Once upon a time, the only music coming out of Isla Vista was a vibeless crossbreed of reggae and dude rock. Sped up or slowed down, aggressive or mellow, it was the kind of stuff that you had to be high to stomach. Nowadays, though, a Friday night in I.V. offers music fans a little bit more, at least as far as variety goes. In recent months, we’ve seen UCSB’s mean streets spit out some serious synth jams courtesy of FMLYBND, blissfully layered surf rock, thanks to Sun Daes, and at least one delightfully out-there electronic act. (Psychojohn, we’re looking at you.) And now, we can add The Fire Department to the growing list of UCSB-adjacent acts that have graduated out of the kegger scene. For Underwater, the I.V.-born band relocated to sunny Ojai, built a studio, and got to work on the four jams that would become their new EP. Like their live set, Underwater is dripping with a not-so-subtle sex appeal. (Lead track “So High” starts with the line, “Girl, I want to be between those jeans.”) But it’s the Fire Department’s cheeky blending of R&B, funk, and yacht rock tropes that makes the band so gosh darn loveable. Their songs are nods to time-tested, feel-good favorites like Steely Dan and Hall & Oates, and they’re delivered with the strong hooks and conviction that not only turns heads, but demands you dance along. The Fire Department celebrates the release of the Underwater EP on Thursday, April 3 at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) at 8 p.m. Visit velvet-jones.com for tickets and info. To purchase the record, visit facebook.com/thefiredepartment.
The Fire Department