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Post Sixty Five to play The Southern

Local band will release haunting EP

The Southern Café and Music Hall will welcome Charlottesville-based band Post Sixty Five to the stage tonight to celebrate the release of their first official EP, “I Think We’ll Be Okay.” The band will showcase its uniquely somber, yet compelling tone, and will be joined onstage by other local musicians such as Devin Sproule, Fire & the Romance and friends from The Anatomy of Frank, Erin and the Wildfire and Kendall Street Company.

Led by vocalist Hicham Benhallam, Post Sixty Five was formed in October 2013 by various students involved in O Records, a student-run record label at the University. In addition to the University’s role, Benhallam explains Charlottesville has also had a positive influence on their formation.

“This city is designed to help people build connections within the community and fosters an overwhelming appreciation for local art,” Benhallam said. “It provides the perfect space for us to nurture our music and our songs.”

The music of “I Think We’ll Be Okay” is characterized by its thoughtful, yet gloomy atmosphere. Though Benhallam’s vocals have a subdued quality when combined with the subtle guitar and pulsing rhythm section, it creates a compelling tone of emotional exhaustion. The songs are hypnotic, bringing forth a sound that will capture you unaware and make you drift off in thought about your life.

“We write with a deliberate intent to dig into a wide palate of human emotions,” said Benhallam. “We try our best to evoke shades of anger, jealousy, anxiety, isolation, desperation as well as feelings of love, reunion, and self-abandonment.”

They succeed in this sincere goal. The lyrics of the songs create an aura of pain and destructive darkness, yet their raw honesty will leave you mesmerized with its grace. In the first track of the EP, “Now that We’re Outside,” Benhallam sings, “and then you say ‘I love you’ cause I’m thinking all the time / and I think I love you anyway, but I don’t know my line.” These words are painful, but also relatable.

In many of the album’s later songs, Benhallam harmonizes with one of Post Sixty Five’s guitarists, Kim McMasters, creating an impression of an endless echoing. In the second song, “Tied Up,” the echoing seems to intensify — Benhallam’s voice fades, as if continuing to sing would be too much to handle. The two voices envelop the listener in their tragic beauty.

The song, “Beginners,” is a strong closing note to the EP. As the first song the band composed with all of the current members, “It’s a very complete piece that truly defines our sound and who we are as a band,” Benhallam said.

Benhallam describes this track as “simple, yet devastating,” and that could not be more accurate. The first verse ends with the question, “we stay kids for too long, we stay kids for too long, / will anybody love me, will anybody love me?” The melancholy lyrics and mellow guitar flow together seamlessly, growing in intensity until the end when pressure is released into a quiet, desperate, “since there’s no one left tonight, let me in, let me in.”

Post Sixty Five hopes to go on tour with the official release of “I Think We’ll Be Okay,” working towards the release of a full length album in 2016. With the strong potential that the band has proven on this first EP, it is obvious that they will be more than just “okay.”