Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, hello and welcome back to our third annual year-end daily countdown, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Follow the #100Bands100Days hashtag on Twitter to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician that perhaps you haven’t been turned onto yet, and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. For today’s local music spotlight, we’re taking our journey to the land of Eugene, Oregon to take a look at an unlikely duo that happens to make some of the most captivating music in the whole state, Loftän!
Julia Mahncke and Janell Riedl, aka Loftän, began their musical collaboration after a chance meeting last year. The two quickly bonded over their shared interest in music, and soon found their musical sensibilities perfectly complimented one another. Despite Mahncke being native to Germany, and Riedl being local to Oregon, the duo’s music has reached a crossroads that feels both natural and extremely refreshing. As a singer-songwriter pair, the music of Loftän hearkens back to a time not so long ago, namely the early-to-mid-2000s, when we saw a lot of indie singer-songwriters rising to mainstream popularity through music that was catchy and succinctly written, but had a certain artsy, classy flair that made them unique and adored standouts. Mixing elements of downtempo and indie rock with dream pop and art pop, Riedl and Mahncke make electroacoustic music that feels poppy in nature, but has a beautifully vivid sound that you don’t hear every day. When listening to a Loftän track, the first thing you’ll likely be drawn to are the warm vocal harmonies from Julia and Janell, as well as the very sensual acoustic guitar that usually sits at the forefront of the duo’s music, which is often given either reverb or digital delay for more of an off-kilter tone.
A year after their formation, Loftän came through with their debut release, the From Here EP, released independently this past July. While you might expect the first ever release from a relatively new band to feel a bit rough-around-the-edges and not fully realized, From Here is a skilled and effective first release for the duo. On the four tracks that make up this EP, you’ll fall in love with the melodies on display throughout the release, and those of you listening a bit more attentively will no doubt find a lot of detail to be impressed by across the EP. Although the radio-friendly, acoustic guitar-led feel of the music may lead some listeners to find it just to be some modern-day adult alternative music, a lot of the drum beats on this album feel right out of the downtempo playbook (think Air or Zero 7), and the swing of these beats makes it easy to groove along to these songs while being equally wrapped up in the pleasant vocals and instrumentation. “Mystery Blue” is the biggest surprise in the track listing, which forgoes the folk-pop feel of the previous tracks and goes for more of an indietronica vibe, with sparse instrumental accompaniment and odd drum machine beats that sound really futuristic and weird when listening with over-ear headphones. Elements like these highlight Loftän’s best quality, and that’s their ability to surprise the listener and do things that wouldn’t typically be expected of them.
Those of you in the market for music that has organic, acoustic instrumentation, but isn’t afraid to dabble in the wide world of electronic music every now and again, don’t skip out on Loftän; they’re doing some really interesting things.