My ears haven’t been to the ground much lately to hear what’s coming up from under it, so Sylvan Esso’s forthcoming album has been revelatory to me this past week. “Coffee” is the first – and obvious – single from the album, and it’s indicative of what listeners can expect from the rest of Sylvan Esso – sparse electronic flair from Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn underneath Amelia Meath’s compelling vocals.
This is an album of such contrasting ideas that somehow work seamlessly together, spinning out in directions this listener never expected. The first song, “Hey Mami” made me think I had the duo’s style pegged – up until the minute-thirty mark when the wobbling bass line kicked in and shot any pigeonholing I had in mind straight to hell. Unconsciously I found myself holding my breath at various points during the album’s nearly forty minute run time, as if any exhalation at all would blow the entirety of what had come before it away, drifting into the ether.
Sylvan Esso is a wholly refreshing effort that maintains an air of the unpredictable, even after repeated listens. I’m still finding myself surprised after a half-dozen listens or so, and coming from me, that’s saying something.
Sylvan Esso is out next Tuesday – May 13 – through Partisan Records.
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It’s been three years, nearly to the day, since I first heard Vacationer’s fantastic “Trip.” Their debut album, Gone, released in 2012, was one of my personal favorites of that year – all smoothed over like sea glass and perfect for backyards and sunshine.
Now, I’m not sure that a band that bills itself as the “Eastern Seaboard’s Foremost Relaxation Specialists” is going to stray significantly from the niche they have clearly carved out for themselves. And with this new track, “The Wild Life,” the band is still perched barefooted on that new-tropical branch. But what had once sounded like a respite from whatever else was happening in the music world now sounds like a warmed-over revisiting of the path they’ve already led us down, imploring the listener to opt for abandoning plans instead of tending to whatever responsibilities they might have.
Is it catchy? It is decidedly so. Is it groundbreaking? Outlook not so good. That’s not to say the rest of the album is going to be the same, but with this as the lead single, my hopes aren’t particularly high.
Relief, Vacationer’s sophomore effort, will see the light of day on June 24th through Downtown Records.
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I suppose its somewhat fitting that I am lured back to blogging by a song titled “Eurydice.” If your grasp on Greek mythology is rusty, here’s a short take:
Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who died after being bitten by a viper. Distraught, Orpheus traveled to the Underworld and played music so beautiful that Hades agreed to let her return with him, on the condition that he walk in front of her and not turn back to look at her until they reached the upper world. Of course Orpheus, being impatient and untrusting of Hades (who could blame him), turned back to see Eurydice prior to her crossing the threshold from the Underworld to the upper, and she was taken back.
Now, I’m not saying that this “Eurydice,” the second single from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s upcoming third album, is enough to make Hades change his mind about a dead significant other, but it’s enough to warm the cockles of this jaded blogger’s heart. And that’s plenty good enough for me.
Days of Abandon is due out on May 13th through Slumberland Records, just in time for all your summertime road trips.
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It’s amazing how quickly time slips past us; I’ve posted on the blog literally ten times since the calendar turned to 2014. Considering that we’re already ninety-some days into the year, that’s not a great average.
But it’s been a great year to this point: I’m newly-engaged and learning to not call my fiancée “my girlfriend.” Old habits are truly hard to break. And with that engagement comes all kinds of busyness: scouting locations, deciding on what food 180 people will be allowed to eat, what we want to listen to throughout the reception, colors, flowers, ties, dresses, etc. There are myriad things available for which I never knew there could even be options.
Bringing things back to music, I’ve been spending 2014 looking backwards, in part because of the engagement, so I’ve been looking for specific types of songs – old soul in the vein of Freddie Scott’s “You (Got What I Need).” That’s led me down rabbit holes into a lot of Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley and into my live Van Morrison bootlegs and recently into Simon & Garfunkel. My time with new music has been limited, and I’m enjoying thumbing through old records at the shops for albums I never would have dreamed of previously, or discovering The Mad Lads, or needing to listen to all of Stevie Wonder’s output with fresh ears.
It’s been rewarding to tap back into this great wealth of music that so often goes unnoticed by the bleeding edge blogosphere to discover this vast expanse of new-to-me music. I mean, I’ve listened to Howlin’ Wolf’s “Moanin’ at Midnight” two dozen times this year. It’s likely that my most played list for 2014 won’t have much representation from the twelve months that preceded it.
And that process has been doing me so much good. I’m losing some of the jaded veneer that I’ve so snarkily cultivated when it comes to what I like. Music should be enjoyed, and dredging up all this great stuff from the past has enabled me to do exactly that again.
Record Store Day, that annual celebration of all things limited, local, and vinyl, is exactly one month from today. The floodgate of releases has opened, with the extensive list of things to drool over and subsequently save for taking shape. I personally haven’t done much list scouring, but the two I have seen that I really want are the Sunny Day Real Estate split 7” (because who doesn’t want new SDRE?) and the live EP from Tame Impala.
Creatively called Live Versions, the EP features eight tracks culled from the Aussie band’s live show – specifically a 2013 show in Chicago, handpicked by the lead singer to showcase versions that were substantially different from what fans already have on the studio albums. This track, “Be Above It”, is the second to last on the EP, and first on the band’s sophomore album, and while the first few minutes feel familiar, the band turns its Sixties stoner-psych to 11 in the second half.
Record Store Day is Saturday, April 19, and if you happen to be in the record stores around Rochester and prevent me from getting my copy of Live Versions, you’re in for a world of pain, my friends.