The Umbrellas: The Umbrellas

We’re advised that San Francisco band The Umbrellas’ “DIY roots run deep”, and we understand this to mean that they are self-starters as opposed to home improvers; indie bands are not necessarily known for being handy with a cranked spanner or drilling jig – more likely that they learnt to play their instruments themselves, or organise their own gigs. In this case, band member Matt Ferrara recorded and mixed the album in sometimes domestic locations, and album photos and artwork were created by other members of the band.

The Umbrellas’ self-titled album follows the sold out Maritime EP, with three of the four songs from the EP transferring to the debut album (“Visions” remaining an EP exclusive). The band have a distinctive sound due to ringing guitar, skeletal electrified keyboard and shared vocals supplied by Ferrara and Morgan Stanley (not the bank). Keith Frerichs adds further vocals, 12 string acoustic guitar and drums, with Nick Oka skilfully adding bass.

The album has plenty of variety, ranging from the acoustic “It’s True”, the idiosyncratic “Near You” and “City Song”, to the grungy “A.M”. As a Californian band, The Umbrellas can reliably play in the sunshine on the anthemic “Autumn”; they also float languidly in “Summer”, somewhere between the Paisley Underground and Manchester.

The album is at its best on upbeat tracks like “Happy”, which wonders about unhappiness, and the light and sunny “Galine”. It truly excels on the catchy, guitar-driven (read “jangle”), high energy tracks “Lonely”, “Never Available”, “She Buys Herself Flowers” and “Pictures”.  All in all, this is a great and memorable debut.

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Label: Slumberland Records
Release Date: 06 AUG 2021