Bands to Watch #188: Bern and the Brights

By on Monday, 16th August 2010 at 12:00 pm

As of late, New Jersey has produced some pretty awesome bands – Titus Andronicus and the Gaslight Anthem to name just two. But those are fronted by blokes. Let’s turn to something different, to Bern and the Brights, a Northern New Jersey folk pop five-piece. ‘Bern’ is Bernadette Malavarca, principal lyricist and lead vocalist, who according to legend came up with the phrase ‘Bern and the Brights’ in a hazy night and decided to form a band.

The result: a folk pop band featuring violin. Sometimes when you hear ‘unusual’ instruments in a rock band’s song, it tends to be a one-off appearance, like a horn added for extra effect. The first time I heard one of their tracks, I didn’t dwell on the fact that there was a violin playing along in this pop band. That’s because Nicole Scorsone’s violin sounds just right at home with the Bern and the Brights’ aesthetic. They’ve been described as a ‘female-fronted R.E.M.’, a description that I guess isn’t a great leap if you reflect on R.E.M. in Peter Buck’s mandolin-wielding days. Comparisons can be dangerous, but I’m going to make one of my own now. The sound of Bern and the Brights could give some folk pop acts we’ve featured here at TGTF (including Mumford and Sons and Fanfarlo) a run for their money. Engaging, fun music with Malavarca’s strong voice leading the way.

In 2008, they were named #46 by New York City’s Deli Magazine ‘Best Emerging NYC Artists’. You can probably imagine that there must be thousands if not tens of thousands of bands in the NYC area. Stop and consider that Chairlift, Vivian Girls, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Jaguar Love were also on that list. They then went on to win the Deli’s 2008 Open Poll (only open to readers), so you know they have a loyal, local fanbase who see them at venues you’re likely to have heard of: examples include Webster Hall in New York City, Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, mostly famous as the small club where Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi played in their early years. They have a Facebook page with over 1,000 fans already.

Considering they are a young band in music industry terms (they played their first gig together in 2008, an impromptu show at a bookshop closing), I think they might be on to something. Huge.

Bern and the Brights have an EP out called ‘Swing Shift Maisies’ and it can be purchased from Amazon.

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One Response

3:25 pm
16th August 2010

Amazing news guys!! Upwards, upwards, upwards! Keep ridin’ the wave 🙂 🙂 🙂

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