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Sibling Revelry: Maine’s Oshima Brothers release ‘Dark Nights Golden Days’

April 27, 2022
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It’s only a matter of time before the Maine-based music-making siblings known as the Oshima Brothers find the outside world knocking on their door. The duo’s astonishing new album “Dark Nights Golden Days” provides further testament that the self-contained two-headed creativity factory of Sean and Jamie Oshima is bound for glory.

“Dark Nights Golden Days” is the second full-length release from the Oshimas, who wrote, recorded, produced and arranged the music, and played nearly every instrument.

The brothers take an equitable approach to creating their songs, as well as the visuals that accompany them. Saying that most of their songs originate from a place of inspiration, Sean starts writing while Jamie begins building the music.

“As things go along, we start intertwining those things,” Sean Oshima says. “By the end, we’ve invested an equal share.”

A seeming effortlessness permeates the Oshimas’ songs, belying the exquisite tailoring that went into creating them. An organic earthiness of melody and rhythm is punctuated with eloquent lyrics, lush sibling harmonies and thoughtfully devised instrumentation.

“Dark Nights Golden Days” opens with a nine-second recording of Sean and Jamie Oshima from 2001 when they were roughly ages six and three respectively. We hear the boys giggling before introducing themselves and giving a countdown.

“That’s us counting in the very first song we ever wrote which we did not include on this record … because it was bad,” Sean says, laughing.

Jamie adds it was included on the boys’ first album that nobody got to hear except their music-loving parents who’d provided the kids with a tape deck, not knowing it would help foster their love for creating music much like the nightly family Beatles sing-alongs around the dinner table.

The brothers grew up in rural Whitefield and currently reside in Portland.

You’ll hear subtle references to life in Maine in new songs like the ethereal “Goldmine,” which captures the essence of the coast and the worry-free feeling of sitting with a lover on a sun-baked beach and never wanting the moment to end.

The playfulness of “The Afterglow” contains a series of childhood snapshot memories of hanging with special friends in the brothers’ secret cabin hideaway.

The brief guitar instrumental “Whitefield” was inspired by the memory of their childhood home.

Jamie Oshima says Maine as a backdrop works its way into the duo’s songs unintentionally.

“As we write songs, as we live here, Maine is stitched into the songs,” he says. “We have scenes of the wilderness that you find in the forests of Maine, the rocky coastline and everything in between.”

The title “Dark Nights Golden Days” hails from the lyrics for “Burning Earth,” a song that Sean says he started writing while sitting in front of the open ocean while thinking of how we all contribute in some way to the planet’s changing climate.

Built on a dreamy bed of guitars, drums, bass and piano, the song’s hopeful message is driven home with a melodic chorus that reminds the listener they are the answer.

Each song on “Dark Nights Golden Days” has a connected visual counterpart which is Jamie’s specialty. He directs, edits and does most of the filming for the duo’s videos. The album’s first two videos are up now on YouTube while the full video album is expected this summer.

“The videos all tie into each other like chapters of a book,” Jamie Oshima says.

In the video for the single “Dance With Me,” an infectious love song dedicated to the intimacy and conversational aspect of dancing with a partner, scenes seamlessly intertwine in the same way each brother is the creative counterpart to the other.

Who hasn’t busted a move to a sweet dusty groove playing overhead in your local grocery store? When I told the Oshimas that the fun and funky “Disco Down the Aisle” had been stuck in my head for a week, Sean confirmed that the song is absolutely based in truth.

“I find that I’m always dancing in the grocery store like a fool because I’m so excited about shopping for food and anticipating making a great meal,” he said, adding “It’s a song for everyone.”

The Oshima Brothers recently returned from a tour that took them through the Midwest down to Florida and back to the Maine coast for a sold-out show at The Strand in Rockland.

The tour included stops at NPR’s Mountain Stage radio show in West Virginia, carried on more than 200 radio stations. They appeared on another 140 stations with an appearance on the syndicated radio program “Acoustic Café” recorded in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of the duo’s songs appeared recently on an episode of the public radio program “This American Life.”

The brothers say they returned home exhilarated by the tour after meeting so many new friends who told them they were starved for live music after going two years without. Sean Oshima says he understands that feeling clearly.

“I saw a fantastic bluegrass band here in Portland at Maine Craft Distilling, where we’ll be playing (on May 29),” he says. “I was there randomly and it hit me that it was the first live music I’d heard in two years. It was so beautiful, I just started crying.”

“Dark Nights Golden Days” represents a high-water mark for the Oshima Brothers who call its creation, and that of its video counterpart, the highlight of their career so far.

In addition to their upcoming show at Maine Craft Distilling, the Oshimas will play May, June and July dates in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont. The brothers say they’ve never been more ready to bring their music to people.

“We’ve seen that people want to be out listening to music, sharing the experience with each other and creating community,” Sean says.

And coming home, they say, is a feeling like none other. “Capping our latest tour with a sold-out show in Rockland was the cherry on top,” Sean says. “It feels so great to be back on the coast.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 05:21

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