cute girl but also a dude

Marian Hill

Marian Hill

Come with me on a vision quest for a minute. Picture the word "slinky" in your mind. No, dammit, not Slinky®. Slinky the adjective. Cat burglars and black dresses and smoky nightclubs, steamy noir streets, tuxedos and delicate curls of cigarette smoke against an inky sky, right? Now, imagine slinky as a sound. That's Marian Hill. That's what they do. It's jazz, it's dubtronica, it's chill tempos, thick bass and sultry melodies that radiate classy cool while they whisper untoward nothings in your ear.

Marian Hill is a Philly export, nominally composed of vocalist Samantha Gongol and electronic producer/artist Jeremy Lloyd. Their current LP, Sway, also heavily features jazz player/saxmaster Steve Davit, for the betterment of all mankind, I assure you.

Look, I didn't want to tell you this way, but you've got a fever. And the only cure is more saxamaphone. Luckily, Marian Hill is here to save you.

Got It

Where to find Marian Hill:
Twitter: @MarianHillMusic

Light PS: they are well on their way to releasing their second album, ACT ONE, some songs from which are already available and in at least one case (Amazon) if you pre-order the album, you'll get the tracks as they release going toward the finish. Also, they've got a super cool looking murdered-out signed vinyl pre-order situation on their main site store, so also give that the 'ol eyeball. I am beset on all sides by temptation, reader.

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.

Hey Mami

Where to find Sylvan Esso:
Twitter: @sylvanesso



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

The Wind + The Wave

The Wind + The Wave

In a Quixotian tilting exercise, I endeavoured to take on use of a Windows Phone 8 device for a while. It was actually pretty good, but synchronizing music from a Mac to it was not, so I decided to take that opportunity to investigate a paid account with Spotify. I have to say I’ve been quite impressed with the catalog breadth and due to the excellent coverage, the rate at which I could take on new random music was increased immensely, not to mention they now send me these emails that say things like “You like (artist), you should listen to (new artist)” and these imperatives are eerily accurate (data mining is getting really effective). I tell you this such that you might have some context for where I found them and also as a sort of continuing thread that runs through many of my posts talking about my various music inputs. I now have a very lengthy offline playlist in my clients (I call it “The Fitting Room”. I’m really quite proud of myself for that one.) full of music to suss out. I suppose there is some method through which this playlist might be “followed”, as the kids say. I may consider making it public. I’m not sure you people want to see the sausage being made.

The Wind + The Wave is the first (of others, I expect) to shake themselves loose of their neighbors in The Fitting Room and become a constant target of my listening desire. Dwight A. Baker (The Wind, I believe) and Patricia Lynn Drew (The Wave, as I understand it) chose a very apt name for their collaborative effort as the melody sounds and rhythm noises they form from the formlessness are well described as a force of nature. Patricia’s voice is lovely and runs a nice gamut of texture from gravely and smokey to light and vulnerable, often put through a mild overdrive filter that gives the vocals a comfortable feel of vintage blues that compliments the arrangements that run throughout the album. She’s also not afraid to drop the f-bomb and I’m a sucker for some well placed cussin’. Dwight, being a successful record producer, songwriter and musician in his own right, brings to bear a wonderfully eclectic toolbox of sounds that makes them virtually impossible to put in a genre box. I tried. Bluegrass-pop? Alt-country? Southern-indie-folk-rock? Nothing fits. I think the genre here is “good music you want to listen to”. I feel like that fits pretty well. I’m putting all of them in the tags though. You can’t stop me.

Here are your two samples From The Wreckage (you see what I did there), the going rate, I believe. This album has such a breadth of sounds that I would caution you from making any generalized determinations without taking on the fullness of the experience. There is much to hear. So much. To hear.

With Your Two Hands
Every Other Sunday Morning

Where to find The Wind + The Wave:
Twitter: @TheWindTheWave

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars

Happy Valentines Day, reader. I say reader as I’m sure most of you have left this place for more frequently updated pastures, and I can hardly blame you. I have exceeded the one-year-without-posting hard rule and my shunning is required by internet law. However, I return penitent in hopes that I may pass with these offerings. I, however, make no assertions nor intend any implications that should indicate that I expect to post more anytime soon. I have a few queued up though. Maybe. If I get some comments on this post, well. Perhaps my exceeding egotism and/or guilt will require it.

I submit to you The Civil Wars. Is it bluegrass? Is it country? I find it labeled “folk rock” but I just don’t care for that. What it is, and it is this, is really really good.

Barton Hollow evokes a song I love by an artist I otherwise can’t find merit in: Home by Marc Broussard as heard on his album Carencro. To Whom It May Concern is a much more delicate piece of work. This metaphorical pony has tricks. With an s, my friends.

Barton Hollow
To Whom It May Concern