Cary, North Carolina is home to just shy of 200,000 people, 6 of which happen to be part of up-and-coming boy band Weston Estate. Formed after a couple of jam sessions and a Google Hangouts call, these precocious teenagers quickly catapulted themselves onto 19 Spotify editorial playlists and into the spotlight.
The origin story behind how middle school pals Srikar Nanduri, Manas Panchavati, Ushno Chakraborty, Tanmay Joshi, Abhi Manhass, and Marco Gomez came together is well-documented from their numerous online interviews. Rather than examining how they came to be, it is far more worthwhile pondering what they will become. From the eclectic mix of offerings they have put out thus far, it is safe to say that their influence will extend far beyond the small-town neighbourhood from which their name was derived.
An article from The Daily Tar Heel reports that the very first beat that the band created was in the style of an Indian dance hall, though it is apparent that the track did not make the cut for their debut single. If you scroll to the bottom of their SoundCloud page, you will encounter “Time to Find”, a Rex Orange County-esque track just north of 3 minutes, delivered with scratchy coos and faltering falsettos, hallmarks of low production quality to which they themselves have attested.
However, by the time they released their breakout single “Cotton Candy”, any traces of weakness in production and vocal execution have been eradicated.
Over easy acoustic guitar strums and a midtempo trap beat, the boys limn a halcyon picture of “cotton candy chocolate streams” and “lemonade oceans at [their] feet” with caramelly vocals befitting an ode to the lover of their dreams. The imagery here is more developed than their first foray into the scene with “Time to Find”, pointing towards a steady maturation of the band’s songwriting approach. Five members had writing credits on “Cotton Candy”, and the remaining Manhass served as executive producer.
A necessary consequence of the band gaining traction was sonic evolution. The quaint, acoustic-driven small-town charm that their earliest listeners fell in love with could no longer be the sole fuel behind the well-oiled machine that Weston Estate was to become. The band’s response to this dilemma came in the form of “Hypnotized”, an alternative R&B and Lo-fi hybrid which further broadened the band’s horizons.
Assisted by Nick Nash and Cash Paradox, who are successful type beat producers in their own right, the band’s expansive Lo-fi aesthetic grew to embrace traditional R&B stylings in lyrical content and vocal production. If “Cotton Candy” was too saccharine for some, “Hypnotized” steps in readily as proof that the boys offer more than sweet talk, assuring complete devotion, “when you cry it’s bringing out your eyes, I’ve been so inclined to sympathise, swear to God you got me hypnotised”. In the background, ad-libs are executed in soaring falsetto with the ease of seasoned veterans.
The group’s latest single “Saturday Nights” is their most distinctively melancholic tune, which is apposite given the world’s current state. It is interesting to witness them return to their acoustic roots while subverting the joyful innocence that once characterised their music; there is no better growth marker than using old material to evoke an entirely new range of emotions.
Weston Estate has transcended the boundaries of both genre and North Carolina’s state lines. Only time will tell if they’ll become their hometown’s most extraordinary claim to fame, but from what we’ve heard so far, we can make a fairly good guess.