The Sterns sound like Belle and Sebastian trying to make laid-back ska music, seeing as how the band makes grown-up pop with just a touch of rocksteady rhythm. Though everything the quintet plays comes out sounding vaguely English, its sound is subtle enough to pass as authentic; listeners would never suspect that these catchy bits come straight outta Boston. At a SXSW showcase last month in Austin, the Sterns sounded thicker (and better) than recordings. Heavy organ (think Murder City Devils) supplemented lighter songs, and the entire band fully threw itself into the performance, punk-style.
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