Trying to get into music that none of your friends are listening to? Maybe you want to hit peak hipster and feel better than everyone else and say, “Oh, you probably haven’t heard of them before.” Well, I’ve got you covered. Coming in at roughly 400 monthly Spotify listeners, I give to you my newest indie obsession: Tiberius.
Tiberius is one of those projects that’s both kind of a band; and also just one person making the music (and enlisting their friends to help perform said music live). The genre is alternative/indie rock, born from the mind of Brendan Wright, who uses they/he pronouns. Wright is the producer, writer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist of this sort-of-band. Originally, Tiberius was just Wright themself, but in 2021 the project expanded to include longtime collaborator Kelven Polite on bass, as well as Ben Currel on drums and Christian Pace on guitar.
With inspirations like Car Seat Headrest, Phoebe Bridgers, and Courtney Barnett, Tiberius’s discography is as much of a collection of independent albums as it is a cohesive whole. Each album has its own distinctive sound, feeling, and narrative to it, yet coalesce to paint the broader picture that is the musical journey of the project. Currently, Tiberius has three complete albums out, and one live recording EP.
“Don’t Let Your Light Fade, Ya Little Disco Ball” was Tiberius’ debut album, released in 2017. It marks the start of Wright’s journey into DIY music, with its large use of samples and raw, emotional lyricism.
Tiberius’ second album, “A Depressing Optimism,” features more self-critical lyrics and melancholy vibe compared to the project’s other works. The sophomore album plays with narrative, by having a storyline that unfolds piece by piece at the end of each track. This underlying storyline follows the fictional characters of Jonah and Ella, as Jonah’s behavior slowly leads to a falling out with Ella. As the album progresses, we are given more and more insight into the fallout between the two. Masterfully produced, it follows a story of moving through the motions of despair and depression, which ultimately culminates in the idea that we may hold onto things that don’t seem to matter, but that is the point of life and what gives it meaning — that even if we are insignificant in the universe, that is exactly what allows us to define our lives and our own happiness. Even if we are just a speck of dust in the grand scheme of the universe, we are all special in some way. Tiberius’ “A Depressing Optimism” pulls its name from his happy nihilism, this sentiment especially prominent in tracks “Knots,” “Perceptual Reality,” and the powerful finale, “Spiral.”
Tiberius’s third and most recent album “Lull” takes on a new sound that shares similarities with “A Depressing Optimism,” yet still sounds fresh and new. I like to think of this album as the ultimate album of college-aged sadness. “Lull” carries a steady emotional throughline in every track that manages to relate spectacularly to the classic dreads we faced in our college years. Overall, the album is underpinned by the yearning to be better, emotionally and mentally. The track that stands out the most on this album, and one of my favorite songs of all time, is “Pale Ale.” This track explores the feeling of falling in love in college, and the anxious hell that can arise when we don’t know what we want or what the future holds, over some sick indie rock. Beyond this, the title track “Lull” and the final two songs of the album “Devoid” and “Brooksvale Park” also stand out, and further capture the emotional through line that carries the album.
Each album pushes the limits of convention, and details a journey of DIY mastery over music. Don’t expect to see Tiberius selling out stadiums, but for those in the Allston area of Massachusetts, you can expect to catch them at a variety of local venues and house concerts. Overall, Tiberius’s discography is a menagerie of masterfully crafted albums that will not hesitate to cut you to your core while simultaneously making you rethink the way in which you view life.