The Occasion has been popping up more and more lately, predominantly as an opener for like-minded acts including Interpol, On! Air! Library, and Joan of Arc. The New York-based five-piece occupies the darker, moodier spaces and slower tempos of the indie-rock pallet, but they manage to inject the more muted elements of Pink Floyd and the murkier tones of the Velvet Underground — think “All Tomorrow’s Parties” — into the mix, melding slowcore and melody.
The vocals, shared by Brent Cordero, Jordi Wheeler and Charles Burst, are consistently haunting. Take the dark lyrics on opener “The Midwife”: “Your mother was a crippled heart/ lost her crutch in the dark/ crawled a mile too far.” Sounds like they’ve been catching up on their Smog. Later in the album, they bring layered harmonization to “A Dulcimer’s Fancy.”
Not to be pigeonholed, the Occasion does come up with some driving tracks. Kicking up the drums and crunchier guitar riffs make “I Can’t Stop Falling” closer to the Cure, and on “The Deserters” the band adds a repetitive keyboard and a quick, melancholy bass throb for a quick story of burying a corpse in the Mojave Desert. The highlight of this debut mini-album, which comprises eight tracks in about thirty minutes, may be the ten-minute closer, “Annika.” It’s a slow throbber that culminates in screeching guitar noise and tape loops.
Sure, it’s been said that younger bands are not going to create anything new, ’cause it’s all been done. It’s also been said that what bands can do is know and apply their influences. The Occasion makes a strong case for this, possibly the strongest since the bands they’ve been opening for did. Perhaps the Occasion will pass the torch soon.