One of several bands putting Doylestown on the musical map these days, Aderbat sprang from the imagination of Bucks County-raised songwriter Matt Taylor, whose grandfather made a name for himself singing during the big band era. Taylor made a solo debut in 2002 with Relay, followed two years later by Aderbat’s dusky, promising Rabbits and Rocks. The band seemed to lie somewhat low for a while after that, only to sneak back onto Philly’s radar with a recent string of high-profile opening slots.
It turns out Aderbat’s been busy all along, working on two records for back-to-back release via their own Mountebank label. The six-song Man Overboard EP is a subdued, atmospheric detour from the more folky album We Belong to the Sea. Oceanic hang-ups aside, both mine a reverb-y strain of Americana that’s at once world-weary and fresh-faced. Between Taylor’s scratchy-soft vocals and the band’s warm experimentation, it’s easy to be reminded of both Josh Rouse and John Vanderslice.
The shuddering title track of Man Overboard approaches its metaphor subtly, presenting dislocation as something only its victim can cure. Just as quietly grabby is the opening “Hardwired,” featuring some of Taylor’s crispest singing and an odd undercurrent of tenor sax by Shot X Shot’s Bryan Rogers, who plays on several songs on both records.
Listening to the 17 new Aderbat tunes in a row can’t help but highlight the chameleonic contributions of Taylor’s bandmates—bassist Brad Kunkle, guitarist Chris Covatta, drummer Todd Schied and multi-instrumentalist Craig Hendrix—just as much as his bookish, downbeat songwriting. By day Taylor is a visual artist (ditto founding member Kunkle), which may account for Aderbat’s wavering sheen and dense layering of sounds. Either way, the artful combination of the two makes the band seem like a mystery the listener has only half-solved.