In honor of my trip to New York City, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s artist feature to a New York band based in Brooklyn, Mainland. This group of guys never fail to surprise me. The first was when they opened for Marianas Trench. Jordan’s vocals for the bridge in “Fading Friends” completely caught me off guard. I remember contemplating with my friend during their first set about whether they were a pop rock or actual rock band. One thing was for sure, though. They were some of the funniest and nicest musicians I had ever met. They cracked the most innocent yet coy jokes at their merch table, and we even ran into each other again just walking around the city hours after the concert had ended.
Mainland’s first EP, Shiner, gets its title from the Texas beer and brewery. The band actually recorded this EP in Austin, TX; so it’s a treat to return the favor by writing about the Texas made EP while in New York City. The 13 minutes start off strong and heavy with powerful electric guitars that aren’t afraid to be in the spotlight. It continues more or less in this manner, keeping the mood lifted and the lyrics bittersweet with lines like “…a boy down a wishing well, it’s hard to tell if my fate is something to rely on.” As a listener, you wouldn’t guess that the inspiration of these tracks were spontaneously going on tour after the death of lead singer’s, Jordan Topf’s, father. Instead, what comes out is their passion and desire to stand out in the world as musicians with something new to say.
This conversation continues in the follow up EP, Outcast. Its title holds up to the contents of the new EP. Lyrics speak of escaping shallow friends and going after their dreams. In some ways the band returns with a more pop feel. The melodies have less grit in them, and the choruses are catchier. Fortunately, the last half sounds more familiar. “Fading Friends” and “Not As Cool As Me” are unapologetic and bold in their anthems.
In the past couple years, Mainland has released a total of five different singles. Aside from some promo visuals, there isn’t much tying them all together. “Beggars” is definitely more on the pop side, but the lyrics are so captivating, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the story they tell of striving after your art in the city that never sleeps. It’s hard not to be inspired as his singing reminds us to “don’t stop, don’t give up” and that God’s on our side “from time to time.” Another pop song is “Empty Promises.” This one also happens to showcase Jordan’s amazing vocal range as he goes from melodic and soothing tones to a nice gritty yell. Another notable single is “Dummy Test.” It has an early demo feel to it that is stripped from production, leaving the instruments raw and forced to fend for themselves throughout the track. It’s a refreshing sound after a lot of the other singles they have put out like “I Found God” and “Permission Slip,” which are a bit redundant and over produced in my opinion.
Mainland only had a couple of EPs out on Spotify when I first discovered them. Since then, they’ve released an array of singles that seem to all stand independently from the last. It will be interesting to hear how they are compiled into a final album. It seems like the story they’ll tell through it will be full of twists and turns. How do you think their latest album will turn out? Let me know in the comments!