With bands such as The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Mumford and Sons enchanting modern audiences, as well as notable celebrities Steve Martin and Ed Helms embracing the genre, the old-time sound of the banjo, violin, mandolin, dobro, etc. is here to stay.
That brings us to Oh Pep!, who recently released their debut LP Stadium Cake. Unlike many of the aforementioned celebrities and artists, Oh Pep! sounds a little less Marcus Mumford and a lot more Arcade Fire. However, the female-fronted group is unique in that they use mostly traditional bluegrass and folk instruments to create their indie, jangly pop, including, guitar, violin, mandolin, double bass and bouzouki. This album is miraculous in how subtle these instruments are put into the mix. In fact, the violin, mandolin, and guitar all sound like modern instruments that are common in indie rock, such as synthesizers and electric guitars. This unusual approach to indie music fits in perfectly in songs like “Crazy Feels” and the reverb-soaked “Tea Milk and Honey.”
Although the instruments are all bluegrass, do not expect to find traditional anthems like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Beauty of My Dreams.” As previously indicated, Stadium Cake sounds much more like a pop record. The songs on the LP are all well constructed and the harmonies are generally effervescent. (If any more proof of the Melbourne, Australia band’s hipster credentials are required, the opening track on this album is called “Bushwick.”)
As many music connoisseurs know, the independent music scene is currently booming in the Oceanic continent. Notable artists like Lorde, Flume, Courtney Barnett, etc. all call Australia and New Zealand their home, and Oh Pep! adds another name to the list. However, these ladies definitely stand out from their respective counterparts. They sound less “electronic” than Flume and definitely don’t have the deadpan sense of humor that Courtney Barnett has in her lyrics. Oh Pep!’s musical instrumentation, as well as their songwriting abilities on “The Race” and “Bushwick” assure that this album will not be lost to time. Definitely pick up this album and add a little Pep to your step.