The beauty of good art-rock and pop is that it often presents the best of many musical worlds. For those of us who love a good vocal hook, catchy choruses, and a certain immediacy that pop offers but still crave some amount of edge and compositional twists and turns to keep things from getting too simplistic or repetitive, it’s the sonic equivalent of having our cake and eating it too. That mixture of familiar and the unexpected are the things that make acts like St. Vincent or Bent Knee at their best so utterly engrossing, addictive, and fun. And for those who are fans of either of those two aforementioned groups/artists, here’s another to add to your rotation who will surely not disappoint: The New Tarot.
Led by sisters Karen and Monika Walker and elevated by a roster of great musicians behind them – currently Beth Callen on guitar, Dave Kahn on bass, Chas Langston on drums, and David Banker on trombone – The New Tarot represent pretty much everything that is great about art-rock and pop. Beholden to no particular genre, their music can shift between horn-filled funk grooves, shoegazey dream pop, brasher dance-punk, and more straight-ahead bluesy rock. That eclecticism can give their few releases (3 EPs and a smattering of singles) a bit of a mixtape feel occasionally, but they’re all anchored by a strong enough musical foundation and sound that it works. Furthermore, they seem to have a particular knack for making just about every song they put out sound like it could be a banger of a single.
The twin vocal attack of the Walker sisters in particular really seals the deal as their rich harmonies and range are able to perfectly shift to match whatever style or mode they’re playing in. Having just seen them play live recently (full disclosure: they were headlining a show my band played in Brooklyn last week), I can also say that they do not disappoint in the least outside of the studio. Their harmonies were airtight and lockstep with the instrumentals behind them. The only wrinkle in my recommending them is that they don’t seem to have a single place where I can easily link to or embed all of their music for further listening. They have most of everything up on their Soundcloud though as well as their website, most of their output appears to be on Spotify/Apple Music, and if you really want to follow and support them they also have a subscription service running through their Bandcamp. So, many options to choose from! Definitely a band to keep an eye on though and a great one to blast on a sunny day.