The Marias are a five-member psychedelic soul-band that implements Spanish/English singing, jazz, percussion, hypnotic guitar riffs, velvet-vocals and horn solos into their sound. The five members of the group include Maria, the lead vocalist; Josh Conway, the drummer; Jesse Perlman, the guitarist; Carter Lee, the bassist; and Edward James on the keys. The Marias have released two albums since 2017, the first titled “Superclean Vol. I,” and the second, which was later published in 2018, “Superclean Vol. II.”
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the group’s live performance and I must admit, it was intoxicating. The Marias created a riveting dreamlike fusion of jazz, psychedelia and funk through their sound alone, and Maria’s voice, when singing, adds a sultry texture to the underlying melody.
But if that’s not convincing enough, here are three reasons why you should listen to their spell bounding music.
1. Their Distinct Sound
The first time I heard the Marias, I was in my room folding clothes, smelling my spiced cinnamon-apple candle and listening to my Good Vibes playlist. The first song I heard from them was “I Don’t Know,” which showcases Maria singing in a soft falsetto tone that leads the tonality of the guitar.
After Maria’s semi-solo, the song repeats the beginning melody — the guitar and soft falsetto. However, there are minimal changes each time she repeats the main lyrics that hypnotize the listener. The combination of the despondent lyrics with the slumber-like melody are what make the song successful.
In antithesis to the melancholic song, The Marias expand their creativity with “Ruthless.” Again, Maria begins the song with her lusty, sound-processed vocals, the results of which are a muffled end product that complements the song’s key change well. Because of the surprising change, the tonality switches, thus changing the mood and making you want to have a fruit cocktail.
Finally, Maria has a technique that she applies to her music: slurred vocals, or elongated phrases that she holds on the same syllable. The trick is not that popular in the music industry because it’s difficult to master. However, Maria slurs her syllables perfectly and therefore creates a funky dreamy piece.
2. Great for Productivity
In the last three to four years lo-fi music has expanded in popularity, especially when listeners are trying to be productive. What makes lo-fi great to listen to is that the songs are all relaxed and psychedelic.
The Marias embody this sound to the letter, only they add a cup of funk to their groovy-psychedelia mixture. As mentioned before, the first time I heard The Marias was when I was folding clothes, and now I listen to them for almost every productive activity. I cannot get enough of their sound. Something about their ensemble and aesthetic always puts me in a trance, and they always have me swaying on my feet.
3. A Sense of Intimacy
Be aware, The Marias are not your average lovey-dovey music group. Their lyrics evoke a sense intimacy through a dark swath of emotions. Posted on their website are the lyrics to all their released songs, most which are not cheerful. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though.
The practice of interweaving dark emotions into romantic overtones can be dangerous, but it lends itself to a sense of intensity. As several of the songs imply, there is an intimacy to having your partner at your side during hardship.
Additionally, the lyrics they have that aren’t depressing are sexy, like in “I Like It,” where Maria sings, “Sugar babe take me to the moon cause I’m feeling right.” In their more seductive songs, the group begins to resemble a ’70s ensemble, using the keys and drums to create a retro tone.
3. Their Music Videos Are Beautiful
In each music video published by the band, they use a consistent pattern of high contrast pastel colors. In the video for “Carino,” soft colors contrast with an abundance of red overtones, and the atmosphere, which itself feels lo-fi, complements this sense of discoloration.
They use the same pattern in the music video for “I Don’t Know You.” Though the effect is less luminous than in “Carino,” it is still very apparent. The color scheme, by combining pastels and contrasting colors, creates an effect of luminescence — in other words, psychedelia.