Beat Connection: Ephemeral Euphoria

Music Features Beat Connection

Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
Band Members: Reed Juenger, Jordan Koplowitz, Tom Eddy (vocals), Jarred Katz (drummer)
Album: The Palace Garden
For Fans Of: LCD Soundsystem, Tanlines, Passion Pit

Broodingly joyous, Beat Connection makes dance music in the fine tradition of White Guys With Soul, handed down from Phil Collins to George Michael to James Murphy. The Seattle band came to Brooklyn to hype their ear-burrowing debut album The Palace Garden. As the band drank Rolling Rocks in the Knitting Factory green room before the show, multi-instrumentalist/producer Reed Juenger laughed as he described the band’s sound.

“I usually use way too many words: ‘It’s somewhat pseudo-tropical this and that’” he said, wiry and handsome, ready to melt the hipsterite remove of the Williamsburg crowd. “But it’s just pop music. It’s not one of those more cool genres. It’s pop.”

That’s exemplified in the honeyed hooks of the Hype Machine-smashing “Palace Garden, 4 AM,” a three-minute single as charged with fresh romance, lead singer Tom Eddy shouting out “rhythm of the night” and “take me when you go.”

While the album begins with bite-sized bits of blissful pop, an avant garde touch lurks in wait: The listener tumbles through a volley of hip-hop beats and industrial-sized synths, the grinningly titled “Oeuvreboard.” Though not immediately obvious, it’s this sense of juxtaposition that forms the album’s narrative and reveals the band’s craftsmanship.

As Reed will tell you, the album-opening endorphin rush is an attempt at capturing the feeling of nights turned into lifetime highlights. It’s an “implicit, amazing experience,” one that the rest of the album attempts to return to.

That is, of course, until realizing that a return to ephemeral glory can’t happen. That insight crystallizes in “Think Feel,” a glossy reflection on thinking too much and feeling too little. The record closes with the reminiscence of “Sometimes Wonder” and the catharsis of “En Route.” All together, it’s heady stuff for a brainy young band. One with a lot of ambition.

They’re already recording new tracks while on the road that are all booming bottom end; that, coupled with Jarred Katz’s studies in jazz drumming and Reed’s in sound art, points toward a highly experimental second album, with talks of touring with a sound installation. That’s all in the future, Reed admits: the tracks they’re working on now probably won’t make it onto the next record.

Their songwriting process is pure 2012, as Reed is “constantly consuming” experiences of life and music, bringing those experiences into pop songs, and bringing those pop songs into larger compositions. As the band recorded the tracks in studio, they’re reverse-engineered to be played live.

When the band takes the stage, their setup unorthodox, Reed is on turntable decks in the center with his bandmates surrounding him. The audience is young, anxious, and eager—and so, it seems, is the band. It’s a new thing to play a soldout show, but the blue lights come on, the album intro “New Criteria” drifts out, and the crowd builds in anticipation, until “Palace Garden, 4 AM,” turns the indie bar into a dance club.

All the elation is what the band set out to make: “Some beautiful thing that you can’t really get back to, like in a dream,” Reed says, describing the night evoked in “Palace Garden, 4 AM” and it might be added, this one as well: “The euphoria that exists in isolated pockets across a life.”

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