With little over a year under its belt as an official band, eclectic Williamsburg-based quartet Ambassadors found its music video for "Tropisms," the very first single off the group's self-titled debut EP, featured on MTVu's Freshman Five.
Funny enough, the editors at MTVu compared the group's soul-infected, electro-indie-rock to that of Kings of Leon. That gave us a good guffaw. Besides the obvious fact that both are family bands, with Ambassadors consisting of brothers Sam (lead singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist) and Casey Harris (keyboardist), with childhood friend Noah Feldshuh (lead guitarist, co-songwriter), and drummer Adam Levin, while Kings of Leon comprised of the Followill brothers, each band's musical output is strikingly incomparable in our book.
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"We hear that all the time," said the personable Ambassador frontman Sam Harris when New Times caught up with him while he was traveling with his band on the road towards a gig in Charlotte, North Carolina. "It's so funny because some fans are outraged by that comparison, but every once in a while, I'll run into someone who will tell me 'dude you sound just like Caleb Followill.'"
Other journalist have had a hard time pinning down Ambassadors wide-ranging output, categories as far reaching as R&B, tribal beat, and soulful dark electronic have been thrown out there to try to classify the quartet. To us, when people have a hard time putting into words what a band sounds like, it's exceptionally phenomenal attribute.
Sam agrees with us and tells us that just on this tour alone, Ambassadors have been compared to the likes of jug band folk re-hashers Mumford and Sons, to polished neo-soul troupe Maroon 5 to neo-psych-rock ready My Morning Jacket, and even to the sappy, arena pop of Coldplay.
"I think it's great that we can't be pigeonholed that easily," says Sam, but he is quick to point out that that unclassifiable nature can also be a double-edged sword. "It works against us sometimes because, it is much easier to market a band when you fit you into a specific genre. "
We ask him then how he explains what his band sounds like to everyday folk?
"I came up with something really good the other day, we are a gospel-y indie group with a little bit of electronica and synth stuff thrown in." Sam tells us that his interpretation of Ambassador's sound might fluctuate at gigs and "end up sounding completely different live." Ambassadors, according to Sam, are a band that is ever-evolving with their sound, always willing to try new things to move forward.
The four-piece is currently touring the country in its new 15-passanger van on the wares of its just released debut full length Litost. Admirably, the four guys from Ambassadors have accomplished all this with absolutely no label support whatsoever.
"We are doing our own thing and we are feeling pretty confident with the stuff that's happening on our own, without the help of a label," said Sam. "At this point, we are not really looking for one anyways, but you know, if someone wants to come at us with a great deal we will consider it.
Sam says that the sales of its debut, released in early February, are doing just fine and that his group has been doing perfectly well without label support. "A label is really only going to help us in distribution or as a tastemaker sort of thing. " Sam insists that he and his bandmates couldn't be happier.
As soon as the tour is over, the band has plans to self-release two music videos from tracks off Litost. Sam explains that the word is an untranslatable Czech word from a book by Milan Kundera, which means a state of feeling miserable and humiliated. The videos include "Unconsolable," a bombastic rave-up that is nowhere as gloomy as the album title suggests, and another Kundera reference, "Weight/Lightness," a baroque pop number with Fleet Foxes-style harmonies and an insatiable beat to propel it.
Here is a little taste of Ambassadors' mingled indie pop.
Ambassadors perform with Lights 7:30 p.m. Sunday March 11 at the Culture Room. 3045 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Tickets Cost $13. More Info here