“Opposites,” the lead single from Standard Broadcast’s forthcoming debut album, is a fitting, thoroughly catchy introduction to the indie-rock four-piece. It’s an upbeat, piano-driven four-chorder topped off with some nice vocal interplay between vocalist/pianist Nathan Jay and guitarist Holly Fromlak, a sound familiar to anybody who listened to pop-rock in the 1990s. The band’s style is clean and affable, and despite lacking a bassist, it’s dynamic and surprisingly well rounded.
It’s all the product of trial and error, experimentation and adjustment. Jay met cellist Leland Shaw playing in The Lucky Devils, which transitioned to the two of them playing as a cello-piano duo. That drew the attention of Fromlak, who joined on the drums before switching over to guitar, replaced by Jeff Skaylo, a drummer they found via Craigslist. It’s a mouthful of a history. But judging from their output so far — a four-song EP called All Comes Back to You and a few already released songs from the forthcoming debut — all that shifting around has paid off.
An early fan favorite from the EP was “Me Without You” (which will also appear on the debut). At first it sounds like one of Bach’s cello suites and unfolds into a sweet, cleverly arranged love song. It’s hard not to hear traces of Eddie Vedder and other ’90s vocalists in Jay’s husky, low-toned delivery, but the song, and the group in general, doesn’t really feel like a nostalgia trip. It’s more that the band shoots for a strain of accessible, earnest pop music that today tends toward electronic instrumentation or rustic, banjo-fied folk. Yet, Standard Broadcast is neither of these things.
The nine-song eponymous LP, produced by Jake Hanner of Donora, splits songwriting duties among the group, with Jay arranging most of the lyrics (“a big pot of collaboration” is what he calls it). Shaw and Fromlak both come from classical backgrounds, whereas Jay had less formal training (he majored in art education). That collaboration, those different perspectives and several genres all housed under one roof is a big part of why Standard Broadcast succeeds.
Standard Broadcast is out on Sat., Oct. 22, following a release show this Friday.