Standout Track: “Get On,” which sounds like a copy of NME’s C-86 mixtape—twee-pop ground zero—played at twice the regular speed. “You have to see the light of day sometimes and get on,” squeaks guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Ehrens. But the band’s inspirations are hardly so pretentious. “When I was 14 I saw a Citibank commercial where a guy was playing the ukulele,” says Ehrens, disclosing the origin of his guitar sound.
Musical Motivation: Ehrens tinkered with music for years, but after seeing several of his friends tour Europe and the United States in successful bands, he decided to get more serious. “My [initial] motivation was to make my ex-girlfriend jealous,” jokes Ehrens, a Baltimore-based sound engineer and news producer (Bass player Jason Howe, who lives in Reston, is the band’s closest claim to D.C. residency). He’s over that, now, though. “Now my motivation is to not have a day job.”
Mingering Mic: “I used to invent bands and record albums for them. Then I’d make a fake biography and put it up on the internet,” says Ehrens, explaining the Art Department’s convoluted origins. “This was supposed to be an ’80s band from Carson City, Nev.” That was in 2005. Later on, when Ehrens decided to get serious about having a popular band, he just pulled the music off the shelf and made the fictitious band into a real act. “So I guess we’ve been around maybe a year and a half,” Ehrens says, “But really we’ve been floating around for four years.”