HighMay keeps it not quite indie, not quite folk

421189_10150663430884313_549225183_nIt was in 2010 that metro-Detroit indie band, HighMay was formed. The three-piece group that describes themselves as “eclectic,” consists of Eastern Michigan University alum Julian Fraser on drums, Jimmy Atton on lead vocals and guitar and Stephan K. on mandolin, violin, keys and vocals. In the past two years, they’ve played shows across the country, including Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh to name a few.

Whilst touring, “The Upside,” their debut album released Jan. 3 on local label Off The Records, was written. Some of HighMay’s influences are Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket and Citizen Cope.

It’s clear that while HighMay is heavily influenced by indie and folk sounding musicians and that they’ve adopted a somewhat similar sound, something sets them apart: they’re pretty upbeat.

“The Upside” isn’t an album to help you through a breakup like a lot of indie albums, nor is it trying to be particularly deep like a lot of folk albums try to be. Comprised of light beats, a lot of rhymes and some witty lines, “The Upside,” for the most part, is a feel-good album.

Opening with “Collar,” a song about a breakup, even accompanied with violins, it doesn’t sound like the typical song that would get a chuckle. But with the chorus consisting of the line, “I thought I was the only one, but I was such a fool, back when flipping up your collar was cool,” you really can’t help but laugh to yourself.

It’s not all wit and rhymes on “The Upside,” though. An album wouldn’t be complete without a romantic song too. “Dust” covers that, being the song any girl would want written about her, complete with the acoustic guitar. “I’ve got six new strings, I’ve got ten missed calls, whatever this night brings, wherever our dust falls.” Umm, swoon.

Some other songs on “The Upside” that stood out to me are “Stay 4 Hours,” “X-Mas Gifts (Jack’s Song),” both of which include a female vocalist as well. Naturally, I loved these ones, because I’m a sucker for male/female duets. The woman singing in these songs had a very smooth voice; I would even listen to her sing alone.

HighMay doesn’t stick with the generic guitarist, bassist, drummer, line up. Throwing a mandolin and a violin into the mix does a great job of giving them a sound that sets them apart from most other indie bands. As stated on their Facebook page, “Eclectic rock music. Original. HighMay is a mystery, yet not.” That sounds about right.

HighMay has established a sound that works for them, which is the first step in making it in the biz. On “The Upside,” they don’t veer too far away from it. While not necessarily a bad thing, (if it’s not broke, don’t fix it), on future HighMay albums it’ll be interesting to hear what other sounds and styles they come up with.

Though it’s easy to decipher where they derived some inspiration, it’s hard to put a finger on specific bands I would say they sound like. Check them out for yourselves, “The Upside” is available for your listening pleasure at http://www.highmay.bandcamp.com and if you dig it, you can purchase it.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

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