New Music

HEAR: The Umbrellas – “Three Cheers”

  • October 25, 2023
  • 5 min read
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HEAR: The Umbrellas – “Three Cheers”

The Umbrellas’ debut album was one of the surprise hits of an otherwise grim 2021. Channeling sold gold influences like The Pastels, Comet Gain, Orange Juice and The Aislers Set, The Umbrellas represent the fertile San Francisco Bay Area scene at its most pop-tastic. Following on from 3 sell-out pressings of their debut album and tours with everyone from labelmates Papercuts to Fucked Up, the band is now back with an absolute blinder of a sophomore album, a future greatest hits compilation bursting with brilliant pop moments.

Fairweather Friend is bigger in almost every way than their self-titled debut, featuring sterling songwriting and arranging, bigger and more nuanced production, and terrifically assured vocals all around. The Umbrellas leap forward with Fairweather Friend is reminiscent of similar growth that we saw with second albums from Veronica Falls, Allo Darlin’ and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart; while the concept remains consistent, the execution is bigger, bolder and ultimately even more satisfying. It’s always thrilling to see a young band swing for the fences and succeed, and we’re looking forward to hearing where The Umbrellas go next and watching Fairweather Friend enter the indiepop canon.

***
The Umbrellas are four renegade romantics crafting irresistible indiepop hymns. The band’s self-titled 2021 debut album was a breakout moment, winning critical praise and fueling tours with everyone from labelmates Papercuts to Fucked Up. Follow-up LP Fairweather Friend goes a step further – balancing the rambunctious sonic attack of their live shows with studio craft and finesse, allowing the San Francisco four-piece to become the band they’ve always aspired to be. 

It’s a record overflowing with highlights. The addictive, upbeat melodies of introductory track ‘Three Cheers!’ are matched to an impactful percussive punch; ‘Say What You Mean’ finds The Umbrellas working with total confidence, letting the song ride out to its chiming conclusion, four voices working in precision. ‘When You Find Out’ offers rotating notes of guitar punctuated by a vocal that pushes past angst to accept a world full of hope. A lean 10 track affair, it grasps towards beatific pop while fuelled by a sense of risk-taking and the precision that comes from long months on the road. 

The Umbrellas coalesced in 2018 around a group of musicians with connections to the legendary San Francisco record emporium Amoeba Music. Singer and guitarist Matt Ferrera had previous links with bassist Nick Oka, as well as the powerhouse drummer Keith Frerichs. A chance encounter with Morgan Stanley singing karaoke at a Fourth of July party cemented the line-up around an avowed thirst for melody. “All of us love really earnest pop songs,” Nick points out. “I guess we got to a point in our lives where we wanted to be genuine.” 

Playing shows at San Francisco’s vital DIY redoubt Hit Gallery, The Umbrellas would share line-ups with local heroes such as April Magazine and Cindy. Recording their debut album across a two-day spell at Matt’s parents’ house, the results won a devoted cult following. The experience of frequent touring bonded them tightly and allowed the volume to tick up a little higher (and higher…) and and feeding a desire for their next record to more closely mirror the energy of their live shows. “I think we got tired of people saying, oh you’re so much louder than I thought you’d be!” laughs Matt. “Our early recordings are sweet and earnest… and we wanted it to be louder.” 

Kicking off sessions in November 2022, the band used an ad hoc space Matt created in his basement, which allowed the sessions to be a little more relaxed in terms of timescale than their debut. “We gave ourselves more space for this album,” says Keith. “We wanted time to sit on the songs, and really work on them.” 

Capturing their thrilling live dynamic on tape, The Umbrellas are at once more physical and yet also more controlled on their new album. Take opening track ‘Three Cheers!’ – the peppy, sun-soaked rush masks a barbed lyric, courtesy of Nick Oka. “It’s a pseudo-political song about power struggles that occur in a job situation, or a friend group. It’s an observational song.” 

‘Toe The Line’ has an unkempt, rollicking sense of energy, the playful relationship analogy of the lyric pushed to the speed of light by Keith’s just-chaotic-enough punk drumming. ‘When You Find Out’ meanwhile epitomises their unified, egalitarian way of making music – with The Umbrellas, each voice counts. “It sounds different from any song we’ve ever written together,” says Morgan. “It shows how much we’ve grown. Trust helps us to build the songs. It’s definitely a team effort.” 

It’s also a record of ambition. ‘Say What You Mean’ stretches past the four-minute mark, the viola performance informed by Estonian minimalist composer Arvo Pärt. ‘Gone’ was the first song attempted for the new album, and the last they actually finished, endless re-writes transforming it into a manifesto of control and release. Taken as a whole Fairweather Friend is a bold indiepop triumph, crafted with purpose and attention. Taking their time over each note, the four-piece have strengthened their songwriting, adding depth and assurance while unlocking their potential. Some bonds last a lifetime – The Umbrellas are ready to capture your heart.
 

TOUR DATES:

12/9/23 – Felton, CA – Felton Music Hall *
12/11/23 – San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord *
12/12/23 – San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord *

* = w/ The Lemon Twigs

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Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. ChrisRyanNYC.com won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

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