As we all return to State College rested from break (that went quick didn’t it?) and ready for spring semester, now is the perfect time to expand your music library. While there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013, we can’t overlook the late 2012 releases. Today, we’re taking a look at the local State College folk band Free Rollercoaster, who just released their debut EP, The Plaid Part of Town.
Local music lovers have seen this band around the State College bar scene for a while. Formed in 2010 by Penn State students Blake Gifford, Ricky Lynch, and D.J. Suckanik, the trio picked up a range of instruments including acoustic guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, accordion keys, and percussion to create a sound they describe as “folky acoustic ukulele German pop”.
After listening to the first few tracks of The Plaid Part of Town EP, the first thing that came to mind was “wow, this sounds like Mumford & Sons.” They certainly caught onto the M&S style of melodic, danceable vocals over folk instrumentation. The opener, Pearly Gates stands out with its catchy vocal and bluesy melody. But there are certainly some unique influences that set them apart from most pop-folk bands. Foremost is the German accordion, which is most prevalent in The Architect’s Burden. The Man Who Waits even has some Jethro Tull-inspired flute parts.
Overall, this is a really solid debut EP. Most of the songs are really catchy, and could honestly be mainstream hits, especially with the current trend of popular folk bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. But the German folk accordion kind of holds it back in my opinion — from being mainstream, not from being good. This is cool music that you may not hear on the radio, but is still awesome for the local bar scene.
The album can be streamed or downloaded for free from the Free Rollercoaster bandcamp page. Here’s a video of their catchy tune, Pearly Gates.