Posted by Brandon Vesely on 08/02 at 05:06 PM
Oberhofer is a five-piece group that rose from the depths of the NYU music scene in 2008. The band’s alias comes from the last name of lead singer Brad Oberhofer, who writes and records the majority of the group’s music, employing the help of other group members only as needed.
Oberhofer sit comfortably beneath the widely-encompassing umbrella term, “alternative rock,” albeit with experimentation with a variety of genres, including noise pop, indie, and dance punk. Brad Oberhofer ventures in a variety of musical directions with his songwriting and often conveys personal emotions through his lyrics and their accompanying soundscapes. That said, nearly every Oberhofer track is unique and memorable.
In 2010, the young group began to gain traction with the release of their first single “o0Oo0O0o,” a youthful track that employs the group’s signature keyboard driven instrumentals and explores teen angst and romance. The track gained them the attention of established groups like Sleigh Bells and Neon Indian, both of which asked Oberhofer to tour with them.
After a round of concerts in 2011, Oberhofer landed a record deal with Glassnotes Records and began work on their first full-length album, Time Capsules II. Brad enlisted the help of renowned producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with successful groups like The Killers, Talking Heads, and 30 Seconds to Mars. He recorded most of the vocals and instrumental backings himself, recruiting help from other musicians only when absolutely necessary. Additionally, the group did a considerable amount of promotional work in advance of the record’s release, most importantly making a musical appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. By the time of its release on March 27, 2012, Stereogum had designated Time Capsules II the 39th most anticipated album of 2012.
Notable tracks from the debut include “Landline,” “Away FRM U,” and “I Could Go.” “Landline,” the album’s second track, features harmonic instrumentals and peppy drumming, while incorporating themes of loyalty and commitment. The following track, “Away FRM U”, which Oberhofer performed during their Letterman appearance, is a catchy song with a boyish, uncertain sound created by glockenspiel melodies and innovative percussion work. The album’s fourth track, “I Could Go,” is slower but retains its predecessor’s upbeat, juvenile feel. This song also includes the glockenspiel instrumentals that define the group’s unique sound and adds melodic guitar riffs and orchestral effects. All and all, Time Capsules II is a moving, cohesive album that earned the album critical and popular recognition as an up-and-coming artist in alternative music.
Watch the video for “Away FRM U” here:
Since the release of their first album, Oberhofer has toured relentlessly, stopping at venues across North America and making appearances at well-known music festivals like Lollapalooza and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
I saw them play in Pittsburgh earlier this summer and their performance was fantastic. The quintet’s unrivaled musicianship carries over to the live arena and Brad’s animated stage presences makes for a lively and entertaining show.
Despite their hectic touring schedule, Oberhofer has made time to produce a new EP, Nostalgia, which they unveiled on July, 15 2013. The EP reflects Brad Oberhofer’s musical growth and maturing songwriting skills, but still preserves the adolescent feel of the group’s debut album.
The EP’s first track, “You + Me (Still Together in the Future),” is a softer melodic track that illustrates Brad’s diverse musical skills and conveys emotional depth. I heard the song for the first time when I saw Oberhofer live, and the track remains one of my favorite Oberhofer songs to date.
The second song on the new release, “Got Your Letter,” is a synthy track with an optimistic feel, that continues the emotional complexity of the EP’s opening track.
A short instrumental interlude splits “Got Your Letter” and the next full track, “Earplugs,” a decidedly dissonant track that contains some of the band’s best harmonies.
The final track on the short but impressive EP is “Together/Never,” a “nostalgic” track, (pun intended), that includes titillating instrumental progressions and floating vocals.
All and all, the album has a soft feel that projects a sentimental, reflective aura. Even with its more serious nature, Oberhofer’s second effort carries on the sonic diversity and impressive musicianship of Time Capsules II. Oberhofer’s talent and drive ensures that the unique group will remain a fixture in the alternative/experimental genre.
For the remainder of the August, the band will continue to perform across the country and at various festivals, as they put the final touches on their second full-length studio album. I highly recommend checking Oberhofer out on Spotify, where you can find their entire discography to date, or seeing them live in the future if they make a stop in your area.
Author: Brandon Vesely
Bio: Brandon Vesely is originally from the Pittsburgh area and is currently a junior majoring in Public Relations and Spanish at Penn State. In his free time he enjoys reading, writing, biking, and spending time outdoors. His musical interests are wide-ranging and include a variety of alternative genres including post-hardcore, indie, noise pop, and pop punk. Some of his favorite artists are Bayside, Yeasayer, Phantogram, and Fireworks.
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