Family Video’s blend of pop-punk, synthwave and indie rock is as polished as it is boisterous

 By Grant Golden

July 30, 2021

Coming into the Charlotte scene in 2018, Family Video came in swinging for the fences. Josh Shabtai, the band’s vocalist and songwriter, made the trek from New York City to North Carolina with a collection of songs that evolved into Family Video’s debut EP Future So Dark. Produced by Danny Kalb (Beck, Ben Harper, Karen O), Shabtai and crew positioned themselves as a promising upstart local act.

L to R: Josh Durst, Mitchell Franklin, Josh Shabtai, Benjamin Fortenberry, and Gabe Avant. Photo: Graham Morrison

Family Video’s music is a calculated blend of pop-punk, synthwave and indie rock that’s as polished as it is boisterous. The group’s most recent single, “Hyperdrive” displays this dichotomy in droves, bringing bright fuzzed-out synth rock that’s as restless as its subject matter.

The track’s sprawling sonic elements juxtapose the despondent manner of Josh Shabtai’s lyricism, which finds the narrator lamenting over an unsustainable hustle-heavy lifestyle. The subject is particularly prescient given that it was recorded back in 2019, before everyone’s world came to a screeching halt with the onset of Covid-19.

“[In NYC], I was living the stereotypical multiple-side-hustle life, making video games, playing in a band, working as a creative in advertising,” Shabtai shares. “I was literally pulling 16-to-18 hour days five to six days a week…I outright wrecked relationships, my mental health, and physical well being.”

It’s a feeling that many in our society can relate to, the everlasting grind of the gig economy with an ever-increasing amount of work that encompasses your whole ethos if you never pump the breaks. “I can’t slow down,” Shabtai sings over a slow strummed guitar at the song’s onset, only for the track to quickly unravel into a driving rhythm of guitar chugs, synth flares and crisp percussion.

L to R: Mitchell Franklin, Gabe Avant, Benjamin Fortenberry, Josh Shabtai, and Josh Durst. Photo: Graham Morrison

In terms of composition, the song rides a rollercoaster of dynamics, pushing and pulling at chunky guitar-heavy crescendos and dancey synth breakdowns. As swiftly as the song’s aural aspects switch, Shabtai’s lyrics and tone are doing the same. The song’s title alone bears a weight of fantastical whimsy, but from one hook to the next we see Shabtai shift from singing in an uplifting tone of “chasing super starlight” to being caught in “super dark times.”

“”Hyperdrive” is about the cycle of moving too fast, doing too much, fearing what’ll happen if you stop” Shabtai comments. “And loving/hating every second of it.”

L to R: Mitchell Franklin, Gabe Avant, Benjamin Fortenberry, Josh Shabtai, and Josh Durst. Photo: Graham Morrison

Despite the emotional depths that “Hyperdrive” delves into, the song always finds a way to swing back to cheerful highs; accomplishing the difficult task of crafting a fully fleshed out emotional journey in a matter of minutes. Shabtai’s unabashed manner of baring his soul makes the listener feel attached and frankly joyful by the time he lets us know that he’s “been building up a new foundation” and has “been working on [his] core every day.”

“Hyperdrive” is a song with rich storytelling and weighty emotional depth that digs deep and pays off in droves, showcasing a slew of talent and potential from Family Video.

Listen to the single “Hyperdrive” and the Future So Dark EP by Family Video. 

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