Formed by roommates ultramark (yes, ultramark) and Ryan McCarthy in Chicago in 2009 and later expanding to a four-person roster for touring purposes, Stepdad is an enormously fun electro-pop band that has released one of the best and most infectious EPs I've heard this year. The band's debut, Ordinaire, was first released in 2010, but this remastered and expanded version (stretched to the LP-appropriate length of 40 minutes) seems to be making the rounds more quickly - and I'm certainly glad it found its way to me.
The EP begins with the thunderous, brooding "Jungles," but from there on out you'll find brighter, more Nintendo-flavored pop tunes full of both gleeful electronic riffs and ultramark's soaring vocals. The album ranges from driving 8-bit anthems ("Wolf Slaying as a Hobby") to disarmingly sweet ballads ("Parrot") and is strong throughout, but the standout here is the oddball pop tune "My Leather, My Fur, My Nails," which best exemplifies the band's way of squeezing constant hooks from their unique electronic palette.
The real appeal of Ordinaire lies the band's ability to make sonic sugariness and geeky sentimentality not just a gimmick but a genuinely effective and enjoyable part of their pop sound. For those with a musical sweet tooth, Stepdad should hit the spot.
Listen to "My Leather, My Fur, My Nails" below and make sure to check out the band's Bandcamp page to stream/purchase the full thing.