Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a website called Miss Moss. Its subhead calls the blog a “compendium of radness,” and indeed it is. While I’m not very into the sections on art and fashion, the blog’s founder, Diana, is a bit of a playlist-ologist. I’ve spent hours browsing through her music musings from the past year. These posts are almost entirely playlists, but once in a while there’s a band featured – and I’m so thankful I came across Beatenberg.
Miss Moss describes Beatenberg as a “paul simonesque/vampire weekendy/john mayerish (minus the douchebaginess) sorta sound.” It’s hard to come up with a better description, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to try. After streaming the entirety of Beatenberg’s debut album, Farm Photos, on Soundcloud, I’m blown away by the band’s ear for melody and its special ability to balance carefree indie-pop joy with a deeper, more reflective emotional layer. Album opener “Recent Developments” epitomizes this perfectly, with a funky, grooving, guitar-and-percussion melody driving the song but heartfelt, contemplative lyrics and vocals from lead singer Matthew Field. Track two “Die For You” takes the rickety drums and shuffling guitars of Paul Simon’s afro-pop and breathes new life into the format with a fun, heart-on-its-sleeve song for a loved one. Standout In B Flat (MP3) again feels like a fresh take on Graceland-inspired indie rock, which is hard to come by these days (with Vampire Weekend on such a long hiatus).
The afro-pop influence shouldn’t be a surprise – Beatenberg is based in Cape Town, South Africa, which could explain its total lack of presence in the American music world. But that shouldn’t last much longer. New single Echoes (MP3) uses heavy synthesizers and a hip-hop beat reminiscent of Discovery’s LP – a perfect blend of modern musical stylings with the afro-pop influences that make Beatenberg great. With a publicity push of any kind, these guys will make the music blog rounds here in the states – the music is too good for them not to.