You can find a lot —really, too many—of musicians in Brooklyn. At least half the people I know are in bands. Which is great! Unfortunately, a lot of these talented folk all… kind of play the same thing. Or iterations of the same few genres: Shoegaze, garage rock, electronic indie, indie folk. The one thing you can’t seem to find is pared down sounds. Gentle acoustic lullabies are rare in NYC’s coolest borough.
Which is why brother-sister team This Frontier Needs Heroes is a breath of fresh air in the local music scene. The two started writing songs and playing together—Brad on guitar, Jessica on tambourine—and toured all over the world trying to make a name for themselves with classic unplugged strums and endearing harmonies.
That didn’t quite catapult them to fame, and the siblings eventually parted—Brad now lives in Jacksonville, Florida (a city with a very vibrant burgeoning music scene of its own), while Jessica stayed in Brooklyn. Turns out getting out of this music-saturated city was all it took to really propel their sound forward.
Their latest album, Hooky (released Aug. 27), is an intricate composition recorded in Philadelphia with a full band. The two-man folk sound is elevated to something more akin to Andrew Bird meets The Decemberists than Woody Guthrie. Most notable is the use of haunting violin and winding organ—take the climbing intro to “Down on the Farm” followed by introspective lyrics “When I turned 21/ my grandpa showed me how to shoot a gun/ At first I thought that it was fun/ then I heard that the sun would die/ and so would I.” Also worth a mention: The sad and vaguely funny, ode to loneliness that is “George Clooney” (below). It’s richer and more elaborate but polished to leave you wanting more, not borne down by skittering instruments. The best use of a full band to emphasize a small outfit when recording is this exact kind of subtlety. Many, many current artists could take note. Especially in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, the siblings geographic differences means no tours are currently planned outside of Jacksonville. Until then, keep Hooky at the top of the playlist—it’s reminiscent of (and a prefect soundtrack for) long walks in early fall dusks.