After an amicable split with guitarist Jorge Gonzalez earlier this spring, the remaining members of the Brand were briefly in a state of limbo. Not the type to amble too long and realizing the confinements of performing as a duo, they were forced to take their sound back to the drawing board. So they recruited Leo Valencia on the bass and Bianca Pupo on synths. Omar Garcia continues to front the vocals whilst commandeering the lead guitar, and Juan Oña helms the rhythm's drums and percussion.
Grenadine, slated for release early this August, aptly displays the path the Brand is pursuing. While the overall sound maintains the saccharine bliss of the group's first effort without overtly delving into bubblegum, new philosophies have crept in. "Screaming Hearts" is four minutes of New Wave/electroclash exploration. The subtle Casio tones of "Foiled" are reminiscent of Mates of State and Rilo Kiley. "Smiling, Crying," a track from their self-titled debut EP, has been revisited with a bluegrass/roots mentality, and they put on a fine show of their abilities, chemistry, and versatility as a unit.
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Other tracks from the first EP ("X-mas Day" and "Go Go") have been retinkered with new instrumentation. There's even a little of the late Seventies New Wave mastery of the Cichlids, Hialeah's first pop punk band. This is the solid sophomore effort that will put the Brand and its hometown back on the map, and it's so sweet, diabetics need not apply. -- Abel Folgar