Long Beach Island-based Double Negatives are a multi-genre band. The group says that genres and styles are simply what you take out of their music, whether it is the atmospheric psychedelia, the feel of the shaking garage door panels, or the inescapable urge to move to the music. Fueled by the love of creating not only music but art in general, this outfit looks out at the world and helps guide the audience into seeing what is out there.
As the band’s bio states, “After the end of their last project in 2013 Mikey DiBernardo (drums), Dimitri Almeyda (bass), and Rob Connolly (vocals, guitar) were on a search for a new sound. After expanding their musical influences and the addition of a new lead guitarist, Brandon Campana, they found that they didn’t want to pin themselves down to one genre or style but instead to see where their musical abilities and tastes would take them.”
Around Christmas of 2013, the Double Negatives were formed, and before long they had a full album’s worth of songs and were booking shows in the spring of 2014, then in April of 2014 tragedy struck the band. Good friend and drummer, Mikey, passed away from a rare disorder called HLH. The group questioned if they should continue music or just move on. It didn’t take long to realize that they should continue with music; not just for the band, but for the memory of a brother and bandmate.
So over the next year as they went different ways, some to college, some to travel or work, they came back in the spring of 2015 with a newly restored desire to create and reach people with their music. Over the summer the band started preparing music; some older songs, some new. They continued to produce but were still stuck without a new drummer. Jump to late December of 2015 where the band obtained two new additions: one, longtime friend and photographer, Dan O’Hara, who came and started helping not only with the group’s photos and videos but also picked up on rhythm guitar and keys, and two, they found their drummer in new friend Kevin McDaniel. Suddenly the project came to light as a five-piece.
On January 1, 2016, Double Negatives’ new lineup was born, and not a week later the band had already played shows and recorded a demo. Now in August 2016 they have played everywhere from Connecticut to Cape May and New York to Asbury Park, as well as recorded a new EP, filmed a music video and gained a loyal fan base.
The new EP came to light with the help and hard work of friend and mentor Michael Engesser of Rock Solid Productions, whom they plan to work with again on their follow-up EP. Titled Visions From A Stranger, the disc is a finely crafted grouping of the band’s best sounds. I took a listen and here’s what I came up with.
The disc kicks off with a song called “We Pretend.” The band is tight, toned and talented beyond most South Jersey reputations. Featuring a reggae-style intro, the band drops into their specific brand of bopping, Island riffage as singer Rob Connelly unleashes his clear, powerful voice that’s reminiscent of a cross between Freddie Mercury and Russell Mael from Sparks. Backing vocals are seamless and smooth and when the chorus kicks in the song focuses and shines. Guitar work in the chorus is also vital and helps this song stand way out in front of the pack. Synth work blends with top-notch rhythm work as well.
Up next is “I Am.” With a combination of ’80s pop feel and sonic rock qualities of a bevy of prog rock darlings, the song rolls into its first verse and shows off a strong rhythm section and tons of great guitar-driven sounds. Once again, Connelly roars into the chorus with a zeal not demonstrated by many. Strong, seasoned and addictive, “I Am” does what it should do. Motivating the listener to feel what they’re doing, Double Negatives churn out gratifying rock and roll perfection. The background ooh’s and ah’s are finely crafted and mix perfectly with a flurry of lead guitar virtuosity. One thing that strikes me strong about this disc is the quality of the recording and its parts. Sharp, clean and precise, the record makes its statement without clutter or unnecessary musical rhetoric.
“Visions” is next and utilizes intelligent guitars, bass, drums, cellos and synths to launch its message. The band is correct when it states that genre and style are open to interpretation, and this song sings in its special way. Guitars jag and grind as Connelly moves throughout the vocal register in his quest for lyrical delivery. His skill at going from full vocal attack to falsetto and back is a thing to listen to with great respect. Halley Feaster wields talented Cello and Violin work throughout the piece. This is indeed a band with much to say in a way that makes complete sense. I especially love the vocal outro attack that blends an almost 1950s sound with vocal accompaniment.
The band turns into another exciting direction on “College.” Mixing an alternative feel with an old-fashioned ode to traditional rock and roll action, Connelly and crew explore the topic of our American education journey. The band churns and writhes through complex changes and satisfying musical gymnastics as Connelly lays raw, raspy vocals over the top of the piece. Michael Engesser’s organ work is spot on here also. If you like older Blink-182 and proper Offspring, you’re going to love this band.
“Stranger” is the last song and to me, it’s the absolute best. Brandon Capana’s guitar work is astronomically fantastic throughout and he really sings along with the rest of the band here. Connelly sings like a champ throughout the entire disc, but he shines on this song. Running the gamut between bluesy snarls and straight-ahead rock and roll screams, he is one of the most underrated singers that’s I’ve ever known. McDaniel’s drum work and Dimitri Almeyda’s bass work are flawless and unstoppable. Halley Feaster once again adds impeccable cello and/or violin work also. The melodic function of these songs is quite addictive. While the band not only shies away from the standard Americana/rock sounds that permeate the state, they definitely deliver engaging and highly listenable music to their fans. At around 2:48 into the song, they change direction and stomp into their last rapture-filled chorus. Connelly wails it out and into the end with a presence that only he could deliver. Dan O’Hara ably assists on keyboards and guitars as well. Special kudos goes out to all band members for their outstanding backing vocal tracks.
If you’re looking for a band that has something to say in a way that not every Tom, Dick, and Harry are saying it, then you owe it to yourself to check out Double Negatives.
You’ll get the chance to hear them for yourselves on September 24 as they make their way to The Saint in Asbury Park. For more information on Double Negatives and their newest EP, Visions From A Stranger, head over to therealdoublenegatives.bandcamp.com/album/visions-from-a-stranger and be sure to check them out on Facebook as well.