Maria Mar’s Local Radar: The Places You’ve Been

It’s Wednesday, my favorite day of the week. I’ve found out about so many amazing bands that I cannot wait to indulge into in the last few weeks of 2013. This has been a great year in the local music scene, as Lost In Society got to open up for Taking Back Sunday, Toothgrinder went out to Hollywood to play for Sumerian Records, Empire Escorts went on a mini-stint with The Pretty Reckless, and The Front Bottoms went on tour with Manchester Orchestra. I mean, these are just a few isolated incidents that truly solidify how strong our local talent pool is here in New Jersey. And hell, I may not play an instrument, but I am proud to be an active member of this awesome musical community. However, as much as I could sit here and boast all day, it’s time to dedicate the spotlight to another local act that is making a splash. They are a little different from what I am used to writing about, but in a complimentary way. Two people, an acoustic sound, and a whole lot of talent, which makes up a band called The Places You’ve Been. Want to learn more about them? Well, let’s proceed!

The Places You’ve Been are an acoustic rock duo from Brick, NJ with members Brandon Kiefer and Jed Moran. First off, I always have a strong respect for artists who play acoustically, because you really have to have solid talent without an entire band backing you up. I found out about these guys a little while back, but was pleasantly surprised when they resurfaced on my Jersey Rock fan page with their music posted (just goes to show that I check what you post, friends!).

At the end of the day, us music buffs want good songs with crisp melodies, and that’s exactly what these two deliver. I don’t know too much about the history of the group, but with such beautiful tones and simple, minimal instrumentation sounding this great, it certainly can’t be a fluke. I also read on their socials that they used to have a drummer, which I found extremely interesting, for they are just as good (if not better) without one.

Brandon’s voice is extremely pleasing to the ear. He is fully aware of his range, and never tries to outdo himself, perfecting the pitch he was meant to put out. He is truly a joy to listen to. It’s simple and pleasant, and at times, can be addictive. Not to say I am putting out any comparisons here, but you know when you sometimes just want to turn down the lights and chill? This is the voice, for he isn’t just singing—he is right there with you. Jed is also an extremely talented musician, and I really like listening to him play, as I can only imagine how hard he would shred if they weren’t acoustic!

The first track I embellished in is called “Convivial.” I highly recommend you sit down on the couch and pour a glass of wine to this one. It’s amazing how it’s so mellow yet extremely upbeat at the same time (you will understand what I mean when listening). This tune is far from pretentious, and that is indeed what attracted me to it. While the sound might be simple, the songwriting is not. I love the lyrics on this one and feel that anyone could apply them to a situation they are going through in life, whether good or bad. Brandon does a nice job delivering the vibe on this song as well, allowing you to create your own story.

I then dove into the amazing track that is “The Making Of A Ghost.” This one is definitely more stripped down and a lot slower and not as perky, yet still has that amazing “backyard campfire” feel to it. It really allows you to see the talent Brandon and Jed have here. After a few listens, I found myself asking the question, “How can such a seemingly simple, barely instrumented song sound so compelling and engrossing?” Well, the answer is simple: because they make it that way. There is something about the sincerity of these two musicians in their young hearts and souls that shines through in their music. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know them on a personal level by any means, but it’s totally prevalent to the listener. I also cannot forget about the track “Sorrow,” which I highly recommend you watch the YouTube video for. It was recorded at an open mic night, so you really get that whole raw, live feel of how talented they are. Pick up their record and enjoy this band for its entirety.

The Places You’ve Been are one of the few acoustic groups to hold my attention from the get-go. I must admit that a lot of females may mindlessly throw themselves at them, falling in love with their lyrics, which is sometimes why I hate groups of this style. The reason is actually because these dudes really have talent and believable personalities; they are singers, musicians, and songwriters. As stated previously, I don’t know much about these two, or whether this project is for fun or long-term, but either way, I hope they continue. They recently played a show to help end hunger, so hopefully they will be posting some more tour dates soon!

Be sure to follow The Places You’ve Been on Facebook, Twitter and ReverbNation. I will be back next week with another local band of your liking, and hopefully see you all at some shows. Hey, after all, we spotlight everything here from metal and indie to pop, rock, acoustic, cover bands, and more! All that is local is for me!