When asked why we never actually see them wearing overcoats, Hana Elion of buzzy NYC musical duo Overcoats (which also includes JJ Mitchell) counters, “You’re not looking hard enough!” She may be right, in fact—but it’s probably also because we’re busy listening. Just as we had been when they released their critically acclaimed debut album YOUNG in 2017, via Arts & Crafts. (NPR called it “one of the best albums of the year.”)
But lately we’ve been obsessed with two new singles by them: “Leave if You Wanna,” an ethereal dream pop meditation on romantic confusion (imagine if Le Tigre went indie folk); and especially “The Fool,” which reminds us of so many great ’80s synth pop bands, especially Depeche Mode and OMD. The latter also contains one of our current fave lyrical couplets, “Some days I’m a warrior / Some days I’m out of my mind.” Uh huh.
Image by Shervin Lainez
The tracks are a preview to their upcoming sophomore album, to be released in early 2020 via Loma Vista Recordings.
The pair also sport a singular sense of style, one apparently cultivated in the thrift/vintage/indie/punk shops that have somehow managed to remain open in the face of skyrocketing New York rents. So when we caught up with them for a chat, we asked if they would also be so kind as to enlighten as to their fave five of said shops – a request with which they enthusiastically complied.
How did you come to meet and form Overcoats?
Hana: We met on our first day of college. Our connection was instant, and we sang together for a long time before we formed the band, in the last few months of our senior year. It happened pretty organically. We couldn’t stop writing together, and we didn’t want desk jobs.
Were you surprised by the amazing critical reception for YOUNG in 2017?
JJ: We were humbled by how much people connected with the music on that record. Those songs were born out of our late night college dorm room hangouts and our own personal experiences of the world around us. So it felt special to have anyone at all listen and like it.
That album had something of a sweet, Swedish pop vibe—but the songs from the new album sound a little darker, almost like you were listening to Depeche Mode or Gary Numan. What were some of your influences when recording the new album?
Hana: We listened to much more rock while we were recording this record. From modern bands like Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon, to classic groups like the Stones and Public Enemy. We wanted to bring an angsty, organic vibe to the new material.
What else can you reveal about the upcoming album?
JJ: We expanded the breadth of sonic and lyrical content on this next project, allowing ourselves to comment on what was and is happening culturally and politically. The album touches on the #MeToo movement and its limits within the music industry, [and also] the gun violence epidemic, depression, Generation Z, the climate crisis, as well as our own interpersonal relationships with partners and family over the past three years. It’s personal but it’s also political, an album that is meant to break you apart and then put you back together again.
You each have a unique sense of style, but also are very complementary to one another. Do you shop together, do you plan out your looks?
Hana: We have a hilarious thing that happens to us, which is that we show up to places accidentally matching, all the time. It’s a blessing and a curse. Fashion and style and visual culture are inextricably linked to music for us—so when we’re making an album [like this one] we’re both interested in leather jackets, pointy boots, animal prints.
Do you have musical style icons that you admire?
JJ: For this album we have definitely been inspired both sonically and stylistically by artists like Iggy Pop, The Violent Femmes, and of course Bowie, mainly in his glam rock phase. More contemporary icons include Harry Styles and Billie Eilish—we can’t get enough of their dope androgynous wardrobes.
Will you be touring for the new album in 2020?
JJ: Definitely. We will be headlining in North America from April onward. (For early 2020 dates w/ Cold War Kids click here.)
Overcoats’ Favorite NYC Shops
We’ve been really inspired by punk fashion and culture recently. Search and Destroy is a wild place – kind of overwhelming, but a staple for DIY pieces. Expect Vivienne Westwood, as well as Vivienne Westwood dupes.
A classic NYC punk store. Leather, chains, mesh, all the best band t-shirts. We’ve sourced a lot of clothes from here for music videos and such.
Bushwick’s best thrift store. It’s big, it’s fabulous. Levi’s, vintage band t-shirts, and bomber jackets galore. Also lots of funky tie-dye…which luckily for everyone, is back in style – did it ever go out of style though?
Slightly higher price range than our go-to vintage spots, but this trendy boutique chain always has amazing designer items for that album-release-celebration purchase. Love their No. 6 clogs, Leigh Miller jewelry, and Ganni clothing.
For another slightly more upmarket boutique, we love Oroboro. They have beautiful clothes from emerging designers like Black Crane and Jesse Kamm…as well as weird and wonderful pottery objects. The store in Soho is a really cozy and relaxing place, and if everything is out of your price range you can always just buy a soap for your mom.