Bishop Allen

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Courtesy of Bishop Allen

Bishop Allen – “The Ancient Commonsense of Things”

Some suave, preppy, sweater vest-wearing students – recently graduated from an Ivy League university – decide to form an indie-rock band based in New York City with a name conceived by a little-known film director. You probably think you know how this band’s story ends (or Week-ends, in this case).

But the true band in question, Bishop Allen, is not Vampire Weekend, even if it might share an extraordinarily eerie number of similarities.  The Brooklyn, New York act started when the two key members, singer Justin Rice and guitarist Christian Rudder, met on WHRB, Harvard’s college radio station nearly a decade ago.

Since 2003, Bishop Allen has released three full albums and a staggering 12 EPs, of which they wrote and recorded during an ambitious 12-month period in 2006.  Its most recent full-length album, Grrr… is due out March 10.

While Bishop Allen certainly has a fair share of typical indie qualities (the band members appeared as characters in “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” last year and contributed tunes to said “playlist”), they also have a distinguished songwriting style that separates them from the rest of their scenester peers. By implementing a wide assortment of colorful instruments and many layers of melody, Bishop Allen songwriting feels both scatterbrained and focused at the same time.

On “The Ancient Commonsense of Things,” Rice sings with staccato over pizzicato strings, exotic marimbas and hook-filled guitars.  With a simple chorus and sing-along “oohs” and “aahs,” Bishop Allen finds an appropriate balance of pop and weird.  In the song “Dimmer,” Rice combines nonsensical lyrics that set a playful tone with Rudder’s bouncy bass and violins.

On the whole, Bishop Allen packs just as much bite as Vampire Weekend and has a unique pop quality that will likely develop a congregation of its own.

by Asst. Entertainment Editor Geoff Schorkopf

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