Back in 2008, longtime friends Vitek Benton, Eric Carter, and Corey Lindholm decided to do what they'd wanted to do for a while -- start a band. So they got some instruments, figured out how to play them, and did so. Three years later, Fort Lauderdale's self-described "postpunk" outfit Retrocities enjoys regular bookings at some of the area's hottest spots, including Respectable Street, Propaganda, the Poorhouse, the Bubble, and the Green Room, and the guys are set to have a party next weekend at the latter spot's weekly Gallery Saturdays party to celebrate the release of their self-titled, debut EP.
This release has actually been a long time coming. Retrocities actually had almost an entire album completed previously, but the final stages of the project were taking so long that the guys decided to scrap it. Most of those tunes were relegated to "the archive" to focus on recording some of their more current music. Local musician, producer, and New Times pal Chris Horgan, whom the band befriended while playing shows together, was enlisted to help produce. Recording with Horgan took just a few days, and the whole project was finished in less than a month earlier this year.
The EP features five shadowy songs, heavy with echo and delivered with relentless punch. It is danceable music but could also serve well as the soundtrack to a pensive, rainy-day bus ride following a kick to the chest from the love gods. The band writes all the songs collaboratively, with Lindholm penning most of the lyrics. Retrocities' cited influences include the Who, the Jam, Led Zeppelin, Interpol, Elliott Smith, and Queen. "We listen to mostly old stuff," says Lindholm, "but we do listen to the Smiths and all the other bands we've been compared to."
The comparison that has popped up most frequently has been to Joy Division. Though the similarity of their sound to the postpunk pioneers is often brought up as a negative criticism, Lindholm says he doesn't take offense: "It doesn't bother me, because there aren't a million bands that sound like Joy Division. And they're considered one of the best bands. It's a compliment." Also, he says, they didn't set out to do Joy Division music, postpunk music, or anything else in particular: "It wasn't on purpose. The way we got our sound was pretty much an accident."
He originally imagined the band having a bluesier sound, like the Yardbirds, but Carter's aggressive drumming "sped everything up," and the result has been a driving, postpunk sound. The band is glad to play with "anyone who is nice and fun to play with," but Lindholm says they fit in best with locals like Astari Nite and others who have similarly dark, poppy sounds.
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At the upcoming release party, brother of this writer Brady Newbill -- who collaborates with Retrocities in a side project with called Shadowflame -- will open the night. Then the band will rock out all the tunes from the EP as well as some new tracks -- which will eventually join the five songs from the EP to form a full-length release in the near future. The closing lyric from the EP may ask "Is this the end?" but the band's actions suggest that it's more like the beginning.
Retrocities CD-Release Party. With Brady Newbill. Saturday, September 17, at Green Room, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Click here.