Portage Brothers create hybrid sound

2013-11-06T19:45:00Z 2013-11-08T11:23:07Z Portage Brothers create hybrid soundTom Lounges nwitimes.com
November 06, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

Jef Sarver has been a regional singer/songwriter for decades whose name has appeared in this column many times over the years, during which time he has released a string of original music albums. His latest solo CD, “Eight,” is expected to be released in mid-December.

This week is the first time Jeremy Sarver gets his first splash of ink in The Local Scene, with a powerful new collection of songs collaborated on with brother Jef and aptly titled “Sarver 2” (or Sarver squared), which weaves together two distinct styles of music.

“It’s a real niche sound,” said Jeremy. “It’s like Bob Dylan meets Nine Inch Nails.”

Jef’s acoustic instrumentation seasons Jeremy’s surging electronic grooves, creating a new subculture in the EM genre growing in leaps and bounds thanks to artists like Daft Punk, EM DJs and the rise of EM festivals worldwide.

“Even what sounds like electric guitars are my Martin acoustic Jeremy has treated with effects,” said Jef, who does most of the processed vocalizing on the album.

Some selections are pretty out there, but “Snap Dragon,” “Zeitgeist,” and “Sex Tape,” seem capable of making an impact for the Portage-born brothers in today’s EM-heavy pop scene if they can get them heard.

“I’ve been so far into the folk acoustic thing with my own albums, that doing this was a real treat,” added Jef. “It’s the other side of the coin.”

Both Sarvers began organically in music. “I started playing saxophone in seventh grade and got involved in jazz band in high school,” revealed Jeremy, a 1993 Portage High School graduate. Since then his only musical output was blowing horn on Jef’s “Kitchen Sink” album years ago and occasionally sitting in on one of Jef’s live gigs.

“Growing up in the 1980s, there was sax in a lot of pop music and my parents were into ‘50s music when sax was a lead instrument,” said Jeremy of how he gravitated to the brassy instrument surprisingly absent on “Sarver 2.”

This album owes to the influence Chicago’s own Ministry had on Jeremy during his late teens. “It (music) fell by the wayside for years, but in the 2000s I started getting into video and started video-taping everything,” said Jeremy, whose YouTube channel (YouTube.com/Sarver 424) showcases the abstract videos he produces like “Ode To Hollywood,” “Edmonds Fitzgerald,” and “Don’t Panic.” At first, he used Jef’s music to accompany them, but eventually began experimenting in creating his own backing tracks.

“It was just a natural progression once I started playing around with computer programs and figuring them out,” reflected Jeremy. “One day I took pieces of songs to Jef, drum beats and stuff. He was pretty impressed and said ‘Hey, let’s do an album.’”

“It took us about eight months to make this CD and it’s been a total do it yourself project from start to finish, from the music to the artwork (shot at the Indiana Dunes), to burning each CD myself.” Both brothers contribute guitar parts since Jeremy picked up playing six-string when dabbling with creating backing tracks to his videos.

“There was so much to work with,” recalled Jef of first hearing the huge collection of tracks Jeremy stockpiled. “I could have just given him a notebook with lyrics I’ve written and had him pick something, but instead we worked on this together. I listened to a lot of his tracks and wrote lyrics to fit them. Then we completed and tweaked everything together. I’m really thrilled with this album.”

The brothers are marketing “Sarver 2” mostly online through retail sites like CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon Music, etc. The disc is also available at Jef’s live solo shows and selected joint performances billed as Sarver 2, that feature Jeremy on both guitar and the saxophone that started him on his musical journey.


• Northwest Indiana singer/songwriter Eric Lambert latest CD, “Maiden Voyage,” was released last month. He performs selections from it live on air Tuesday as guest of “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges,” which airs Tuesdays at 6pm (repeating Friday at 12am) on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore and is streamed live in real time online - lakeshorepublicmedia.org/radio - then permanently archived on that website for free “on demand” listening.

A member of the Chicagoland music community for over 40 years, Lambert’s musical style knows no bounds and includes folk, bluegrass, country, rock, Americana. More: ericlambert.com

• Last week Chicago born and bred musician Todd Carey released the lead single “Nintendo” from his forthcoming album “Future Throwback” for Blaster Records. On it, Todd slings out sugary rhymes with 1980s retro references like Captain Crunch, Battleship, and shoes with pumps. Carey returns home Saturday for concert at Martyrs (3855 N. Lincoln) with Dan Godlin, Los Colognes and Curtis Peoples. Cost: $15/21 and over. More: martyrslive.com or (773) 404-9494

“We wanted to keep things sexy with the grooves and fun with those throwback lyrics,” said Todd of the tune. Listen at: soundcloud.com/toddcarey/nintendo-1.

Email Tom Lounges at beatboss@aol.com.

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