How does a 3 piece band sound so full? The Front Bottoms, a 3 piece indie rock group from NJ, put together the same compositions as groups like River City Extension (Who have 8 members in the band) but do it in a much different way. The band blends guitars, horns, pianos, synths, violins, cow bells and much more to create a chaotic indie-punk outfit to please a certain demographic. In other words, it seems like this is a hipster's wet dream. It's not a bad thing if you aren't a "hipster", but if you have an affinity towards pop music, then this isn't for you.
The band released a 6 song EP entitled Slow Dance To Soft Rock, which is a cornucopia of straight indie rock songs that you can expect from any other folk inspired band: acoustic guitar noodling, brutally honest and descriptive lyrics, splashy cymbals, and nasally vocals. Once again, there's nothing wrong with it if you like this kind of music. I just would not recommend this band as being the first indie rock band you listen to.
Why? I doubt it's the band's intention, but it has an extreme air of pretentiousness. The one thing that I have always hated about these kinds of bands are the lyrics. When I hear what I consider to be bad lyrics that are mainly corny poems, it's very hard for me to get into it. This line exemplifies what I'm talking about: "I had this dream that I am hitting my dad with a baseball bat, and he is screaming and crying for help." It's a continuing theme throughout the EP in the song "The Beers": "I will remember that summer as the summer I was taking steroids cause you like a man with muscles and I like you." To me, I don't see the genius behind this kind of songwriting and it oftens leaves me puzzled as why artists write that way.
However, don't sit out on the band just yet. They are pretty creative musicians. The ability to intertwine many different instruments into their songs makes them a standout artist among the New Jersey scene. One moment they're playing a violin in the background (In "Maps) and the next song has a raucous horn line (In "Father"). They have an ear for making solid music, it's not like they are just throwing random instruments in there for variety. Everything has a place, which is easily the band's strongest point.
I think a band like The Front Bottoms are one of those groups that would captivate me more live than they do in the studio. There is a certain energy in the songs that are lost in the compression of the recordings and it's a fair assessment that the band has more to offer than what the EP shows. Overall, the band is a fun listen if you're open to hearing new music and exploring some different sounds.