What do most roller-skating arenas and the mall in “Stranger Things” have in common? Their entire aesthetic matches a specific underrated band. The words “retrograde,” “neon” and even “psychedelic” spin around in my mind like a disco ball. To listen to their music is to peer into a distant yet revitalized past. 

American pop-rock trio Dreamers started in Manhattan, New York with all the members originally from different states. Lead singer Nick Wold grew up in Seattle, Washington and moved to New York to study jazz at NYU around age eighteen. 

According to an interview with ShuffleOnline, an online magazine covering music and entertainment, he then realized rock was more his forte and after college started a band called Motive while bartending on the side. When that band fell through, he decided to start fresh and teamed up with bass player Marc Nelson and drummer Chris Bagamery to form Dreamers in 2014. That same year they released “Wolves (You Got Me)” and their self-titled first EP “Dreamers” that led to opener spots on tours with Walk The Moon, Stone Temple Pilots and Bear Hands, according to ShuffleOnline.

Bagamery was later replaced with Jacob Wick when the duo relocated to Los Angeles in 2015, according to allmusic.com.  

The name Dreamers sprung from John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” according to ShuffleOnline. But that wasn’t the only driving force. It is also found in the sound and lyricism, with numerous dream references and some exuberant instrumentals. Recall how I described their sound as “psychedelic?” They are high on hopes and dreams for sure. 

Their sound is similar to bands like The Wombats, Vinyl Theatre, Saint Motel, Roseburg and Grizfolk (not to be confused with Grizwolds). 

According to broadwayworld.com, after the group signed to Fairfax Recordings in 2015, they released their second EP “You are Here.” Their first EP sounded like it came straight from a live set: fewer instruments and a minimal amount of layered tracks. While I enjoy simpler tunes, I found those tracks to be very unmemorable and not catchy, not bad but not a repeat favorite. 

In comparison “You are Here” was bolder and more complex, relying on just the right amount of studio enhancements and embellishments. It’s like adding spice. I’m personally drawn to “Shooting Shadows,” because it’s got the punch of a Sour Punch Straw. The verse is slightly underwhelming — at least at first — but the chorus surprises you. Then it stays in your head for days, be warned.

In August 2016, the band released their first album, ironically called “This Album Does Not Exist.” In 2017, the trio toured with the Griswold’s. They also released some very successful singles like “Sweet Disaster,” reaching No. 7 on the Alternative Chart, and “Painkiller,” No. 29 on the same chart, according to Billboard.com

Add “Painkiller” to your middle school emo phase soundtrack. It’s very reminiscent of early 2000’s grunge and complete with a hypnotically racing beat and some very frantic guitar soloing. In fact, the guitar is practically screaming. 

“Sweet Disaster” has a sense of nostalgia tied to it. That could mean that I’d heard it before or it could mean that it’s practically a carbon copy of other alt-rock tracks. It does sound like something you’d hear in a department store or a Dick’s Sporting Goods. Nonetheless, I enjoy it.

In 2019, they released my favorite album, which I believe to be the epitome of their sound: “Launch Fly Land.” The cover art gives off a very dreamy, scattered-sense-of-reality vibe. They use all kinds of unique synths, and Wold’s vocals seem to intentionally fade into the background at times to fully emphasize getting swept away into some sort of dreamland. 

My favorite track is “Dizzy.” The song begins with a basic guitar strum. If you listen to it with headphones on, it’s got a mono speaker effect until the other instrumentals join in and it becomes full stereo, all-encompassing. Not to mention I’m a sucker for the fact that the synths sound very light and airy, reminding me of chiming bells. The pre-chorus has this spectacular rapid beat that launches you into the chorus before you even realize what’s happening. The sensation is like getting on a rollercoaster that’s been slowly inching its way upwards and then… you get it. 

I also enjoy “Die Happy” for its melodic simplicity. And “Take Me Home” has atmospheric background vocals with a sharp melancholy to them, the likeness of harsh winter wind. The lead singer calls out “take me home” in an echoey, reverb-heavy way. 

While I hate to bring up lackluster tracks when I’m trying to promote a band, I don’t love the song “Celebrate” from the same album. It sounds like a modern-day country song. Or the kind of song they would play during a beer commercial. I don’t like country music, nor do I care for beer.

Now onto the singles, I was psyched to discover that they had a collaboration with Grandson, an epic alternative band with a strong EDM influence. It’s called “Heat Seaker” where Acid House meets cinematic trailer music. Also, it absolutely brings the heat that it seeks. There is a very interesting high-pitched background vocal at the beginning that seems kind of randomly placed but somehow perfectly fits the vibe. This song makes me want to go out and break a world record for something.

I also adore their newest track “Palm Reader.” It’s funky and reminiscent of the disco era. There’s also a whole EP by the same name.

Before I forget to mention it, their single “Still Not Dead” is awfully underrated and was actually the very first song I ever heard by them. Nonetheless, the song is upbeat despite the darker subject matter. My interpretation of it is that no matter how dark the events of your past might be, remain grateful for the present moments. 

I discovered Dreamers through Spotify and now I listen to them on a regular basis. They are “underrated” by my standards for how experimental they are, always trying out something new yet never straying from their musical identity. They are walking, breathing examples of “sunny dispositions.” 

By my own standards, they aren’t an “underground” band, only because “underground” artists seem to have little to no social media presence or live show exposure, making them hard to keep tabs on. But they are “underrated” because they aren’t commonplace and have little to no headlined tours. Grant them more exposure because fans make all the difference. So, do yourself — and them — a favor and check them out on YouTube, SoundCloud or Spotify. 

To experience Dreamers’ music is to experience the world in a different way. To experience that dreamer mindset.


Follow Lauren Johns on Twitter, @lje2017

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