Rob Beloved and Eleni Binge hated living in New York City, but at least they got a good album out of it.
“It was terrible,” Binge said from her home in Philadelphia. “It was soul-draining, and that’s what the album is about, to some extent.”
The couple that founded Beloved Binge has found happiness in Philly since moving there in early 2018. But they’re excited about this week’s return to North Carolina, where they lived for more than 10 years. Beloved Binge performs at Monstercade tonight, Oct. 24, amid other shows across the state, from Greenville to Asheville.
They share the bill locally with Them Pants, a new band led by Rick Randall of Alternative Champs, and Lofield, a Winston-Salem collective led by Adam Norris. Lofield released its debut album, “Hiraeth,” earlier this year, blending lush soundscapes with elements of metal and hip-hop.
Beloved Binge just released its sixth album, “Signals.” It’s an adventurous mix of down-tuned guitars, atonal vocals, and lyrics that are alternately dark and funny. (The first line of the first song: “Nothing kills a party like a sudden death.”) Binge and Beloved’s vocals fall somewhere between Kimya Dawson and Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches and Exene Cervenka and John Doe of X. Binge sings and plays drums, guitar, bouzouki and bass uke, along with less traditional instruments like keys and license plate. Beloved sings and plays guitar and drums.
The group’s attempts at describing their sound are almost as creative as the music itself. They have characterized themselves as an “Island of Misfit Toys band,” “Philly misfi jangle pop” and “perfectly disheveled high-tension pop in a punk pot with a hint of old Greek mountain village uprising.” They formed as a duo in 2002, though they recently added a third member.
The members of Jews and Catholics, a Winston-Salem duo active from 2005 to 2014, got to know Beloved Binge after the group moved to Durham in 2005. Beloved Binge was like an institution when they lived and performed in the Triangle, according to Alanna Meltzer-Holderfield, who played upright bass in Jews and Catholics.
“Their quirky, bubbly brand of indie pop-rock with punk, DIY roots blends and bends genres and is always entertaining,” she said. “Rob and Eleni’s performances are lighthearted and lively. They are both such talented multi-instrumentalists who also happen to be the sweetest of people.”
Eddie Garcia, who played guitar in Jews and Catholics and now performs as 1970s Film Stock, describes Beloved Binge as “a more punky Violent Femmes.” He liked them as people and admired them as artists and music professionals.
“I remember Alanna and I being really impressed early on that they were so organized,” Garcia said. “I know it’s not the coolest thing to talk about, but now that I’ve been doing this forever, I know you have to be organized if you have any goals. Eleni was one of the first people I met that had a spreadsheet with all her core contacts.”
He also admires the way the members of Beloved Binge sing about issues important to them, such as food and veganism.
“It’s cool the way they put the things they’re passionate about it into their music,” Garcia said. “It’s direct and sort of like a punk rock kinda thing: ‘Here’s what important to me, and I’m gonna sing about it.’”
Jamie McLendon also praises Beloved Binge’s punk ethos. He lives in Durham and has performed with the bands Dom Casual, Thee Dirtybeats and El Mirage.
“They are true DIY stalwarts and gracious, generous people,” McLendon said. “They are fun-loving, infectiously happy, down-to-earth folks who have never let go of their pioneering punk spirit.”
That DIY spirit shines through on “Signals.” After 17 years as a group and following their dispiriting stint in the Big Apple, Beloved Binge was in no hurry to make a new record. But things changed when a Drexel University student, Matt Squires, saw the group perform after their move to Philly. He had access to recording studios as a music student, and ended up playing bass and keyboards after he convinced Binge and Beloved to lay down some new tracks.
After years of recording in a hurry on tight budgets, they enjoyed the opportunity to stretch out in the studio across multiple sessions and experiment with unusual equipment configurations.
“We didn’t argue a lot, which is rare for recording, especially as a couple,” Binge said. “Matt was really calm and mature for his young years.”
“Usually when we do an album, we just play the songs a lot and then go in for a weekend and hammer it out and we’re done,” Beloved added. “But we had a long period of time to play around.”