Formed originally in 2007 as a group of Special Education teachers in Oakland banging out stress on drums and dulcimer, The New Thoreaus have maintained their original style while broadening their appeal through more traditional bluegrass and jazz instruments. An indie-folk band with a bluegrass bent, The New Thoreaus provide a “modern spin on old-timey folk and bluegrass,” according to the East Bay Express. “The Cello, upright bass, and trumpet lend the songs a baroque feel that’s similar to Beirut, while the harmonica and finger-picked banjo keep it firmly in Americana…When they blend in rich vocal harmonies, it’s akin to an alt-country Broken Social Scene.” (EBX)
The New Thoreaus influences range from The Decemberists, Bon Iver, and Biz Markee to Gillian Welch, The Band, and The Grateful Dead. “The music is really about making interesting sounds,” says Chris Bloomfield, one of the band’s primary songwriters. “We all learned to play together, so when we’re working on a new song, a lot of it is about testing our boundaries and figuring out how to make sounds on the edge of beautiful and uncomfortable.”
Their debut album, Neon Americana, was released in February 2013 to positive reviews. It is currently spinning on folk radio stations around the country. “The New Thoreaus are one of the few bands that can appeal to a crowd full of traditionalists AND folks who like a little something different,” says Mike Bond of Mutiny Radio’s The Bottleneck Cafe Radio Show. “Think Tom Waits meets NOLA’s Preservation Hall Jazz Band.”
Their songs range from dark and sultry tales of greed and capitalism gone awry, to murder ballads, dreamy lullabies, gospel inspired tunes, and straight ahead rock and roll. Their range of styles and singers lends their music a hard to define quality that defies easy classification.