Little Racer is a band from Brooklyn, NY consisting of vocalist/guitarist Elliot Michaud, guitarist Wade Michael, bassist Ish Nazmi and drummer Dave Tedeschi. They formed and released their eponymous single, “Little Racer” in 2010 and somehow the single managed to cross the ocean to the BBC and London imprint Young and Lost Club, which wound up releasing a 7″ single — “The Town”/”Split for the Coast” — in 2011.
When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty mind-blowing that a band from Brooklyn would end up signed to a label from London. I mean, there must be hundreds of insanely-talented bands from England looking for deals in London as we speak, so why would they bother to consider a band from here in the States? Suffice to say, it’s not something that happens every day. But Little Racer isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill American band. Quite the contrary, they’re a one-of-a-kind blend of old school NYC garage rock and sun-kissed California pop. A lo-fi, post rock version of The Beach Boys. Or a young Brian Wilson fronting The Gaslight Anthem, recording their first EP on a four track in a basement.
Speaking of EPs, Little Racer has just released its first, Modern Accent. And, boy, is it a winner. All six of its tracks shine in one way or another. Meaning, there are a lot of influences at play here, ensuring that no two songs sound quite alike.
Opener “Fake French” begins with a deep bass guitar groove, which continues throughout the song, easing its way into your ears painlessly. In fact, as soon as it reaches your brain, it tickles it in the most pleasurable way and proceeds to massage it long after the song is over. But, hey, that’s just one element of the song. It also sports infectious surf guitars and melodious vocals that seem to split the difference between the above-mentioned Brian Wilson and Buddy Holly. All of which can be said of the second track, “Vanessa,” although it would also seem to have a touch of Nirvana. It’s like a slowed down, sunshiny take on “In Bloom” as performed by REO Speedwagon. “If I get too close, if I draw too near…”
The decidedly uppity “Ghosty” is like a cross between early Green Day and ’60’s pop rock. “I can’t stay too long,” Michaud sings over and over, the song growing catchier each time. Here, there’s a long, smooth instrumental part, but Michaud’s vocals are especially raw, to a point that they’re almost scratchy. Perhaps to make them sound spectral?
Wonderful, thick and sweet bass guitar dominates the mix in a big way on “Fire Island,” just in case the massage it gave you during “Fake French” is starting to wear off. The only difference here? It’s an even higher dose of bass, guaranteed to elevate your mood. Major props to Ish Nazmi here.
Elsewhere, things get even better when we arrive at the best track in the bunch, “Dancing,” which sounds so very much like The Beach Boys that you’d swear it was a lost demo that just surfaced in Brian Wilson’s basement. “Do you want to go dancing? / Dancing in the street,” Michaud sings, gleefully. If the other songs on the EP have a touch of melancholy from all of that rainy Brooklyn weather, well, there’s no trace of it on this cut. This one just shines and shines for miles. If it doesn’t put a smile on your face, well, then you’re simply immune to the charms of great music.