New Orleans is famous for its traditional jazz, funk, and R&B, not its indie pop. So it made some sense a couple of years ago when the city’s indie-pop duo Generationals appeared on the national stage with Con Law, a debut that seemed to marry the Shins with Dr. John. When this worked, it really worked: standout tracks “When They Fight, They Fight,” “Faces in the Dark,” and “Nobody Could Change Your Mind” were irresistibly upbeat, with great horn-based hooks. Some of them ended up in TV shows, movies, and commercials. But when I saw Generationals on tour with a full band backing them, I felt they needed to throw more ideas into the mix if they were going to sustain interest.
This year, Generationals returned with Actor-Caster, which finds them doing just that. The process started with last year’s Trust EP, in which Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer expanded their sound to include some ’80s touches without sacrificing the nods to the ’60s or the 21st Century. The experiments yield even better results on Actor-Caster.
The sound is still mostly uptempo and peppy and still mixes digital-age quirks and laid-back vocals with more traditional elements (the occasional old-school R&B bass line or burst of horns), but now they are mixed in with some New Order–like keyboards, U2–like echoes, and even a bit of ’90s-style distorted guitar. The sound is more complex, and Joyner and Widmer’s songwriting rises to the challenge...even if they still sing like they can barely get up off the couch. You may not always know what decade you’re in, but you know you’re listening to the Generationals.
Jamuel Saxon and Gardens and Villa also perform.
GENERATIONALS: The Casbah, Sunday, July 10, 8:30 pm. 619-232-4355. $10.