I met Night Manager on the border of Alphabet City. The bar, Heathers, doesn’t have a sign, just “Heathers” on the door in silver marker with the name in serif script and a note asking if you would please not smoke inside. Three out of the four members of Night Manager were bundled in at a table; they were guitarists Ezana Edwards and David Tassy and lead vocalist Caitlin Seager. Their drummer, Mike Stefnov, couldn’t make it.
Edwards is thin and loud, and Tassy’s big but softspoken. Each prefers a warm tone to his guitar, playing a Fender Mustang and Jazzmaster, respectively. Between them is Seager, a petite, green-eyed, gold-haired singer, who was born and raised in France and has been singing and performing her whole life. Edwards first met Tassy last year at City College Of New York in an acting class. They soon recruited Seager and played their first show after just a few practices. Together as Night Manager, the band members have laid a bedrock of shoegaze guitar fuzz that shores up the lack of bass with deep tones. The songs are rooted in a pop or rock framework while still sounding expansive.
Here were three members of a band you could call part of a movement in the current Brooklyn DIY scene, but they hardly think of themselves that way. “What happened in the ’90s was natural, just like what’s happening now is natural,” says Tassy. Good music for them is simply good music, not some sort of timely fashion statement. But if they’re forced to label their sound, Tassy offers that Night Manager’s music is “pseudo-intellectual pop-rock.”
At first glance Night Manager slots nicely between Dive and like contemporaries. But the live show erases a lot of those comparisons, as Night Manager blends fuzzy, trembling guitars with Seager’s filtered voice along with crashing, rolling drums. The result is ghostly and strange. Lyrics are indistinct.
The band has some EPs out (I was more than a little shocked to find out they’d recorded all their songs in a practice space with nothing but a laptop), but live it sounds even better. Seager’s voice flying in the face of DIY aesthetics, namely that unless you’re self-taught and untrained it isn’t truly indie. Seager’s voice has a dominant quality that comes with a life of training. The sound swells and builds throughout a track, and she can transform even a basic scale into something hypnotic. In the end though, considering the band’s sound, it’s only, like Tassy said, something natural.