In a city the size of NYC, it is impossible to keep track of every single up-and-coming band that resides in the Big Apple. Although I like to think that I hit enough live shows each week to stay on top of all the emerging local talent, the pop-rock quartet Normandy has yet to cross my path, that is until now.
Their self-released EP, Time I've Wasted, is a fun-filled romp through all the things that made Weezer, Pavement and The Rentals such an enjoyable listen in the '90s. The band is fronted by main songwriter Vincent Dee, who claims that Normandy was created due to the fact that the Shins did not change his life. I hate to break it to Dee, but he does share a pretty strong pop sensibility to with the Shins, although his own band prefers crunchier guitars and a much brisker tempo.
Their debut EP was self-produced, which gives it a charmingly lo-fi flavor. It doesn't sound underproduced, but on songs such as the opener "Time I've Wasted," the guitars get a tad distorted on the chorus. "Sweatshop" actually feels like a much more rockin' version of Belle & Sebastian in the beginning, with Dee's staccato vocal delivery and a sing-along melody. Once the guitars crash in, all thoughts of Belle are eliminated in an instant.
"Her Eyes Don't Water" is possibly the strongest track on the album, showing a greater use of dynamics using the quiet intro - loud chorus formula of indie pop. On this, the musicianship of the rest of the band is allowed to shine, with layers soaring vocal harmonies. This is one of those tracks that you'd swear you heard back during your Gen X college radio days. Normandy might not be breaking any new ground with their songs, but sometimes just being able to put a smile on your face is all you really need from a band.