Photographers: Marc Dantona; Eric Burstyn.
Playing sunshine pop for an overcast day, the Sandwitches provide the ideal soundtrack for a sad and beautiful world on their third full-length release, 2015's Our Toast. Winding spare but lovely folk-tinged melodies around indie rock guitar figures and ethereal vocals, the Sandwitches do a masterful job of creating more out of less; these performances are built around minimal frameworks, but Grace Cooper and Heidi Alexander's vocals conjure an impressive range of world-weary emotions with their rough but quietly passionate delivery, and the low-key arrangements are the perfect match for the voices, giving them just the right support without taking up more space than necessary. And while most of these songs feel comfortably sad, there's a sweetness and lack of guile in the delivery that somehow makes Our Toast sound optimistic in spite of it all, especially on the girl group-influenced "Miggy" and the opener "Sunny Side," which plays like a hipster update of the Carter Family. There are moments when Our Toast is so subdued it threatens to curl up and fall asleep (especially on the slightly shambling "Island Jam"), but despite the tempos being slow and the technique casual, the emotions behind this music are strong and easy to follow, and when Cooper and Alexander join their voices with drummer Roxy Brodeur, the effect is bigger than one might expect and fully capable of tugging on the heartstrings. The spontaneous texture of the Sandwitches may feel a bit rough, but there's plenty of beauty here if you're willing to dig beneath the surface, and Our Toast shows that indie rock without overwhelming irony has finally become a reality, and it's good to have around. ~ Mark Deming