Local Music

Sirens & Sealions, Performing at Transit Lounge Tonight With Sam Friend

Sirens & Sealions is a troop of six sea creatures with a mission to spread a bright, feel-good sound throughout the city of Miami.

That's not my line. It's theirs. Now, I don't normally open with a quote (notice, I even ignored grammatical convention and ditched the bunny ears), but this one was too good to pass up. Further investigation reveals that those six are comprised of "a couple of sirens and a few groovy sealions."

Hell, I should just let them write this thing themselves.

Not only are they creative enough, but if you listen to this local indie folk-pop outfit, you'll learn for themselves that they're more than adept with a pen. The group, which is made up of Johanna Viscaino (song writer/vox), Chantal Meza (vox), Nicholas Deluca (guitar/vox), Matt Gajewski (second guitar), Gerry Felipe (bass), and Daniel Fernandez (keys/bells), writes songs that bear as much filled with meaning and purpose as they are toe-tapping fun.

"I song write for the band," explains Viscaino, "but play no instrument. So it's a continuous process of translating what I hear in my head into something comprehensible to the musicians."

Meanwhile, those musicians each have their own founts of inspiration, from Meza's penchant for happy sounds to Deluca's musical upbringing in punk bands, all of which contribute to S&S's sound.

"I had a friend call our music 'adult' the other day," Viscaino says. "She said it's refreshing to hear something clean and not just Miami punk or metal."

"Not to put those genres down because they are predominant 'til this day. But like my friend said 'refreshing' is what people look for at times."

Sirens & Sealions are nothing if not refreshing. Unique amongst Miami's local music landscape, they more closely resemble performers like Belle & Sebastian or Kimya Dawson. And their closest local sonic cousin would have to be Rachel Goodrich. But for all the campy bells and upbeat folky rhythms, there remain definite distinctions.

 Maybe it's the use of both male and female vocals in conjunction, a la the aforementioned Belle & Sebastian. Or perhaps it's a less pronounced tendency toward the playful dippiness that Goodrich basks in so completely. Whatever the case, they manage, quite effectively, to make themselves stand out even amongst other folk acts...which let's face it, aren't all that common in this town in the first place.

"Other people have used words like 'catchy, adorable, pleasant, happy'," Viscaino says. "And we aren't complaining, because the feedback is coming from a wide demographic. From our Coral Gables High fans (a school which none of the sirens or sealions are alumni of, making it very flattering) to the 40-somethings that hire us for private events at CAFEINA lounge and Kitchen&Bar in Wynwood."

"If there is any challenge it's managing 6 people's schedules to make the band exist," she explains, but adds, "all worth it though."

Sirens & Sealions with Sam Friend. Thursday, February 24. Transit Lounge, 729 SW 1 Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and there's no cover. Call 305-377-4628 or visit transitlounge.us.

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Christopher Lopez