelic color and warble. While rough around the edges, the EP held two enduring gifts in its title track and "Scatterheart," songs that would be re-recorded for the band's first true full-length. As they finished out the remainder of 2012's regional show schedule, Pledger's collection of new demos quietly grew, and the foundations for Estrangers' new album were laid.

It would be hard to imagine Season of 1000 Colors coming to fruition any other way. For four wintery days in January 2013, the band hid away in the modest Sunnyside neighborhood of southside Winston-Salem and committed their album to 24- track analog tape, with local-via-Detroit legend Ryan Pritts (Paik) manning the console.

At first listen, Season of 1000 Colors is the logical successor of Sunmelt: an album bursting at the seams with brilliant psych- pop hues, delivered with focus and captured with shimmering highs and throbbing lows. "Cape Fear" accosts the listener early with bombastic and romantic exuberance, part cinematic dreamscape and part Italian beach excursion. The coastal imagery the song paints isn't wasted on the record as a whole; the album ebbs and flows like a wash of sea-salted melodrama. Sun-bleached joyride "Dayzd" bleeds through "Moonraker"s villainous groove into the pounding, surf-inflected "Monarchs," before finding a soft landing on the haunting specter of "Hold Me Close (L'Inverno)." Late-album party-starter "Love's Pure Light" finds Estrangers conjuring darker elements, before "Mrs. Bee"s pensive introduction and antiphonal conclusion help wrap-up the album like Ram-era McCartney

Ultimately, Season of 1000 Colors is the byproduct of tireless and uncompromising pop songwriting. It's an album in the truest sense, bearing a dazzling array of inpidual gems but delivering rewarding emotional poignancy upon listening as a whole. With a string of exciting shows slated for the summer, including a coveted slot at Raleigh's Hopscotch Music Festival in September, Estrangers stand poised to take their place as one of the imminent indie pop groups the east coast has to offer. 

Photo by Matt Groce

Photo by Matt Groce

Photo by Alyssa Dehayes

Photo by Alyssa Dehayes

Press

“Analog synths and washed-out guitars swirl their way through Season of 1000 Colors, the band’s newest release. There’s more reverb on the album than My Morning Jacket’s early work, but Estrangers anchor all of the tunes with the sort of bold hooks that used to land bands a spot on the Ed Sullivan Show… Looking for your new summertime album? Here it is.” - American Songwriter

“On the strength of their latest LP, Season of 1000 Colors, the Winston-Salem quintet Estrangers have moved to the front of the line for North Carolina’s next breakout act. Estrangers’ growth arc has been steep and impressive… Now, with these dozen pop nuggets from Season, Estrangers doesn’t so much break the mold as refine it into something with better focus and reach. It’s a half-hour joyride through summer pop riffs, all propelled by pounding 4/4 beats. The grander hooks glow with rich, warm textures, the gift of recording to 2-inch tape… With Estrangers' latest leap forward, it’s as though adding the ’60s and ’80s together brought us into the vivid present.” - Hopscotch Music Festival

“Winston-Salem-based Estrangers’ last sonic trek, the humble Sunmelt EP, was decidedly rougher around the edges than its 2011 album, Black Ballroom. The five-piece outfit seems to have been yearning for the opposite approach on its sophomore full-length Season of 1000 Colors. The degraded acoustics of its previous effort are traded for a sterilized sheen, making the earnestness of pieces like bolting pop tune "Monarchs" almost disarming. But there's no need for alarm: the surf-tinged track is full of space, letting the band's instrumentation hang in the open air while waves of warm guitars knock up against equally maxed-out keyboards as vocalist Philip Pledger see-saws his way through the tune.” -AdHoc

Estrangers = Beach House on uppers + Boards of Canada. By every merit, this is a conventional summer-nostalgia pop rock album. If you've been holding out for more aimless summer driving music since Real Estate's Days two years ago, this is your next pony. With every track awash in warm psychedelic framework and calliope synth underlays, Season of 1000 Colors seeks to brighten up sundrenched introverts originally ailed by sugary depression, caused by Teen Dreams, with songs like "Cape Fear." Estrangers' lead vocalist, Philip Pledger, sounds like a plainclothes Jeff Buckley, with his bright-eyed warbles on most of the album... Although the band may not liven up your summer to the exciting expectations of a beer commercial, Estrangers are still definitely very supplemental to anyone's summer mix list. And for once (bonus points), they don't live anywhere near the Pacific Coast.” - Slug Mag

Winston-Salem sextet singer Philip Pledger of Estrangers bares the warm characteristic tone of Fleet Foxes singer Robin Pecknold. Pledger takes on the backing whimsical, shambling instrumentation with folk-like command. His verses arc and bow with the rising tide of guitars, organs, percussion and odd peculiarities, the staple of recording with analog equipment... The result is warm, fuzzy and frenzied chamber pop, which at times echoes the instrumentation found on a Belle and Sebastian album, if they were to dabble in lo-fi psychedelia… The combination of piano and guitars, progressive rhythms and strong, melody-heavy songwriting is a sad-day antidote. The songwriting remains unified throughout, which underscores the band’s characteristic, slightly experimental core.  Season is a strong addition to the library any lo-fi fanatic waiting for a new Elephant Six era.” - Performer Mag

Photo by Jon Pfundstein

Photo by Jon Pfundstein

Contact

 

Booking / Publishing:
estrangersnc@gmail.com