Candidate brings 100% realness 100% of the time, which the mathematically inclined will note is 200% realness. This Brooklyn rock band’s “songs are filled with melodic hooks.” They are “hard to dislike,” because “these dudes are pretty cool.” “Sometimes you just need to put your hair up in a side pony, peg your jeans, and rock out. Let Candidate take you there.”
In the beginning, there were three men in Lexington, KY. These men were Cedric Sparkman, Laurence Adams and Jason Matuskiewicz. They were rockturnal creatures, to be sure, and self-appointed, but self-appointment is the only means by which one can achieve such a station.
Really, though, this band started at one discrete moment in time. In Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky, the foothills of Appalachia, when Cedric saw Laurence buy a copy of The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow at the local Wal-Mart and thought, “Hey, that boy who could barely play ‘Hey Jude” might be pretty cool after all.” So, as young, foolish musical men are so often wont to do, they decided to start a cover band—a mixture of The Smiths and David Bowie covers. Yes, in Hazard, Kentucky. I know, right?
They carried this back to the teaming metropolis of Lexington, KY, where both were then living. In the meantime, Laurence met Jason, who was then but one modest young man playing acoustic singer-songwriter shows somewhat haphazardly—with little ambition and even less effort. After sometime in Morehead, Kentucky, the hardwood capital of the world, and Heidelberg, Germany, Cedric returned to Lexington, and he and Laurence succeeded in putting together a Smiths cover band that didn’t actually play Smiths songs, called Varsovia—which is to say it comprised equal parts pastiche and encomium. They invited Jason to join the band, but with the catch that he play bass, an instrument he had never played before. It turned out Jason was a natural. And Varsovia released two E.P.s—brilliantly titled EP1 and EP2—before calling it a day in 2009.
In the interest of making everything as difficult as possible, which, along with arguing like brothers, is a favorite Candidate pastime, after deciding to form a new band, Cedric, Jason and Laurence wrote over 30 new songs before playing a show. After a couple shows, the band recorded an album, A New Life. Although the songs were all written collaboratively, the album contained a loose narrative roughly following the dissolution of Jason’s marriage. The released the album in June 2011.
Over the course of his time in the band, Cedric Sparkman succumbed to that emotion that is the inveterate enemy of rock n roll, love. When his girlfriend—who is wonderful, by the way—graduated from her MFA program in New York City, she and Cedric decided they would live there. And so he did in August 2011. Jason, deciding there was little to keep them at his lucrative career as a lawyer, other than money, comfort and the promise being able to buy food in the future, and Laurence, wishing to test his mettle in the Brooklyn wastes, they would join Cedric—chasing a dream in the big city.
Shortly after arriving in New York, Candidate met Chris Infusino, a real live pro drummer, who joined them for their first show in NYC. He killed it. After the show, Jason asked Chris if he would like to join them in recording the band’s next album. Chris asked when this recording was to begin, to which Jason replied, “Next week.” Ah, Candidate, always keeping everything as difficult as possible. Chris cleared his schedule and joined the band.
Teaming up with boy genius and super producer, Justin Craig, the band created their second album—a sonically expansive, forward looking record. The album continues and concludes the narrative that started on the first LP, A New Life. This time, however, the narrative was shaped by Cedric, although the narrator is the same mostly fictional character. The album reflects the personal struggles and ultimate triumph he experienced upon his move to New York.
The album’s first single, “April Again,” is the first track on the album. It is a song about resurrection of the self that draws on Krautrock, The Beatles, Arthur Rimbaud and T.S. Eliot, but with its 5/4 verses slathered in ear candy melodies, it’s really just all Candidate bringing 100% realness 100% of the time.