Thursday, November 28, 2013

Daytona Debuts With A Self-Titled LP

Daytona is a Brooklyn band that happened largely by accident. All three members knew each other when they played around in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But they never formed a band together.

Even when they relocated to New York City, it took a little time before they clicked. Hunter Simpson (guitar and vocals) was still hooked up with Wild Yaks. Jose Boyer (bass and vocals) spent some time with Harlem. Christopher Lauderdale (drums and vocals) had other gigs too.

No, it didn't stop them from putting out an EP last year. Yes, it did slow them down in promoting the real potential of this power pop-rock trio. Expect some of that to change soon as long as Brooklyn's own independent label, Ernest Jenning Record Co., keeps moving them in the right direction.

Daytona puts out a self-titled debut worth a listen.

The self-titled release pushes past the band's unfortunate name and into a space where many bands collapse. On the first pass, they have a few catchy songs that bounce back and forth between alternative jubilance and artistic sensitivity.

But if you run through the album, things start to sound different. Their sound readily borrows sprawling indie pop harmonies and then plants them on a foundation of folk-tinged strings and Caribbean-influenced rhythms. Most of it proves to be a huge improvement over last year.

The Road, for example, is a solid enough opener in that it establishes the band's sound, layered composition, and shared vocals. There is some cohesion to the arrangement that didn't really exist on Storm So Long last year. It's about a 40-day cycling trip and how sometimes it is best to stay put.

The band has clearly covered significant ground. Air Picker (Lost In The Trees) and Matt Boynton (MGMT) deserve some props here too. Picker recorded the album in North Carolina and Boynton mixed it in Brooklyn. For this band, it makes a difference.

New Foundation changes up the pace while retaining precisely what Daytona has been trying to master. They want dynamic shifts in the sound that spills from buoyant to dreamy, often accomplishing the transition by bringing in one of two or three competing but harmonious layers of pop noise. If you sense a lot can go wrong with this approach, you're probably right.

When the band nails it on tracks like Lighthouse, it's easy to get an immediate sense of their musical vision. But then there are times when it doesn't work as much. Honey is one of those. While there is plenty to like about the carefree and casual vibe of the song, there are too many moments when it clashes with itself, distracting from an otherwise solid song.

Fortunately, there are enough tracks that Daytona reins in its complexity and delivers something interesting. The sure-footed sensibilities of Maria, the soaring drift of Raincoat, and the eclectic instrumental arrangements and poignant lyrics of Oregon all qualify.

It's refreshing to hear a band work so hard to make music engaging. They create an illusion that music can come together much like the band, accidental and off the cuff. The lyrics feel that way too at times. On the whole of the album, Daytona dishes out pleasant and painful with equal measure.

Daytona's Self-Titled Debut Lifts 4.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

All in all, Daytona feels like it needs more time to mature. But while it does, they have still managed to produce a handful of experimental pop tracks that are as addictive as they are listenable. Start with The Road, New Foundation and Lighthouse and then consider Maria, Raincoat, and Oregon.

You can find the self-titled debut Daytona on Amazon. The album was also released to Barnes & Noble and can be downloaded from iTunes. The band is currently lining up shows from Austin, Texas, to Durham, North Carolina. Follow them on Facebook for updates. Put them on your watch list because there is a tremendous amount of potential here as they perfect the music.
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