From humble origins to breakthough success

LEWIS DEL MAR EVOKES Latin folk-rock vibes throughout their music.

The dynamic folk-rock duo of Lewis Del Mar is based just three hours south of Troy, New York, their humble beginnings originating in a Queens basement. Danny Miller and Max Harwood dropped their sonically strong debut album last month, and its compelling indie rock aesthetics prove to be worth a closer look.

Miller and Harwood power past simple pop antics, reaching instead for a Latin-fused, percussion-soaked sound that brings each guitar strum and bold lyric to a vibrant life. Miller offers vocals and guitar; Harwood handles drums and production. The two grew up together as childhood friends, and claim their success as a duo stems from their bond and belief that friendship comes before fame. The two have experienced a steady rise in the alternative music scene recently, trading basement sessions for festival appearances.

It wasn’t always easy for the two. They moved to Brooklyn and worked service jobs, throwing themselves into their music after hours. They began to feel the creative fire fading; an unknown group without a name. It was from this arduous low that they began to discover and build upon their sound. Their vibe is essentially a blend of opposites; the familiarity of their culture and community, and the bold experimentalist rock-pop they hone so precisely. You can feel the Latin flavor in the sensory lyrics, and the bursts of percussion strike you with the heat of a habanero pepper. Oceanic vibes simultaneously flow in crashing chorus waves. Such brash and inventive sounds from this low point led the duo to their first break. The release of their first single, “Loud(y),” garnered immediate positive feedback. It earned the coveted top spot on Hype Machine, a music aggregator blog that calls out the best new acts and predicts future successes. The hype built instantly and lasted until the release of their self-titled debut album last month.

The track that brought them a chance, “Loud(y),” opens with simple strings, then gains some courage as it progresses into a bold, bass-punched first line. The chorus bursts into a lush percussion arrangement that sighs and screams to Miller’s vocal “you got a semi-automatic mouth.” It descends into descriptive spoken-word sections and keeps surprising with its constant twists and turns. The next standout track feels like it was sung sideways. The lyrics are direct, the arrangement winding and reflective. “The party’s alive at 5 am/But who’s counting? Dance around like skeletons/cause we forgot what we wanted,” strikes a different chord than their lead single. The vocals start to strain as the verses darken and chorus thickens, and you feel as if you’re in the same dark room haze. The first track of the LP, “Such Small Scenes,” opens in disarray before funneling into vocal synths and sharp-tuned percussion. This one is particularly candid, starting with a confession of “never felt at home in my hometown,” then a brutal “I promise I’m fine, I’ll call you if I cave in.” The production is key here; the song progresses in waves, from the first descending synths to the final bass cutouts.

Lewis Del Mar’s debut exhibits massive talent and promise. They own their signature sound from the first track on, and it feels as if they’re ready to take on all that’s coming their way. The two have been working hard, and with passion, to make their dreams a reality. Their eagerness to share their passions, and the ingenious honesty that flows from it, makes them uniquely likeable.