With a title that’s a clever twist on a familiar phrase and probably reflective of an overriding band aesthetic, Byre’s debut EP Here in Dead Lights is all at once, and alternately, trippy, fuzzy, languid, energetic, dreamy, hypnotic, hard rocking, synthy, poppy, rocky – and truly catchy. If that sounds a bit sonically schizo, it’s all in good, playful fun that pushes the limits of what qualifies as alt-indie (heavy emphasis on the alt) rock these days.
From the jangling, swirling infectious raucousness of the opener “Object Permanence” through the atmospheric, hypno-dreamscape of “Ghost Blood” and on to “With a Hammer”’s circus-y synthesis of whimsical key textures, blistering guitars and heavy marching drumbeats, Byre is delightfully all over the map yet compelling and honest in their off-kilter intentions.
The mix doesn’t allow us to hear every word, but they’re a mix of sultry cool and explosive expressions, and with solid harmonies when they soar. The eclectic energies of the music may just stem from each member of the group also being part of alt-ish bands from California and Indiana. Aaron Tanner is from the instrumental unit Off-Ox, an Evansville group that’s been described as “an acute blend of grappling melody, angular weirdness and explosive indie rock.”
Seriously, the same could be said of Byre. Other members include keyboardist Zach Zint (from Indiana’s Thunder Dreamer), Rob Crow (from San Diego indie rockers Pinback), drummer Spencer Seim (from Sacramento math rock group Hella) and featured guitarist (of whom Wayne and Garthy would say “He wails!”) Ryan Grisham of Evansville alt indie unit Mock Orange.
Their bio is a bit cagey when it comes to their origin story – almost like they just joined forces serendipitously – but that just allows us to listen closely to their unique vibe as we contemplate how it must have happened.