Local 913, Episode 52: Standard Broadcast
Pittsburgh’s Standard Broadcast releases its debut full-length
It’s an upbeat, piano-driven four-chorder topped off with some nice vocal interplay familiar to anybody who listened to pop rock in the 1990s.
“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.
Show review and photography by: Dakota Horbaczek.
BY: Alex Gordon
THE 9:13 BUZZ
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"Pittsburgh indie rock band Standard Broadcast changed the pace of this concert. Their set-up was a little different; they took out the bass guitar and swapped it with a cello and keyboard. Their unique style was best showcased when the cellist used his boot to balance the instrument on stage while directly next to him, the lead singer played his keyboard which rested on top of a hollowed-out stereo from the 1940s. Their pace, lyrics, and tone relaxed you into a state where you could move to the music without a care in the world."
Pittsburgh's WTAE Channel 4's Trish Smithchats up the band on their history and the new LP!
BY: ANDREW WOEHREL
All Comes Back To You
Even though it’s only for brief moments, Standard Broadcast’s vocalist/pianist Nathan Jay’s voice reminds me of the ’90s, when gruff grunting and odd vocal tics were accepted hooks. (Think Better Than Ezra’s “wah-how!,” Collective Soul’s “yeah,” and countless others.) On “Me Without You,” the standout track on Standard Broadcast’s debut EP, All Comes Back to You, Jay’s growling resembles something from a parallel universe where Eddie Vedder is the vocalist of Coldplay. “Me Without You” is buoyed by a rough cello riff, probably the best moment on this brief EP. This bass-less group mixes angst with piano and cello-driven grooves, and although it’s refreshing to hear groaning vocals over something other than crunchy nu-metal guitars, in this case I have to admit that I sort of miss them.
The Pittsburgh group Standard Broadcast formed in 2014 when pianist Nathan Jay and cellist Leland Shaw’s previous band dissolved. “He and I just got together and started writing music. The cello has such a good bass-end to it. I love the melancholy sound of a cello. It mirrors kind of when you’re doing more rock or pop stuff. It’s good to have that balance,” Jay says.
The guys first added Holly Fromlak’s drumming to their non-traditional ensemble, but eventually Fromak migrated to her specialty: the guitar. “I’ve known Holly since she was in 8th or 9th grade. She’s one of my younger sister’s best friends. When Leland and I were starting our group, we played her a couple songs and she really liked it. She told us she plays drums, and we were like ‘Yes! Come play drums for us!’ She did that for about ten months. The kind of music we were writing, she really wanted to bring in the guitar. I mean, she went to WVU for classical guitar, so she’s been playing guitar for 15 or 20 years.”
With Holly moving to guitar, they welcomed Jeff Skalyo on drums and recorded their debut EP. Standard Broadcast’s songwriting duties are shared among Jay, Fromlak and Shaw. The song “Here We Are” was written by Nathan Jay. For more on Standard Broadcast, check out their website.