ALBUM REVIEW: The Maravines “Distelfink”


I remember my friend was explaining to me that she needed to listen to EDM music when life became too chaotic for her, that these concerts provided the setting for her to let go. While this may be true for some people, I’ve always found solace in listening to music that would almost- if not actually-make me cry. Meditation suggests that slow, mellow music is excessively pleasurable because it provides equanimity, uniforming your mind in aggravating times. My newly founded melodic remedy comes from two-piece band, The Maravines, out of the Garden State.

Now although 2014 was a big year for the Frozen soundtrack, it has been equally as exceptional for New Jersey artists, without being overshadowed by our neighboring sleepless city. Slowly New Jersey has been stapling their music scene on the map, with incredible artists emerging like The Gaslight Anthem, Titus Andronicus, and The Front Bottoms. The Maravines deserve a broader audience, after proving caliber like these NJ greats with the release of their sophomore album, Distelfink (released Jan. 18).

The Maravines is a dyad of Chris Lee as their lead singer and guitarist with Evan Pope on drums. Their sophomore album lured me into a spell-binding space of New Jersey dreamin’ and flawless transitions.

Pretty sweet that the band is based near my home in Northern New Jersey. I’m assuming “Flowers on Tonelle” refers to a road five miles from my house where I grew up. And their folk-y, indie vibes brings me back to the simpler times when I would listen to all the new independent bands emerging throughout high school. I genuinely loved all the tracks and not only for their individual appeal, but how truly elegant the songs strung together. And although the album isn’t overwhelmingly complex, meticulous- the music is pretty goddamn mosaic to create this 9-track drifted artistry.

“Giants” gave me a nostalgic shock syndrome. It became for me what “New Slang” was for so many indie-enthusiasts nearly two decades ago. And I’m not saying The Maravines are in any way following the steps or mimicking the sounds of The Shins or The Decemberists, but rather creating a new vibration to be discovered and appreciated. Lee’s voice is thick, yet sotto voce- pleasant to the backround of Pope’s warm percussions. Totally perfect for their leakage of mellow, sometimes slightly haunting lyrics- “I’d sell my soul my darling I have said, for you all lain and sprawled out on my bed. But the devil won’t pay, I’m missing parts, he knows it’s you who has stole my heart.” From “Missing Parts,” the lyrics as well as the guitar presence is absolutely beautiful, prolonged sustains- perfect. I also can’t be sure if “Maryland” refers to a girl, the state, or somehow both but Distelfink actually refers to a diner in Pennsylvania Lee took a polaroid of (also the name of a bird that serves as a lucky charm for the locals). Until now, I haven’t figured out which of the three states (NJ, PA, MD) might have influenced the band the most.

Whether you’re coming off the NJ Transit bus or buying flowers from that elderly Spanish woman on Tonelle, check out the dreamy vibrations that The Maravines have to offer. By way of 400 Mint Records, you can also catch them at Parkside Lounge in two months. Until then, show some love and stream their new album here.

Also enjoy an acoustic session of “Third Floor Statue” and “Giants.”