Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

In that way that sometimes happens, Allison Weiss fell right out of the clear blue sky. I didn't find her among the rubble on Spotify or Last.fm, I didn't hear her on the radio or read an article, I didn't hear her lyrics coming out a car window and look them up on the spot. I didn't do a damn thing, folks. This one was all Jenny Owen Youngs.

I'm just readin' my Twitter like you do and Jenny Owen Youngs is talking about her UK tour and I'm internal-grumblin' about how I want to watch Jenny Owen Youngs and she sends out this little deal right here:

And I basically just click that business on over to Allison Weiss' Twitter and next thing you know I'm listening to New Love on Spotify and then I'm buying New Love on Bandcamp and New Love is all I'm listening to because I'm in love with New Love and well, now we're here.

I'm not sure how to describe why I'm surprised that I am so enamoured of New Love. Indie pop doesn't usually set up shop in my ear like this, but there is something here that is pushing the right buttons in the right order. Just the right combination of some rockin' guitar and some 4/4 time and earnest lyrics and some reverb and I don't know, probably mermaid tears? Hippogriff talon? Owlbear hide? Something. I've barely been listening to this album for a month and I've woken up no less than two times whistling "Good Way". I don't even know. You win, Allison Weiss.

Well, I guess actually I win.

Good Way
Golden Coast

Where to find Allison Weiss:
Twitter: @allisonweiss
Website: allisonw.com

Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso

Sometimes, the music doesn’t click. You listen, you hear, but you don’t find it. It’s not there. Weeks, months, years later you come back and there it is. Like it was always there. And it kind of languidly stares over its metaphorical shoulder at you as if to indicate it was right there the whole time, where were you looking and you sort of semi shrug at the mental apparition and look abashedly at your hallucinatory shoes and think something empty and trite at it like “Brains are weird.” This was me and Sylvan Esso. They were recommended to me more than once, but I just couldn’t get it. It was my fourth full run-through of the album when it just, well happened. I felt it, and then I fell right into it. Full on heavy rotation, just like that. What are you gonna do, right?

Sylvan Esso, a duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, does an interesting thing well with their a-typical beats and electronic sparsity. Meath’s vocals are a treat, jazzy and round and at once contrasting and complementing the electronica while Sanborn mixes a wildly diverse catalog of sounds from buzzsaw bass lines to handclaps and street noise into a carefully weighted tapestry of rhythm and support. This type of expansive electronic mix is a genre I seem to find myself stumbling haphazardly into of late. On the surface, I think I’m attracted to the vocal stylings and the fearless use of space but there’s something else in there that feels like a reaction to the overproduced weightlessness of pop music, something artistically defiant. They seem to simplify where the other would pile layers, strip down when the other would build up. Though the sonic differences are clear, there is something here that I find common with just-posted HOLYCHILD, and I expect I’ll continue accidentally walking into these things now that this idea is locked in my brain.

As to this particular release, it feels as if there’s a zen, a feng shui of sound. It feels substantial but orderly, well built and expressive but in precise proportion. The acapella opening of "Hey Mami" with the great drop setup on the second chorus gives you a taste of things to come, leading into a series with highlights "Wolf" and "HSKT" up to the strongest track on the album, "Coffee", which deftly twists its melody from brooding to a very satisfying sort of resolved over the course of four and a half minutes. It winds down from there a bit, though I do enjoy "Play It Right".

Here are a couple but, as is MY WAY, I find the whole album lovely and you should really go buy it and listen to it in its completeness for that is how the music is best experienced in virtually every case and also how we get more of the good music.

Coffee
Hey Mami

Where to find Sylvan Esso:
Twitter: @sylvanesso
Website: sylvanesso.com

HOLYCHILD

HOLYCHILD

This here, this is something a little different.

How to describe HOLYCHILD’s debut album The Shape of Brat Pop To Come… It’s kind of like a dubstep beat truck driven by a disaffected, acerbic singer-songwriter crashing into a jazz factory that’s rented its back room out as a nightclub? I guess? I…really don’t know. They call themselves “brat pop”, as titularly indicated, and I like that as a descriptor. There’s definitely a thread of brat running through the whole thing, a sort of entitled “give no fucks” attitude that reaches from the lyrics through to the over-driven bass lines, and honestly that would be enough. If these kids were just making slick electro-dub pop and partying the party of youthe, that would be great and I’d listen to it like I listen to a lot of other cotton-candy music.

The thing about Liz Nistico and Louie Diller is they seem to pretty well think it’s all bullshit. All of it. Virtually every song on this album is holding a giant middle-finger-shaped mirror up to some construct of modern fame and pop culture and asking sarcastically if it’s fucking kidding them, cause it must be. It must be a joke cause it’s just too funny. There’s some pretty quality commentary in there if you're into that kind of thing.

Or you could just not. It’s great music and the sheen is quite high, you could definitely think soft and simply get down with these sick beats1and ignore the deep stuff.

You could.

Here are a couple. I toyed with the idea of putting some of the harsher drags from this album up, but I think these two are good cross-over tracks against the kind of music I normally sling around these parts while still directing some of the HOLYCHILD shine your way. If you wanna get IN IT, you should listen to "Running Behind", "Plastered Smile", "Tell Me How It Is", "Barbie Nation" and "Money All Around". And while you’re at it, really, just listen to all the others.

