By: Davey Barrett
At the close of a recent show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Jocelyn Mackenzie of Brooklyn-based band Pearl and the Beard held a screen-printed poster before a stupefied, packed house. Foregoing the disposable medium of CDs or LPs, the band employs the poster as the only tangible key to the band's "Prodigal Daughter Extended Single" release.
"The music industry has changed and a new model needs to be discovered to get a band's message across," Mackenzie announced. "The way that made sense for us to communicate with you was through art instead of shiny silver disks, which we throw out, or at least I do. So you can buy our single as a poster or a postcard with a download card on the back." Merging design with music, the poster and postcard, designed by Jonathan Schoeck (of the band Larcenist), aptly match the overall aesthetic of the Prodigal Daughter Extended Single.
Baroque inflections, gospel sensationalizing and mirthy back-room jazz mark the band's character and, even in moments of darker introspection, an underbelly of clever wit shines through their performances. A brightly lit traipse across style and content, Pearl and the Beard's music reflects the work of three songwriters: Mackenzie, Emily Hope Price and Jeremy Styles. All three members sing, accompanied by guitar, cello, glockenspiel and melodica, among others. Contagious hooks cross both belting vocals and dynamic cadence. The Extended Single itself contains one solo track from each of the three artists, drawing into relief each of their strengths.
The melancholic drone of indie rock today hints that music need not be an enjoyable experience, that thoughts and lyrics must be heavy in order to carry weight. Pearl and the Beard refutes this, imploring the audience to "Enjoy yourself, because we certainly are."
With an innovative packaging strategy, an opening slot on the current Ani DiFranco and upcoming Ingrid Michaelson tours, Pearl and the Beard is poised for an increasing wave of attention. Check out their recently debuted music video for "Prodigal Daughter" and get the full Extended Single here.