The social aspect of social media is often lost in the barrage of blips and bleeps emitted by our smartphones like rapid fire. En toto, these bites comprise the cacophonous soundtrack to an emotional tug-of-war between the self that wants to go out on the town, to see and be seen, and the self that wants to remain slumped on the couch. It’s a familiar sound for those, like me, who have grown up with technology at our fingertips. The invitation is there, but it can be intimidating to go out into the open and do the things that we assume normal people do.
The opening line of Friendly Dads’ debut single, “Nicotine Dreams,” felt relatable right away: “I learned who to be from watching TV.” This shared secret, and the bouncy toned-rock arrangement à la Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball, urged me to put on one of my countless black T-shirts and go outside again.
Brothers Ryan and Noah Schleifer officially formed Friendly Dads in October 2018. Ryan plays the drums; Noah tackles bass and vocal duties. Filling out the roster is Mason Jenkins on rhythm guitar and vocals and Easton Ray on lead guitar.
“We have all played together (separately) for about two years,” Noah told Folio Weekly. “It was all kind of a joke side project but it’s been so fun writing music, we’re putting a lot more into it.”
“Nicotine Dreams” was unveiled Feb. 14. Scrappy and slightly lo-fi, Friendly Dads’ strong song-craft and fondness for Boston’s Counter Intuitive Records aesthetic make for a stoner-friendly, happy-go-lucky hybrid of acoustic guitar, electric instrumentation and warm vocal harmonies. (Editor’s note: A winning formula! See Seattle’s Young Fresh Fellows. GV)
The track’s lead guitar line was stuck in my head for days, and the drumming is instrumental (ha!) in setting the vibe for the song. The cherry on top is most definitely Noah Schleifer and Mason Jenkins’ vocal harmonies. If you’re into this new phase of jangly emo—or if you’ve worked BOH at any millennial-hip restaurant—this is sure to work its way into your Spotify daily playlist.
“Nicotine Dreams” is a warts-and-all celebration of life as a young and restless 904 city rat. The lyrics reflect daily humdrum and the struggle to keep boredom at bay. Lyricist Noah Schleifer explained, “We don’t want to sound like we are taking ourselves too seriously. I just write about day-to-day problems, and finding happiness in life’s small victories.”
One such small victory can be found in friendship and celebration, preferably the late-night variety: “I had too much to drink and they took my keys/Maybe it’s not too late/I know some places that are open until 2 a.m./I can’t wait to go there with my friends.”
Like many rising Northeast Florida bands, the Dads are a DIY operation who want to grow their band organically. “We usually record some demos at our house,” said Noah, “and then show the whole band and we decide if we should play it. We just finished recording our first EP. A release date will be announced soon. There may be a weekend tour to release it. We have a lot of cool shows with some amazing artists coming up as well.”
According to Ray, Friendly Dads’ only goal at the moment is to “make more music that is good to put on when you’re having fun with friends.” When they’re not making their own music (or skateboarding), they’re supporting friends’ bands. The takeaway from a Friendly Dads’ live set and their music in general? Noah wants to remind everyone the importance of “straight kickin’ it and being true to who you are, even though it sounds really corny.”