Opal Eskar is the latest convergence of some of Philadelphia’s busiest indie musicians: Karl Blau (vocals), Heyward Howkins (vocals, guitar), and Chet Delcampo (vocals, guitar, bass, keys); on the band’s new self-titled EP, out now via Blau’s Spiral Valley Records, they’re joined by Charlie Hall (drums) and Robbie Bennett (keyboards) of The War on Drugs. Blau met Howkins and Delcampo after relocating to Philly following a highly prolific period in the Olympia, Washington area where he released dozens of records and helped nurture the scene that brought the K Records label and influential artists such as Laura Veirs, The Microphones, and Earth — many of which Blau recorded and performed with — to prominence. Delcampo’s list of current and former collaborators is also long, including Kid Congo Powers, Joel RL Phelps, and Dave Lovering of Pixies, while Howkins is a founding member of the choral group The Silver Ages with members of Dr. Dog and The War on Drugs. Both are solo artists, and together they release a single as Later Fortune that was called “lush, sophisticated art pop” by Brooklyn Vegan last year.
About the band’s origins, Delcampo says, “A few years after David Bowie’s death, I was reflecting upon his methodology of assembling an interesting cast of characters into the right room at the right time. Tony Visconti, Brian Eno, Nile Rodgers, Mick Ronson, and many others.” Inspired to assemble his own group of collaborators this way, Delcampo reached out to Blau, whose work he had long admired, and Howkins brought Hall and Bennett to the band. According to Blau, the band’s message is to “let love be the governing force in exchanges with other humans. Let the innocence of our inner child — the curiosity that permeates life — help lead our actions and interactions.” That sentiment permeates the entire EP.
“Opal Eskar’s gentle, melodic songs fit right into Karl Blau’s discography… one of our country’s finest songwriters, coast to coast.” – KEXP Seattle
“Dreamy… a reflection of the languid heat wave energy while a solid means of keeping sonically cool.” – WXPN Philadelphia
“Blissful… ethereal… an eclectically pleasing sound that brings to mind the more artsy and mellow work of acts like TV On The Radio.” – Glide Magazine
“A quirky blend of hypnotic indie pop and gently percussive low-fi soul.” – Stereo Embers
RIYL: Karl Blau, Later Fortune, Smog, Hether, Cass McCombs
Recommended Tracks: Track 3, “The Woodsman,” Track 2, “Open Mind!,” Track 1, “And Yet Love Rules”
Label: Spiral Valley Records