While listening to Sleater-Kinney’s terrific comeback, No Cities to Love, I was reminded of a band that I adored and followed back in the mid-2000s. The band – Demander. Formed in 2004, the New York City trio’s arrival was timely, as Demander filled the void left by Sleater-Kinney’s indefinite hiatus in 2006. Like the legendary riot grrrl founders, Demander adopted a similar approach with their edgy, raw, rock sound that was heavy with bass and kick-ass riffs.
The band, which was started by Karen Kanan Corrêa (vocals, bass) and Sivan Harlap (drums) and would shortly include guitarist Jared P. Scott, released their fantastic, self-titled EP in 2005. It recalled Sleater-Kinney’s excellent One Beat, where every track was relentless and just blew your mind.
The trio followed up their debut with their first LP, The Unkindness of Ravens, which was equally as good. It oozed with epic rock tracks. Corrêa‘s bass and Harlap’s drumming pounded one’s chest while Scott’s blazing guitar caused one’s body to spontaneously combust. “Hollis”, “GMT”, and “Elijah” epitomized the greatness of Demander’s sound and, ultimately, the height of their creative genius.
Before recording their second LP, Future Brite, the band had undergone a change. Scott had left the band to pursue another project, and David Kurutz stepped in to his place. This wasn’t the only change for the band, however, as the newly constructed Demander expanded its sound. While some of the gnarly rock remained, more pop textures were added. The result was an uneven album, whose strengths lied in its heavier numbers while the new sound had some moments but lacked the punch of the rockers. In the end, Future Brite represented a band at a crossroads and, ultimately, led to them announcing their own “indefinite hiatus” as of 2011.
The original three members have taken different paths. Corrêa and Scott launched new projects, although Scott still plays in Corrêa‘s backup band. Harlap, meanwhile, opened Eastwood, a successful and well-reviewed bar on the Lower East Side of Manhatten. There’s no word on when and if Demander will re-unite.
In the meantime, there is still some of Demander remaining. As mentioned, Corrêa has commenced a solo career, adopting the name of Demander’s second LP as her stage name. As Futurebrite, Corrêa has taken the remnants of Future Brite the album to create a truer, almost euphoric synth-pop sound. At the same time, you can still hear a bit of the edginess of Demander in her music, which creates some hope that Demander will re-unite.
Her debut EP, Carinae, is gripping and haunting at times yet buzzes with synth and electronic dance beats. It’s what Future Brite the album likely was envisioned to be, but it took time and space for this sound to be realized.
Jared P. Scott, meanwhile, formed a new band called Northern Bells. They released their debut album, Keep It in the Dark, in December of 2012. Scott’s project takes the furthest departure from Demander. Instead of pounding bass and edgy lyrics, Northern Bells have adopted an indie-rock sound that blends The National and Bright Eyes. The focus of the music is on the songwriting, and the album creates a feeling like you’re outdoors near a lake, just watching the world go by.
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