In the spring of 2008, the unassuming duo Oars (David Bratton and Earl Muehlenbach) began an intensive six months of recording, song crafting and experimentation in a closet-sized Greenpoint studio across the street from a fish-smoking plant. Relying on Bratton's perfectionistic ear for melody and orchestration and Muehlenbach's lyrics and sharp production skills, they composed meticulously.
The resulting self-titled album seamlessly weaves cunning pop melodies with cascades of home-grown beats, swirling keyboards and bright vocal harmonies built against shimmering walls of smart, soulful pop instrumentation. Guitar and bass are infused with surreal narrative, psychoanalysis, mutinous diatribe, horn blasts, hand claps, and hairpin turns of dense polyrhythms on this cornucopia of modern music influenced by David Bowie, Talking Heads, Studio One dub, Thelonious Monk, Fleetwood Mac, Mouse On Mars, and Stevie Wonder.
Live Oars shows find the duo accomplishing these sounds by switching instruments with drill team precision as Bratton commands guitars, horns, keyboards and percussion and Muehlenbach captains bass, guitar, synthesizers, samples and beats. The two share vocal duties to complete a sound that has drawn contemporary comparisons to such artists as The Knife, Holy Fuck, Prince, The Postal Service, Junior Boys, Pinback, and The Sea and Cake.
The ease with which Bratton and Muehlenbach compose and perform is owed to their long relationship. Originally connected amid the house parties and basement shows of Seattle's burgeoning DIY scene in the late 90s, the duo formed an avant-rock four-piece called Wimbledon. Like-minded musicians and artists began to gather around the band coalescing into Beep Repaired -- an underground art and music community.
Soon this collective of artists swelled to more than 30 bands and began hosting events, performing in larger Seattle clubs, gaining the attention of influential radio station KEXP and eventually releasing two Wimbledon records: Cumershl and the "Suck UP EP". When Wimbledon disbanded in 2005, Muehlenbach released a solo album as Plenty Face which was named "one of the best DIY albums of the year" by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer while Bratton toured and released EPs with his spaz-art project, Pomeranian. Two years later both men relocated to Brooklyn and began a new musical collaboration as Oars.