WHO: Randy Bemrose (vocals, multiple instruments).
SOUNDS LIKE: The Beatles' cousins formed a modern indie-pop band.
FOR FANS OF: Early MGMT, Eckhart Tolle, great melodies, homophones, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.
"Ain't nobody wanna hear me wax poetically about day-to-day shit," says Randy Bemrose, "least of all me."
Instead, the former drummer, bassist and producer of Radiation City uses his new solo act, Because, to wax poetically about other shit, and an almost limitless range of it: existentialism, family, faith, abandonment, imagination and sincere explorations of what it means to be a person in the world. That kind of shit.
Related: "Radiation City Is Breaking Up."
With Because, Bemrose is asking the big existential questions, even beyond the songwriting. The project started "more as a means to other ends than one in and of itself," he says. Rather than setting out to prove his ability and worth as a one-man band, Bemrose "wanted an opportunity to learn—how better to play piano, how better to write in my own voice after a number of years away from it, and what exactly were the capabilities of the studio I'd been building in my basement."
The project's debut album, I Want to Be Your B, is the work of the past three years or so, which Bemrose mostly spent building, experimenting with and, in essence, becoming emotionally intimate with his home studio setup. Most of the gear Because used to make the album was built or hand-modified by Bemrose himself.
"I've devoted a great deal of time to very technical engineering endeavors," he says. "I've got pages and pages of notes: mic choices and angles and distances, different outboard signal chains, compression settings." In some ways, "the songs were just skeletons I could hang production experiments on," Bemrose says, "parts I could play over and over as I went hounding for this tone or that."
Both his meticulous obsession with sound and penchant for whimsy and philosophical musing shine through clearly on I Want to Be Your B. A collection of densely orchestrated but not overpolished pop tunes, the album is attractive and refreshing from the first note, and Bemrose's demonstrated commitment to prioritizing strong, stick-with-you melodies sweetens the deal.
The sort of auteur role Bemrose plays in Because—linking his identities as instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and engineer together into one fully realized idea—makes for a compelling and totally unique new artist to watch out for, and keeps Radiation City's sudden breakup from feeling like such a big loss after all.
"There's lots of little ear candy to thrill you or distract you, but if you're focused on the root of things it's very plain, boring almost," Bemrose says. "Life is a wonder. Life is long."
SEE IT: Because plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Point Juncture, WA and Swansea, on Wednesday, Dec. 28. 9 pm. $5. 21+.