We at Ear to the Ground get the rare honor to cover some of the best emerging artists from across the world. Like many great things though, we can sometimes take it for granted. The glimmer that once danced behind our eyes is subdued under the weight of spam emails and pushy PR sharks. If we’re not careful, we can so easily forget our first love – the passion for connecting great artists with great fans.
Perhaps aware of this, at the right time, the music gods send us passionate pleas in the form of soul-baring lyrics and crushing instrumentation. It is the universe’s eloquent appeal toward grit and continued engagement in all things beautiful, gently pouring out of our speakers.
Enter NYC based band Mainland. The boys have an incredible ability to write songs that will force listeners to reflect, recite, and most infectiously, respond. Recently they released one of the best EP’s that we have come across in recent memory, the four song gem Outcast. Fresh off touring with the likes of Atlas Genius, Marianas Trench, and a recent unlikely pairing with Jukebox the Ghost, the band is set for a big year as one of the breakout acts of ’16. “Its been a hell of a ride . . .the crowds have been reacting positively as they are getting to know the songs” mentions vocalist/guitarist Jordan Topf when I caught up with the guys in the basement of Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom. “Its new territory. We were use to two week tours and now (after jumping on the Jukebox tour) we are doing two months on the road which is a good experience for us to get use to,” adds Corey Mullee (guitar, synth). The band was contagiously positive despite the whirlwind of touring and buzz from outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Nylon, though they have had some strange experiences on tour. “I started sleepwalking . . .the drinking probably doesn’t help that” jokes bassist Alex Pitta.
The music of Mainland draws inspiration from new wave and 70’s and 80’s New York, while mentioning The Clash and The Killers as influences. They have a deep command of creating “catchy rock and roll songs” that are familiar, as much as they are creatively unique. Outcast was created from a life-long feeling of being an outsider as well as major events in the life of Jordan. “I lost my dad, graduated college, and went through a break up” he adds about the EP which was wrote in six months and produced by Kevin Augunas who has worked with Cold War Kids and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. “Not as Cool as Me” is the ultimate rock breakup song, while title track “Outcast” has found itself on a Spotify playlist with over a half a million followers. “Its surreal. We are next to bands like Kurt Vile and BORNS,” mentions Corey. “A Bit Out of Time” is a slow burning track that shows the range of the band and is a favorite to play live.
Mainland have a rare gift of pulling the audience close in a way that transcends musical preference. By the third song in their set, the crowd was clapping along and singing newly discovered lyrics that endeared the band to a few hundred fans. The guys are incredible engaging and thoughtful, while being some of the most genuine artists that we have had the privilege of covering. You cannot help but rooting for their brand of catchy lyrics and searing guitar, drums, and bass. They will be performing a few shows at SXSW before heading back home to continue their domination of the rock and roll landscape. Do yourself a favor, and pick up their extraordinary EP here. They are sure to refresh and remind you – like they did me – that great music is all around.