Friday February 24, 2012
Acoustic pop duo Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder have been making music together since high school in their hometown of Malibu, CA. The pair capture a summertime spirit in their music that's influenced by life in the coastal surf town: "We never went to clubs," says Leah. "We just went to the beach to have fun, and that's what we wanted our music to reflect."
Brandon & Leah's self-produced debut album (due later this year) showcases the duo's bright sound, filled with ukulele and acoustic guitar, Caribbean-flavored beats, and Leah's honeyed lead vocals. MTV.com's Buzzworthy Blog recently premiered the official video for "Life Happens," the first offering from the album. Produced by Funk Factory Films (Aloe Blacc, Gogol Bordello) and filmed in the mountains and beaches of Southern California, the clip makes for a perfect companion to the sun-filled track.
"Life Happens" is available now on iTunes. For more information on Brandon & Leah, visit their official site at brandonandleah.com and find them on Facebook for the latest updates.
Is it possible to grow up in Malibu and not go Hollywood? Just ask natives Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder. Passing on the Sunset Boulevard nightlife, they chose instead to spend their time surfing in Malibu, and singing on bonfire-lit beaches. Today, as recording artists, Brandon & Leah try to capture in their music the balmy summertime spirit of their hometown. Judging by their debut album and single, "Life Happens," they pull it off with ease.
"Brandon and I have known each other since we were kids," says Leah. "We never went to clubs. We just went to the beach to have fun, and thatís what we wanted our music to reflect: the soulfulness of the outdoors."
Produced and co-written by Brandon & Leah, the new album showcases the duoís high, bright sound: plenty of ukulele and upfret acoustic guitar, Caribbean-flavored beats and Leahís honeyed lead vocals. They tend to write about the myriad connections and disconnections between people, but the mood is always light and fun. "Everything is groove based," adds Brandon. "We like things with a positive, beach vibe. If our songs donít make you want to bob your head, then we havenít done our job."
That explains the albumís first track and debut single, the upbeat "Life Happens," which makes the case to stop kvetching and go with the flow. Tracks like "Come Alive" and "Sunday Girl" sustain the buoyant tone, with classic hooks and tasty, layered harmonies.
Brandon & Leah examine the more tenuous side of relationships in songs like "Little Bit Longer," "House of Cards" and "Stay Strange." Says Brandon of the latter, "When your in a relationship you have to grow to like the good and the bad, and thatís what itís about: learning to love somebodyís faults."
In addition to guitars, both Brandon and Leah play drums and percussion, which accounts for the intricate rhythms throughout, especially on tracks such as the wry lament "Vaseline" and the slow jam "My Party." Of the latter, Leah says, " We wanted to paint the picture of an awesome backyard pool party, Dixie cups and low rider bikes."
Perhaps the albumís most electrifying track, the sultry "Show Stopper" lives up to its title. "Itís about bringing out your inner bad-ass," says Leah. As ardent students of pop songwriting, Brandon & Leah always try to give their songs unexpected musical and lyrical twists. The prayerful "Together" is rich in atmospherics, while "Time Wonít Tell" has a timely message about self-reliance, based on real-life experience.
The album ends with "Say It Ainít So Bad," a bittersweet song about triumphing over despair. Itís a sentiment that fits perfectly with Brandon & Leahís elevated spirit.
That spirit comes naturally to the pair, who have known each other since their school days in Malibu, which Leah remembers fondly as "a little surf town." As the two became friends they discovered their mutual love of music. In their teens, Brandon and Leah started writing and performing together, honing an acoustic pop style. Both loved what Brandon calls "beachy" music Ė Ben Harper and Bob Marley are favorites Ė which they wove into their sound, with Leah front and center.
Pairing up with ace songwriters such as Boots Ottestad and Rune Westberg, as well as co-producers like Jorge Vivo, Mario Caldato, Jr.,and Jochem van der Saag, Brandon & Leah put together the album theyíd always dreamed of. Notes Brandon: "Someone once said paying your dues isnít getting in a van and driving around the country; itís figuring out what you want to do sonically and finding your niche. We were always honest about how we feel."
With the new album, single and "Life Happens" video from Funk Factory Films, Brandon & Leah are set to take on the world. And with so much momentum going for the duo, the world had better get ready for a captivating new musical vision. "We canít wait on anyone to say yes," says Leah, who is fired up and ready to go. "Weíre responsible for our own future."