About The Armoires
“The dozen tracks on Incidental Lightshow – sometimes haunting, sometimes joyous, always well-crafted and memorable – prove that the band certainly transcends any labels that folks may try to pin on them. The Armoires’ sonic approach is multi-faceted and difcult to pigeonhole.”
-John Borack, Goldmine Magazine
The first thing that strikes you about The Armoires is the sound: irrepressible co-ed harmonies, sparkling 12-string guitars and keys, plaintive viola weaving through every tune, and the urgent drive of the rhythm section. Their debut album Incidental Lightshow and respected live performances hum with that energy, but the band quickly reveal themselves to be all about the songs.
“The songs are stories,” says guitarist Rex Broome of the Burbank, CA power pop band. “Whether they’re dreamlike or straightforward, they always revolve around some kind of narrative, and above all, characters. The way Christina and I sing together allows us to bring those characters to life. The New Pornographers are a big inspiration in that sense. Fleetwood Mac and X both did it brilliantly- digging into multiple perspectives within a single song. That’s the starting point for The Armoires.”
The unique harmonies of Broome and keyboardist Christina Bulbenko form the thread holding the songs together within the band’s sophisticated but exuberant variation on the power pop blueprint, rooted in a blend of West Coast and English psychedelia, but utterly timeless. Touches of new wave, shoegazer dreampop and classic country broaden the pallet still further. Bringing the stories to life on stage are Christina’s daughter Larysa on viola, multi-instrumentalist Nate Myer, and Broome’s longtime collaborators Derek Hanna (drums) and Clifford Ulrich (bass, vocals).
The eclecticism and emotive core of the band’s songbook are reflected by its name. “I imagined this quirky, lovingly crafted but battered piece of furniture. Anything could be inside. Old Halloween costumes, clothes that don’t quite fit anymore, boxes filled with old ticket stubs and mementos. Anything the people in our lyrics might cherish, but not have the strength to deal with day to day,” explains Bulbenko. “Our songs are the moments of revery when they open the armoire and delve into the memories they haven’t quite processed, the forgotten joys and suppressed tragedies.”
She speaks from her heart. The Armoires blossomed into a full band with the help of Christina’s son Ian, the band’s original drummer, who passed away tragically the day after The Armoires’ debut show. Moving forward with the music has proven to be the only way of coping with his loss. Three of Ian’s performances are preserved on Incidental Lightshow, and the band’s tribute to him, “Playing with the Lights”, is the centerpiece of their live sets and the album.
Since that first show, The Armoires have never slowed down, performing regularly in their native Southern California and touring ever farther afield, garnering international airplay and warm reviews. Performances at the International Pop Overthrow Festival in San Diego, LA, San Francisco, and Arizona– where they also served as the backing band for rising star Cait Brennan– and whirlwind tours of the UK and California have put the band in their proper context as passionate keepers of the flame of melody, harmony and storytelling in rock and roll.
Wishing to give back to the power pop community which has embraced them, Rex and Christina have created a monthly showcase for like-minded bands and fans at the California Institute of Abnormalarts in North Hollywood. Big Stir: Power Pop and More at CIA has seen The Armoires hosting such scene luminaries as Maple Mars, The Cherry Bluestorms, and Plasticsoul, and again backing Cait Brennan. The series is fast becoming a destination for those seeking a night of jangly and harmony-laden rock, and it personifies the band’s perhaps foolhardy approach of heart, soul, community and family over commercialism and networking.
The Armoires have finally, somewhat to their own surprise, arrived. In the spring of 2016, the band joined the roster of Brennan’s Black Market Glamour imprint just as they completed Incidental Lightshow and prepared for further touring. “We didn’t know how to start, and we didn’t know if we could go on after losing Ian,” says Christina. “In the end we had to. And now we’ve found ourselves welcomed into this beautiful community of amazing musicians and songwriters who get what we were trying to do all along. We’re flabbergasted, humbled, and happy to be home.”
Incidental Lightshow is available now on Black Market Glamour. The Armoires perform monthly at their Big Stir concert series and elsewhere.
“The Armoires reveal a great big musical world with the haunting heartfelt harmonic convergence of this eclectic power pop diary.”
– Ken Ostrander, WUVT, Virginia
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