Receiver returning with upbeat sound
By John Benson
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a resurgence in piano-based acts popping up in the mainstream. From Keane and Coldplay to The Fray and Jack’s Mannequin, you seemingly can’t turn on the radio without hearing someone tickling the ivories for a love song.
However, for some musical folks, the keyboard sound is a) nothing new and b) more discriminating than pop melodies for heart-shaped tunes. Take Columbus-based modern rock act The Receiver, which features brothers Casey (programming, bass, keyboards, lead vocals) and Jesse Cooper (drums, vocals).
“I don’t feel like we’re really a part of that current sound,” Casey said. “We’re more on an independent kind of level. A little bit more abstract. It’s not really poppy. It’s more like generically alternative with a little bit of rock in there, but there’s an influence of classical music, indie rock, a lot of those sorts of things. We try to make the music very musical, and I know that sounds so weird to say it that way.”
He added, “I definitely think Blonde Redhead is a good comparison for us just because of their chord progression and their style. I’d also say from a vocal standpoint, a little bit of Elliot Smith and then an overall conceptual comparison I think that would be akin to Radiohead. You know, we try to write a lot of pretty melodies and instrumental parts but also incorporate heavy bass and drums and stuff.”
Formed in 2005 in the basement of the home the brothers were sharing at the time, The Receiver released its debut effort, “Decades,” a year later and quickly began touring as much as possible. It was during this time on the road that Casey said it became evident the act needed to expand its horizon for its next effort. This brings us to the sophomore album, “Length of Arms,” which includes the epic title track as well as the heavier “Skin and Bone.”
“The first album has a very intimate sound and very intimate feel,” Casey said. “It’s keyboard-based. We’re a keyboard-based band, so we have drums, bass and keyboard and vocals. That’s the makeup of the sound, but the first album was more chamber-esque as opposed to the second record, which after making the first record and touring we kind of learned the hard way that we wanted some more upbeat kind of rocking songs.
“So that was one of our initial focuses on the second record, to kind of pick up the pace a little bit and inject a little bit more energy into the music. I think that’s one of the biggest, most noticeable differences on the second record — that it’s more upbeat and there’s a lot more layering going on with synthesizers. I really feel like as an overall project, it’s just more developed in every way.”
In looking ahead, Cooper is optimistic The Receiver’s organic approach will pay off in the end. For example, after making its Northeast Ohio debut at Cedars Lounge a few months ago, the duo is excited about their return Friday to the popular Youngstown venue with the hope being to not only find new fans but persuade them to spread the word.
“The night we played there it was in the winter, and Youngstown was just hit really hard with a lot of snow,” Cooper said. “I remember loading in. It wasn’t too much fun, and the crowd was thin, but that’s to be expected. That’s the thing with us — we’re not na Øve, and we know it takes a lot of hard work and persistent playing and touring to kind of earn our fans one at a time.
“So any little bit helps. We’re just hoping we can make a strong enough impression on the people that are there to see us so hopefully they’ll buy a CD, show it to their friends and talk them into come seeing us the next time we come through.”