OLD WAVE Field friends!
Mike Houston

ADAM BROCK, frontman and songwriter for the Portland pop band Old Wave, always wanted to be surrounded by a band.

Brock grew up in Cheney, Washington, where he dabbled in home recording and took piano lessons until switching to guitar in middle school. Then, in 2007, he entered the jazz program at Portland State University, where his studies kept him mostly cloistered from the city's larger scene.

But he continued making music on his own, most notably releasing a pair of three-song EPs in 2013 that showcased his considerable skill for penning charming and catchy budget-baroque folk-pop with subtle electronic touches.

Amanda Farmer (keys/vocals) heard one of those songs on the radio, tracked Brock down, and asked if he was interested in having bandmates. He was. Before long, the duo added Barra Brown (drums) and Abbey Hickman (bass synth/sampler/vocals), and the group started playing under the name Adam Brock 4 in early 2013.

"[Farmer's message] started the whole thing," Brock says. "It's been really, really amazing to have a group of people who are extremely talented in their own right but also willing to play your music."

Late last summer, the band took a new name: Old Wave. And on Sunday, they'll celebrate the release of their self-titled debut album, a 10-track effort that finds the quartet deftly walking a line between whispered bedroom-pop hymns and bigger, bolder arrangements, with icy boy-girl harmonies, vibrant horn parts, squiggly synths, and unexpected rhythmic quirks here and there.

"Raincoat" and "Indigo" run on guitar licks inspired by African music. "Indian Summer" is a buzzy, bouncy dance jam for wallflowers. And "Riddles" spends three minutes sounding like one of Kevin Barnes' barebones Of Montreal demos before blooming into an understated psych jam with a slightly sinister vibe and a motorik pulse. At the center of this swirl of strings and bleeps and beats are Brock's gauzy, laser-guided voice and winsome melodies.

The band changed its name partly "just to recognize how awesome these people are," says Brock. He still writes the music, but says his time with Farmer, Brown, and Hickman has changed the way he writes and arranges music.

"In the past, I had put together bands from music school and it always felt a little forced. It was great for a while, but then after a while people aren't cool with me being a control freak," Brock says with a laugh. "It was a different process this time around because usually I'm just by myself and I can do everything 300 times and drive only myself crazy, so it was interesting driving other people crazy a bit this time as well."