Very occasionally, I find myself at a show with the express purpose of seeing one band and end up so blown away by an opening act I can’t even remember who I was actually there to see by the time I get home that night. To be exact it has happened three times during my three years with YabYum. With Tobie Milford, Monophonic Hillside, and, most recently, Bogan Via.
At their live performance I was taken aback by their sound, a merging place of chilling innocence and quirky charm. My mind set to work crafting elaborate Wes Anderson-style narratives of musical partnership forged in early childhood that I would later have to dispel during our interview… although both were drinking orange juice at half past five in the afternoon which I initially took for confirmation of all my ridiculous theories.
The duo that comprises Bogan Via is Bret Bender and Madeleine Miller. Same initials, I know, but they are not characters, they are actual people. I was confused too. Rather than spending their early years locked in a broom closet composing songs, Bender and Miller only joined forces nine short months ago. In that time they have recorded an EP and are working on their second, made their way around the Valley venue circuit, and signed to the label Common Wall Media. After spending time with their first EP and seeing them perform live, I’m not surprised in the least at the speed with which Bogan Via has ascended the rungs of the local music ladder.
Bogan Via’s recorded music and live performances offer differing aspects of their overall sound. Live, they seem wistful, sort of a sleepy indie pop pairing of sweet and serious that called to mind early Belle and Sebastian, in tone if not delivery. A stripped down simplicity pervades their songs, even when the occasional beat is added to their two person set-up. Their contrasting voices combined are all the texture that is needed.
On the five-track EP I left the show with, I found the music of Bogan Via a bit more baroque with the embellishments available in this electronic age. Their folksy live style gains a synthpop charge. From the opening track “Purple Catacomb” there is something ever-so-slightly funky about their music. The rich, orchestral layers of voice and instrumentation create an album of resounding beauty and fierce style.
“Being Light” might be my favorite track from the EP, not to be contrary to the die-hards who insist “Copy and Paste” is where it’s at. Madeleine’s voice achieves a certain luminosity at moments while Bret keeps her grounded. Once again, the sweet and the serious. “Afternoon Wonderland” provides the best example of their two voices in a totally fluid contradiction, the perfect complement to one another.
When considering these recordings were accomplished shortly after the group formed using Garage Band, I can only begin to imagine what listeners can expect from their forthcoming release. The six-song EP expected later this year will be recorded at Flying Blanket Studios with the illustrious Bob Hoag.
In addition to the EP slated for this fall, Common Wall Media also announced Bogan Via will be releasing a 7” split single with a remix B-side from Yus. The coming year promises to be exciting time for the newly forming fan base of Bogan Via.