Los Angeles-based indie punk band Near Beer have shared their long-awaited self-titled debut album ahead of the release date. You can listen to it exclusively at Thoughts Words Action.
The album officially comes out tomorrow, Friday 15.07. via Double Helix Records. Pre-order the album HERE
The band describes their first record as a set of “mini-anthems about insomnia, drinking, and human connection. Sometimes cynical. Sometimes romantic. Always with loud guitars.”
Speaking on their brand new LP, Siara wrote: “It’s been exactly ten years since I put out a record with my old band. And that record was all about trying to make peace with bailing on music and embracing adulthood. This NEAR BEER record is pretty much a rejection of that. There are lots of little thoughts on ‘adulthood’ or whatever scattered throughout, but most importantly to us, this record is about making peace with the fact that we simply love music and don’t really know how NOT to be in a band. Being in a loud indie rock band with your buddies and tons of guitars feels right, and in a world that kinda sucks at the moment, we want to do whatever we can to foster a little joy and human connection.”
Near Beer are Joey Siara (vocals, guitar), Brent Stranathan (drums), and Jeremy Levy (bass, backup vocals).
“I don’t recall the specifics, but there were margaritas, tacos, a pool, and a bunch of our friends talking about babies,” says guitarist/singer Joey Siara, when asked about the benign house party beginnings of his new band Near Beer. “We had a conversation about Teenage Fanclub I think — songs that make you want to drive into the sunset.”
He pauses to punctuate his point: “You know, aging indie rockers pining for the glory of a perfect power-pop tune while the rest of their friends become responsible, child-rearing adults.”
And that, dear reader, is the je ne sais quoi of Near Beer’s self-titled debut — a relentless last call record that doesn’t know the meaning of moderation 95-percent of the time. Not when the night’s long and life’s so… damn… short.
Or as Siara puts it, “Our music’s often a push-pull between keeping stuff loose and succumbing to our maximalist tendencies. There are days where I want to channel Bee Thousand and days where I want to do Born to Run.”
Near Beer’s capable of either, believe it or not. That’s what happens when you’ve logged past lives in LA bands like The Henry Clay People, Fakers, and I Make This Sound, and spent the past 10 years slaying everything from grad school (Siara accumulated a couple master’s degrees) to R.E.M. songs (Near Beer bassist/cover song crusher Jeremy Levy does a mean Michael Stipe).
And that’s just the two longtime friends who co-founded the group. On-again off-again guitarist Dan Long (who insisted upon naming the band) is a reputable producer/engineer (Film School, Spiral Stairs) responsible for founding one of Brooklyn’s most storied mixing boards (Headgear Studio), drummer/auxiliary-everything Brent Stranathan is a chaotic neutral beat conductor who met Siara in a softball league and bonded over the idea that a 12-string can “sound cool when distorted.”
All to say – this isn’t Near Beer’s first rodeo. More like a second chance to make things right and leave a mark in the spirit of such north stars as The Replacements, Pavement, and The Clash. From the venom-tipped vibes and tongue-in-cheek takedowns of “Yelling at a Dog” to the sucker punch percussion and careening power chords of “Dead Drummers,” Near Beer is all about songs that strive for transcendence. The magic of making things. Flaws that feel like blessings. And the fleeting release of a fist-in-the-air rock anthem.
“A lot of my favorite artists were punk bands who didn’t seem satisfied being punk bands,” explains Siara, “so you see them pushing at the edges of their limited abilities…. That’s where I think a lot of my favorite music exists — where ambition exceeds talent, but the bands still go for it anyways.”
He continues, “It’s a sort of slacker restlessness. You can be lazy as shit — you can love beer, and a good nap — but still want more out of life.”
If that sounds mildly philosophical, consider this: Siara is a big Moby Dick fan, mostly because “it feels like it’s written with such manic energy – poignant, hilarious, and tragic.” Which makes sense once you realize just how intense Near Beer’s album is lyrically. Aside from all that aforementioned talk of growing old gracelessly, there’s a fair amount of death on the record. In the span of recording the album, Siara lost a couple of friends, including a former band-mate from his short-lived outlet The Dog Creeps, and his actual dog Edna.
“Edna was my best bud,” says Siara, “and was with me the last 13 years, which was easily the strangest era of my life so far…. Anyhow, we put Edna on the cover.”