Locals: The Candescents burn bright on debut EP

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Both the title of the Candescents' debut EP Bedheads and the circumstances surrounding its recording - the five-track effort was laid to tape between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. on a pair of winter days at a Mershon Center studio on the Ohio State campus - might lead prospective listeners to believe they're settling in for a sleepy listen. This is absolutely not the case.

"[After the session] we'd wake up our drummer like, 'Good morning.' Then you walk out [of the studio], and it's like you've never seen the sun before, and you're just so tired," said frontman Alex Harris, who will join bandmates Miguel Acero III and Alex and Cody von Lehmden for an album release show at Spacebar on Tuesday, Aug. 4. "But [the music] sort of sounds the opposite. It's really fast and young, like when you get to that point of tired where you're just sort of manic."

Songs, in turn, bound along on scrappy guitars, restless drums and Harris' malleable vocals, which slip comfortably between the more melodic passages driving the loosely psychedelic "Back of Your Hand" and the scruffy "Decadence," where his periodic screams crackle like an electric wire stripped of its protective covering.

The Candescents, like this week's hospital newborns, first came into existence roughly nine months ago after the musicians connected at an Ohio State dormitory - even though Harris attended Ohio University at the time - and started bonding over bands like the Strokes.

"We would show people the first song we made and they'd be like, 'Yeah, we really like this. This sounds exactly like the Strokes and Oberhofer,'" said Harris, 20, who started playing guitar in high school after his grandmother gifted him with a "ridiculously nice" acoustic. "But even on the first song we made, it was like, 'There's something in here that I've never heard before, buried under all these obvious influences.' We just got better at [stripping those away] and figuring out what music we wanted to make."

For the spotlight-shy Harris, this steady evolution included learning to embrace his role as frontman - a guise he's finally developed some comfort inhabiting.

"When we first started I switched to just singing, instead of singing and playing guitar like I had in previous bands, and it was pretty unbelievably uncomfortable," he said. "It was like, 'What have my arms done for my entire life? How do normal humans stand properly?' I was suddenly very aware of everything. Now I'm playing guitar again while singing, so things are much better."


8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4

2590 N. High St., Old North


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