by Ryan McDonald
Lately, the Charities have been in search of a sound that doesn’t hit the listener over the head, but instead creeps up in a subtle embrace — what singer Brock Van Pelt calls “vibey music” or, more poetically, “the undeniable groove.”
The Charities formed in the South Bay, a gaggle of misfits who seemed to determined to prove that the place that raised them had not entirely lost its arty, soulful edge. After a fruitful period in which the band crammed into half of a duplex on Alma Avenue in Manhattan Beach, they relocated to the Central Coast from the South Bay in the spring of 2019. The group has gone through lineup changes since it began, but they continue the communal living approach to band life.
The Charities have booked a series of gigs for the coming months, including a performance at the Shabang Music and Art Festival in San Luis Obispo the day before their appearance at BeachLife. But the band’s focus lately has been on recording, both material that has emerged more recently, and older tracks that have not yet been captured.
“We’ve always recorded ourselves, just whoever has been in the band and how good they are at engineering,” said Van Pelt. “But we decided we really wanted to work with a person outside the band.”
The Charities recently played a gig with the Altons, a soul group from Southern California who will also be playing BeachLife. The Altons have released tracks through Penrose Records, a subsidiary of Daptone, the New York-based label that has helped lead the funk and soul revival of recent years.
“Playing with them was a huge step for us, a huge inspiration for us,” Van Pelt said. “All the guys in that whole Penrose recording scene are huge inspiration for us: great people who make vibey music, just like I was talking about.”
The Charities play BeachLife May 14.
Photo by Jo Anna Edmison