I’m gonna sneak in here and give you a pro-tip cause I’ve been there already: you need to let this album play. Some of these songs, I couldn’t hear anything I wanted in them the first time I put them on but I’m telling you there’s magic everywhere on this album. "Running Behind" starts off with a kind of dubby chopped-and-screwed aesthetic and then the chorus sneaks up on you with some, like, marimba? And melody? And then there’s a bridge? I mean, it’s just. There’s a lot going on. Just, keep the faith.

Best Friends
Monumental Glow

1: Used under license from Taylor Swift, ShakeItOff Inc, 198 9th St NY, NY. It’s Been Waiting For YouTM

Where to find HOLYCHILD:
Twitter: @holychild
Website: holychildmusic.com

Ryn Weaver

Ryn Weaver

So I’ve got a little something for you here. A little of that good good, you know what I mean? I’m not gonna lie, this stuff right here, this will mess you up. This will: Mess. You. Up. You don’t wanna get into this Ryn Weaver situation unless you’re looking for some of that Singapore Suites stuff. Some of that Grade A+. Uncut.

Yeah, I’m sick of that metaphor also.

Look, this is some crazy-town good music. Just, holy cow good. The Fool is an album I had taken to calling "Florence and the Machine Lite" but that’s not really what it is. That happens sometimes, she’s got a bit of a tendency toward the trilly vibrato, but it’s not a fair brush to paint the effort. This is something much harder to pin down. It has the lyrics of a singer-songwriter but music that goes the distance from a dubstep breakdown on "The Fool" to bare vocal a capella at the end of "Traveling Song". Despite the musical breadth there’s a thread that keeps the album coherent, a touch of vulnerability in Ryn Weaver that leads you along. Really, it feels a bit like an album that walks a tightrope. Sometimes the next song starts and you wonder if she’s lost her footing but never fear, Ryn Weaver keeps The Fool upright every time.

Here are two. I’d recommend you also listen to "OctaHate" (her breakout single), "Pierre", "Promises" and "Traveling Song". And all the other ones too.

Stay Low
The Fool

Where to find Ryn Weaver:
Twitter: @RynWeaver
Website: rynweaver.com

Lights

Lights

Yes. I did just do a Lights post, like, 10 minutes ago in CGPLS time. I know. I KNOW. Look, alright? I didn’t know this other album was out there. I didn’t know. It is so good and also so wildly different that it deserves…no, no it demands recognition. I was musically smitten with Lights before. Strongly Musically Smitten, official classification. I’m in Stage Ten Incurable Musical Love with her now. Good/Bad news, Lights: I’m here to stay. There’s a show in Phoenix next month that I think now qualifies as a Certified Moral Imperative.

The thing about Little Machines (and I expect you understand that there is no way for me to level criticism at Little Machines as I find it to be a virtually perfect electronic pop album so this is not and cannot be criticism, it is exposition for the purpose of demonstrating contrast) is that it is electronical as all get out. I love that about it. I love the synth-y joy and the effected everythings and it is a truly magical album. In a certain way though, it’s easy to lose sight of the pure musical artistry at work in the glorious electronic wonderland. That isn’t to say that I have any less respect for an electronic artist than I do for a more traditional artist, just that it’s easy to forget they’re both doing the same thing. It’s not common, in my experience, for great electronic artists to also be great acoustic artists and it is for that reason that Lights’ acoustic re-release of Siberia is truly a beautiful and unexpected surprise from an artist I had saddled with my own limited expectations.

I had listened to Siberia (the original) a little but I wasn’t really into it. It’s a sound that feels like a lower-gloss version of what happens on Little Machines and I just wasn’t there with it. I didn’t leave with any significant notion of any of the songs on the album and I contentedly moved back to playing Little Machines tracks on repeat, no harm, no foul. When I found out there was an acoustic follow-on to Siberia that stripped down the tracks, I had to give that a listen, right? So I did. What I found there were revelations, in the purest sense. Things. Were. Revealed.

First, Lights is a truly wonderful vocalist. I loved her over electronic music, but I can die happy now with her over a solo acoustic guitar or a grand piano. Just beautiful. Delicate, affected, expressive, novel phrasings, breathy falsetto. So so good.

Second, her electronic songs have amazing arrangement potential for acoustics. This is not a thing I’ve found to be any sort of given, it must be treasured and the rare opportunity is not squandered here. There’s no overproduction, no unnecessary complication. Everything feels necessary and deliberate. A string fill here, some reverb there, but in concert with the instrumentals. So good.

Third, she knows Cœur de pirate. I love every single conceivable thing about that. The first time I was working through a full play-through of this album I was about half-way in and I distinctly remember thinking “It would be amazing if she did a song with Cœur de pirate. I hope that happens” and then track seven came on, “Peace Sign” and the second verse was in…French. And I had not, to this point, known Lights, though a Canadian, to sing in French. I was contemplating how much different she sounded in French and whether that was just related to the language differences or if there was an electronic effect in play or maybe it was recorded at a different time and the other half of my brain that isn’t a pedantic mess mind-slapped me hard like “Hey. HEY. That’s Cœur de pirate, man. Get it together, you’re in the tall grass.” “Thanks, self. I’m here now. 5×5.” “Ok.”

Fourth, there’s no fourth. I’m just playing games with your heart now.

Here’s a couple. I don’t even. I mean, also listen to “Siberia” and “Suspension” and “And Counting…” and “Flux and Flow” and “Peace Sign” and do you get it yet you have to listen to the whole album why are you still reading go listen to it right now.

GO.

Banner
Heavy Rope

Where to find Lights:
Twitter: @lights
Website: music.iamlights.com