cute girl

Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens

I'm gonna keep it simple on this one. First, hot knowledge bomb for you. Her name is not Christine. It's Héloïse Letissier, which may be the most French name I've ever seen, and I keep pronouncing it in a truly awful French accent in my head over and over. I'm talking Steve Martin in The Pink Panther bad, here.

But never mind that. Brass tacks: "Tilted" is one of the best songs I've heard in a long, long time. Thick and round and warm and then she does the spoken word in French and...::sigh:: I want to wrap myself up in this song and stay there. It's synth-y heaven. "Paradis Perdus" I love for the Kanye "sample". She really does justice to it and since she sings the rest of the song in French, of course I adore it even though I have no idea what it means. I understand the lyrics are from a '70s French song of the same title, but I wouldn't understand it any better on the original recording, so this is just gonna be a CatQ song for me.

Tilted
Paradis Perdus

Where to find Christine and the Queens:
Twitter: @QueensChristine
Website: christineandthequeens.com

PS: I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't also point you to the video for "Tilted". It's kind of an avant-garde pop-n-lock modern dance showcase, and it is mesmerizing and wonderful and I keep watching it:
Tilted (Official Video)

Honestly if I ever moved like that I'd probably need to see a doctor.

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

Fleurie

Fleurie

Her eyes kind of look right into you, don’t they?

It is only recently that I’ve become aware of Fleurie, though the Fear & Fable EP I’m currently wearing a figurative hole through was released in 2013. Once again our ever-generous overlord The Great and Powerful Spotify has gifted me with bounteous musical joy and once again the beneficiary of such is you, dear, silent, likely imaginary, reader. The good news is that she has new music on the horizon, so, soon there will be more than this.

Before you wonder if we’re once again in an episode of “Music Adam Listens To In Foreign Languages He Does Not Understand”, fear not. Though her nom de plume is of the French persuasion, her songs are in English delivered by way of Nashville, though as I understand it, she hails originally from Michigan. Her sound is sparse in a powerful way, overlaid by a delicate vocal style that plays beautifully through both piano and guitar driven arrangements that share as much with a rougher indie style as a retail-ready sound you might hear on a finer radio station or television soundtrack. I’m honestly quite surprised I haven’t heard her on a show yet, “Hymn” and “There’s a Ghost” have a quality about them that I’d find very comfortable over a montage.

I capital-A Adore “Chasing All The Stars” and I’m listening to it non-stop with the same sort of casual indifference Yogi Bear shows toward picnic baskets. I’m also including the amazingly strong at a mere two minutes “I Never Wanted”. Neither of these does much of a job at showing the other side of this album which is a little more energetic, but you can’t win ’em all, ok? Go get a copy and then you can know.

Chasing All the Stars
I Never Wanted

Where to find Fleurie:
Twitter: @fleuriemusic
Website: fleuriemusic.com

Zella Day

Zella Day

I’m back, folks. Welcome to 2015. I brought you something, today. Today, I brought you something.

I’m gonna lead off with a zinger: Zella Day is volcano set to erupt and cover the pop musical landscape in her hot fire and I’m gonna get you keyed in on this before she’s suddenly winning a Grammy Award and you’re wondering how someone this good slipped by you direct to Song of the Year. You. Are. Welcome. Unless you’ve already heard of her. Then, like, whatever, I try hard and your words hurt.

Number one: Spotify is great. I’ve said so before, but I wanted to let you know again. Before you get all “but the artists get no money” on me, I’m with you. They don’t, it sucks, and if my not being a subscriber would change that for the better, I’d cut them off right now and join Taylor Swift on the sidewalk with a picket sign. Unfortunately, this is where we live now, so I’ve chosen to take on the use of Spotify for screening purposes, that is, I take all the music I think I should listen to and I put it in a playlist and listen to it. If it’s good, I go buy it from somewhere else. Ok? Internet? I’m a stand-up guy, I like my artists to make more music. The value Spotify brings to my process is immediate and ubiquitous access to a stupefying mountain of music and within this gargantuan mass, there are precious materials and much as I have previously done with such things as Last.fm and Bandcamp, I now mine this resource with a jaunty tune in my heart and carefully pick-axe the overburden to reach the hidden golden rewards.

I was recommended her "Seven Nation Army" cover and with it being immediately and ubiquitously available (you see what I did there) I listened to it. It’s basically a song constructed of the things you might use to bait me into a bear trap and so I’m flibberin’ my gibbets, as you might expect, and I pull up her artist page and there’s more songs! But not a lot of songs which means either she’s got a 20 year library of indie label things I’ll never find or I’m basically on the ground floor which is my favorite place to be. So I just threw them all in my playlist and filed it away for later. A thing I learned when I came back to that playlist that you can know now: "Seven Nation Army" is something Zella Day did, but it is NOT what Zella Day DOES.

What Zella Day does is…hm. Well, you see, it’s…::sigh::. Electro…rock../pop…songs. Inspired, vaguely melancholy and downright lovely, songs. There are skittering shadows of Lana Del Rey here, it’s an unavoidable comparison, but there’s always been a kind of film, a grime, for me, on the sound of LDR songs and that is not here. These are crisp and gorgeous and I’m telling you as soon as "Hypnotic" hits the radio in a real way, the kids will catapult her to the moon and in place of a Dark Lord we will have a Queen, not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn. ::ahem::

Now for some comedy: I just track-name dropped "Hypnotic" and I’m not wrong about it, but I’m not gonna give it to you. Do your own homework. I like "Sweet Ophelia" better, so you get "Sweet Ophelia". And "Seven Nation Army" cause it’s important to know where we came from. I defy you to stop yourself from getting the rest of her available output. She’s even got a couple remixes out that are really great. Just… Look. Just go buy it. I’m tellin’ you.

Seven Nation Army
Sweet Ophelia

Where to find Zella Day:
Twitter: @zelladay
Website: zelladay.com