Budding rock stars, pay attention: Blondfire just might be what the future of the music industry looks like. Erica and Bruce Driscoll, the siblings at the heart of the band, are young, smart, attractive and international — in short, everything a big label dreams of. Oh yeah, and they rock, too.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered that they haven’t been signed by a major label. They put out their debut EP, “Don’t Whisper Lies” on their own label, Wax Divine, and have been touring ever since, building a loyal following across the country.
And what of the music? Blondfire delivers a power pop sound that is sensual, unique, rocking, at times ethereal but always engaging.
They charge right out the gates with “L-L-Love,” a guitar and percussion heavy love anthem full of sugary, slinky lyrics. The hypnotic sensuality of Erica’s vocals, with just a hint of flirtation, carries the track – indeed, the album – through a few lyrical rough patches. “Weightless” follows up a little stronger with a perfect amount of twang and sturdier, more longing lyrics.
With the track “Don’t Whisper Lies,” Blondfire mellows out into a delicious lounge sound, with the duo’s strongest hint at their international roots. Children of an American father (who “still rocks some Credence,” Bruce assured me) and Brazilian mother, Blondfire comes by their worldly sound honestly, blending electronica melodies, rock chords and samba-like rhythms. “Right Where I Want You” finishes the EP with a perfect pop ballad that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
The addition of Ze Luis Oliveira to the mix certainly helped the two find their sound, they said. Ze Luis is renowned for his work as an arranger and with vocalists like Bebel Gilberto, a sound that has clearly influenced Erica. Listeners expecting Stan Getz-like cool jazz, consider yourselves forewarned, this isn’t simply a rehash of “The Girl from Ipanema.” Even though Erica’s vocals hint at her Brazilian roots, the sound the two have crafted is unique.
Even though Blondfire has charted their own course so far, flying solo isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. While there’s plenty of freedom in self-producing an album, Bruce said they miss some of the amenities that come with a major label. Money and studio time, for one, since “Don’t Whisper Lies” was produced mostly using their credit cards. “Every time someone buys an album,” Erica said, “we’re essentially paying ourselves back.”
The duo recently discovered another nicety of major representation: lawyers. Before they took on the moniker Blondfire, the Driscolls were actually known as Astaire, a name they said they still love. Unfortunately, the late Fred Astaire’s estate was none too pleased with the unintentional homage and sicced their lawyers on the rockers. Fearing mounting legal fees, even if the trademark claim was tenuous, the two agreed to find a new name and continue doing what they do best.
They’re now poised to make their ascent to rock stardom, assuming they can remind all of their fans that they’re the same band with a new name. They’ve really taken to the Internet, with the requisite MySpace site and heavy promotion from iTunes. When they were recently featured as the iTunes free artist of the day, they were downloaded more times than any previous band and were the first unsigned group to reach the top 10 on iTunes’ top album charts. They recently recorded an iTunes-only acoustic set and have been incredibly happy in the brave new world of Internet-only distribution. Here’s to the future of self-made pop bliss.
For more information about Blondfire, visit http://www.astairemusic.com/site.html.