Composed of four senior sound recording technology majors at Ithaca College — Sam Stein on guitar and vocals, Brendan Olivieri on guitar and vocals, Jake Mittelman on bass and Caleb Matheson on drums — Lazy Bones have been sharpening their knives in the small western New York town of Ithaca for the better part of three years. A blend of indie rock, shoegaze and psychedelia, the band got their start playing living rooms, attics and local bars throughout Ithaca. In the process, they essentially pioneered the alternative music scene in an area saturated by funk and reggae artists.
Lazy Bones’ sound is familiar in all the right ways. Chasing the tail-end of the recent post-punk revival, the characteristic aural jaggedness of the genre is augmented by Stein’s dreamy pop choruses and rounded out by Olivieri’s singer-songwriter-esque ballads. Throw in the occasional synth, the muted catchiness of the rhythm section occupied by Mittelman and Matheson and meticulous production from weeks of deliberate work, and you’ll find yourself in Lazy Bones’ sonic realm.
I first saw Lazy Bones perform in September 2017. It was an impromptu set late at night with gear haphazardly set up on their front porch. Stunts like this have characterized a decent portion of Lazy Bones’ career and illustrate precisely how second-nature their engagement with the local music scene is. This “get up and go” mentality has toured their music halfway across the country and built a wave of momentum from their first show. It has also assisted in the steady release of an array of singles, one of which, “Existential Crisis,” was even featured on Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlist and has garnered over 100,000 listens.
From their initial forays into performances, the band has played their part well. After a few years of working the notably homogenous Ithaca music scene, they can comfortably fill a room and from time to time and even receive an audience’s enthusiastic shouting of their distinctly poppy hooks.
Their live performances are succinct, each member dawning an air of somber focus as they settle into their stage presence. Stein’s and Olivieri’s harmonies elevate over meticulously selected guitar tones and rhythmic consistency on the part of Matheson. The coherence of their live sound only further reflects the hours of hard work it has taken for them to achieve such a level of tightness.
Since that September evening, I have gotten to see Lazy Bones evolve from situationally lo-fi pop songs barely audible over the crowds of drunk teenagers to a vision of professionalism. These days, they look at home on stages bigger than some of the rooms they’ve played and have dialed in a sonic cohesiveness that has not gone unnoticed.
They spend their time off from school touring out of dying cars through snow and rain and honing their skills as producers. Over the past few years, they have had the opportunity to open for acts such as Diet Cig, Wolf Parade, Pet Symmetry, Charly Bliss and Vundabar.
If you see these guys in person, it is undeniable that they look the part. For better or for worse every member of the band looks like a stereotypically alternative musician, and they carry themselves as such. Each comes from a long background of musical fixation, and the diversity of their influences can be seen clearly in the playlists currently available on their Spotify page. Beyond that, though, lies an aspect of this band that makes their dynamic something else completely.
On a given night, you could probably find members of this band slaving away at their college’s recording studio well into the early hours of the morning in an attempt to make progress on their self-produced next release. It is in this environment where you can see the force that has been driving this band since day one manifest itself. Whether they’re committing a whole day’s worth of time into tracking the instrumentation for a new song or hulling up in the studio’s control room at 4 a.m. trying to wrap-up a mix, the momentum that propels Lazy Bones to progress feels heady.
It is this work ethic that has contributed to the release of their four singles. The most recent of which, “Feel Nothing,” was released on all streaming platforms Thursday. A brief, power-pop anthem filled with an earworm of a chorus and harmoniously fuzzy guitar leads, it sucks its listener in from the first beats and emulates well the hybridized variations of the indie rock scene in which Lazy Bones has made a home for themselves.
With all four members weeks away from their college graduation and the better part of an LP already recorded, Lazy Bones has plans to move to Brooklyn and further integrate into the national indie rock circuit come fall. With this vision in their back pocket, they plan to make the most of their remaining time in Ithaca. Their next show will be on May 1 at The Haunt in Ithaca with their classmates in Butter, Aaron Rizzo and East Coast Summit.
Want to know what Lazy Bones is up to next? Follow them on Instagram @lazybones_band and check out their music on all streaming platforms.