With a captivated crowd singing along to every word, the LA-based alternative band, The Neighbourhood, feeds off the energy of the packed, sold out ballroom in Portland, Oregon. The band’s atmospheric, R&B-infused, indie rock has garnered increasing attention since the release of their first EP, I’m Sorry…, in 2012.
Now there’s more on the way on their second full-length album, Wiped Out!, arriving October 30.
Their popularity has grown with each release. Now with a total of three EPs, two full length albums, and one mixtape, they are drawing crowds to sold out shows and it is easy to see why.
“We did the second half of the album at my mom’s house.”
Though its members cite classic rock and pop influences, The Neighbourhood has crafted a genre-bending style all their own. “It’s hard to put a finger on one style or influence,” lead guitarist Zach Abels says. “We like to mess around with different styles of production. If it feels right for the song that we’re doing, then we will do it.”
Trying to put a specific genre label on their style is a difficult task. The band loosely describes their music as alternative rock. Elements of surf rock, R&B, and atmospheric indie-rock surface throughout their sound. While remaining recognizable to their fans, they experiment with new sounds on each release. A few consistent themes persist in their music; a predilection for older instruments is one of them. “You can hear the difference. It’s truly just better.” Abels insists, speaking with genuine enthusiasm about the ‘70s Rickenbacker that bassist Mikey Margott just bought.
Writing and recording locales shine through in their songwriting. Overlooking the beach in Malibu, the band spent three months seeking out inspiration, experimenting with their sound, and recording. It was there that they collected recordings of the beach and its surrounding wildlife to use on various tracks on their second full-length album. The same influences creep through on the single “Prey,” which embraces a more surf-rock vibe than their previous music.
“We also did the second half of the album at my mom’s house, where we originally wrote Sweater Weather and our EP,” Abels recalls. “That was where we got started.” The second half of Wiped Out! bears these marks, especially the single “R.I.P. 2 My Youth”, recorded in the familiar style that made listeners first love the band.
“We have progressed a lot since our first EP,” Abels says, “The Neighbourhood was our first band for most of us.”
“It’s hard to put a finger on one style or influence.”
Before the show, the band can be found in a back room collaborating and writing new music while testing out beats on a handheld Korg drum machine. They each jump in to contribute: a melody, a chord progression, a beat. Every band member shapes the sound.
When they’re not writing, they lounge around on couches, sharing YouTube videos and showing off their thrift store finds from earlier that day. This relaxed environment seems to translate to their collected, smooth and confident performance later that night.
Meanwhile, fans are eagerly waiting in a line starting at the door, stretching around the entire city block, almost back to the front door again. “How many of you have been with us since the beginning?” frontman Jesse Rutherford asks early on in the set. Hundreds of energetic fans cheer.
A mix of old, black and white film and high-contrast graphics play in the background throughout the set evoking hazy feelings of brooding nostalgia. Elements of old and new, like the band’s myriad styles, mash together for a complete and unforgettable performance.