In a cozy living room on a chilly March evening, the three members of the Charlottesville band Yard Sale sit side by side on a large couch to discuss their recent musical success, their songwriting process and their plans for the future.
Yard Sale played their first ever gig at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall Jan. 22. Their show was flanked by performances by bands with large local followings like Cougar Beatrice and Backseat Driver. As Caden Koslowski — lead singer and guitarist of Yard Sale, and fourth-year College student — described the performance, “it was insanely nerve-wracking.”
However, as an audience member on that fateful night, this columnist can vouch that the performance from this up-and-coming band was breathtaking.
Yard Sale has an intriguing backstory. Just like its three members, this band finds its roots in Fluvanna County, which is located to the east of Albemarle County. Surprisingly, there is more than one Koslowski in this ensemble — the bassist MacLean is Caden Koslowsi’s older brother or, as he calls him, “old geezer.”
“A huge part of our friendship is music, going to concerts, talking about music,” MacLean said.
Jakob Shifflett, drummer for the band and third-year Piedmont Community College student, spoke of riding the bus with the younger Koslowski in elementary school. The pair also went to high school and community college together before Caden transferred to the University.
“We hung out a lot in high school,” Shiflett said. “We both had similar music tastes. I had my own music that I was putting out, so we linked up and started playing music together in late 2019. We started playing the three of us together in early 2020, and that’s when we started creating stuff.”
The band has produced an impressive amount of original music — one the band wants to highlight is “In Mind,” a song that MacLean describes as “a memoir.” It is soon to be released on Spotify. In terms of their actual songwriting process, Caden writes most of the band’s original music.
“I’ll play the same thing over and over again on the guitar and create some sort of vocal melody,” Caden said. “Over time, I’ll start applying words to it, and then I’ll try to piece those together into lyrics that mean something. A lot of my songs are topical in the sense that they reflect what’s going on in my life at that time.”
MacLean describes their band’s vibe as “inspirational emo.” He and the rest of Yard Sale look up to emo groups like American Football and Title Fight for their guitar-driven music and for the fact that they “are not afraid to be emotive in both the music and the lyrical content.” Indeed, one of the two songs that Yard Sale has released on Spotify — “Harmon Street” — poignantly exemplifies the band’s raw vulnerability.
“Harmon Street is a really important song because it was made for us and our friends who all went through family losses this summer,” Caden said. “The song is a way of dealing with it not only for the band but for our friends too.”
For inspiration, all three bandmates often turn to the indie sounds of musicians like Alex G or Beach Fossils. Caden Koslowski is particularly influenced by Remo Drive guitarist Erik Paulson and by Doug Martsch, the singer and guitarist for Built to Spill.
During their jam sessions, Yard Sale often experiments with a couple of songs they like. One of these songs is “Hello Goodbye” by waveform*. The band actually got to play alongside waveform* at the Southern Cafe & Music Hall.
“We’d only played three live shows and there hadn’t really been a focus on genre,” MacLean Koslowski explains. “It was all just musicians that came together to play. But this one was specifically to have emo-ass indie-ass bands play together… We really looked up to ‘waveform*’ and have covered their songs. It was nuts to see them play.”
In terms of the band’s future, Yard Sale has recorded a self-titled album which they plan to release soon. With this new release, the band will begin an exciting new chapter, and they hope their audience will continue to follow them in the next leg of their musical journey.