By: Nora E. Lindner
Never fear, Brooklyn. The indie music scene is bringing in reinforcements and they go by the name of Brit & the Cavalry.
Last summer, Brit & the Cavalry put out their first EP Chapter One to critical acclaim. Recently, the Cavalry did it again, releasing its second EP Hiker. Fan-funded through Kickstarter, Hiker is a gallant effort, a follow-up that exceeds its predecessor by delivering more of the band’s matchless sound.
The Cavalry threw out the rule book years ago. Instead it blends the standard rock setup — guitar, bass, drums — with a veritable monkey-wrench of lilting strings and horns. What’s more, it works, seamless as it is unique and somehow satisfying to listen to. Maybe it’s because, despite how the combination looks on paper, there is nothing forced or jarring about it. Distinct but well-executed, it fits the alternative rock definition and listening satisfies both folk and rock cravings.
The head of the troop, Brit Boras has a swooning vocal range that emotes with the best of them. She is alternately tender and empowered, melodious and strong willed, all without missing a note, more of an instrument herself than anything else. Violinist Amanda Lo is also of note, her strings standing at the forefront of every song and often claiming the spotlight over lyrics, or rather, getting the point across without the need for lyrics at all.
Even with only four songs, the Hiker EP does not repeat itself. “The Great Forest Divide” is an excellent example of the band’s accomplished horn section. “Breathing Under Water” has the opening bars of a gentle, romantic sea shanty followed by the slicing lyrics of a ghost. The title track “Hiker” is an instant favorite. Putting that mysterious combination of violin and heavy rock guitar chords to its greatest extent, it’s a multi-depth encounter that, after only one listen, won’t be easy to forget. The combination is smoldering. The Cavalry signs off this EP with “The Sun,” where plucked strings and smooth electric guitar make a sweet send off. If the song “Hiker” shows the band’s intensity, “The Sun” brings out its gentle side, proving just the many ways this group can deliver.
Short and sweet, “Hiker” does exactly what an EP should — give a taste of what this band can do and show us why we should be listening; makes us anticipate a full-length album. Although technically a follow up to Chapter One, the first was mostly a solo endeavor by Boras. This time there’s a full brigade, made up of Brit Boras (guitar, vocals), Alex Beckmann (drums), Dan Krysa (bass), Kevin Birk (trombone), Jas Walton (sax), Aaron Rockers (trumpet) and Amanda Lo (violin).
Ready to call them in and make your own judgments? Tomorrow, Brit & the Cavalry will be celebrating Hiker with a release show at Pianos Friday at 8pm, $10 cover charge.