There must be something in the coffee this week because we are cutting a rug and dancing through our desks and through the studio this week. Or maybe we are just happy that it finally feels like summer. Or maybe it’s because we had so many artists come through our studio to perform last week and we had great conversations. We were able to mic up both Moon Taxi and Sylvan Esso last week and they told us the songs that they can’t stop listening to. Check ‘em out for yourself.
Marian Hill- “One Time”
It was the jazz singers whom we first fell in love with: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, and my favorite, Peggy Lee. It is a lone female voice, accompanied by minimal instrumentation. They sang in darkened rooms, with smoke billowing, as they snapped their fingers to the beat of an upright bass and a brush of a drum. Eventually the spotlight moved from the stage to the dance floor and it looked like there might not be a place for slow and sultry.
Until now. We are falling in love with jazz singers again.
But this time, they have traded the upright bass for an Ableton beat pad and their drum brush with a loop pedal. They have gone electronic, but they are keeping it minimal, and letting their voices make the song swing. Female vocalists singing over minimal electronic beats. A succession of sultry, a new wave, a re-birth of the cool.
Marian Hill’s debut EP, Play, is available now.
Listen if you like: Peggy Lee, Oh Land, Sharon Van Etton, Lorde
Moon Taxi’s pick: Billy Joel- “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
Last week Moon Taxi was in our studio and as they were hanging around the office pre-show, we struck up a long conversation about music. Wes Bailey, their man on the keys took the lead on the conversation and once we got to the booth Wes was explaining to me how Billy Joel had a strong influence on him and on the band as well. Listen to Wes’s introduction to the song in the soundcloud link above.
“Scenes from an Italian Resturant” was released on Billy Joel’s album The Stranger, released in 1977.
Listen if you like: Ben Folds, Randy Newman, killer piano solos
Crash- “Motion Animal”
This song is the elation of moving past a bad situation . Leaving it all behind. And being able to breathe fresh air again, and feeling downright good about it. This songs is about a break up. And many artists use a song as a blanket and wrap themselves up in self-pity. Not this one. He’s movin’ past. He’s knocking on the front door of the unknown with a smile on his face and the wink of an eye.
As well as moving past a bad situation, “Motion Animal” is about groovin’. This is sensual R&B baby making dance music. Done so over the top that it’s funny at times. It makes me want to bring my arms in way close to my body pop my pelvis ever so slightly, biting my lip in a way that (in my head is far sexier than it actually is). Sensual R&B is the music of opportunity. And that’s just what this song is about.
Crash’s album, Hardly Criminal, is available now.
Listen if you like: Slow Club, baby makin’ music, the white Barry White
Grimes (feat. Blood Diamonds)- "Go"
SO there is this obsession in music with “the Drop” right now. If you’re unfamiliar, the drop is the point in a song where the music literally drops, usually into booming bass after a textural build up, typically in Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. It’s a musical climax.
The drop is the musical climax taken to its logical conclusion. Most musical genres have a musical peak. It’s what makes you want to listen to a song over and over. Like a novel, its just good storytelling. Opera singers sang arias, Rock music has a chorus. Pop songs have a musical “hook”, and now, EDM has “the drop.” The intent of the musical climax is to build anticipation through verses and bridges which act as hills and valleys, taking you through a musical sounds cape. You pass through a chorus, music’s highpoint, you leave it and then you come back a second or third time. EDM doesn’t do this. Instead of rolling through the country looking at beautiful hills. EDM’s drop takes you to Mount Everest, on a monster truck. It eliminates other structural elements of a song and focuses on creating tons of momentum with a huge, satisfying payoff.
While it has remained primarily in the realm of the specific sub-genre, Electronic Dance Music, it has also been seeping into “indie” music, and finding a balance point. More like the Appalachians than Mount Everest. “Go” still has that satisfying drop, but works as a songs as well. This is Grimes, with “Go”
A new Grimes album will be released sometime in an unannounced future, and “Go” is available as a single on iTunes.
Listen if you like: Summer anthems, dancing your face off, Rihanna
(Apparently the song has been taken off soundcloud, so if you want to listen, check the soundcloud link at the top just after the 17 minute mark)
Sylvan Esso’s pick: Jessy Lanza- “Keep Moving”
Sylvan Esso stopped in our studio before destroying the PBR Block Party in Bay View last week. Beatmaker/producer/vocalist/half the duo/Milwaukee native Nick Sanborn sat down in the booth with me and we talked about our favorite artists right now. He was such a nice, genuine, honest, and funny guy. Check out what he says about Jessy Lanza’s song in the soundcloud link above.
Jessy Lanza’s album, Pull My Hair Back, is available now.
Listen if you like: Sylvan Esso, late night dance music, How To Dress Well
Sorry about the audio quality on this interview. I had the wrong mic on. I make mistakes. But I felt that what he had to say trumped the audio quality, so I kept it.
BONUS TRACK: Open Mike Eagle (feat. Hannibal Burris)- “Doug Stamper”
On this track Open Mike Eagle features the hilarious Hannibal Burris and together they give helpful advice to those in need, like, “if you ever find yourself in Southern Illinois cop a mixtape from DJ Snowy Boo Boo,” and, “With your phones, get the family pack with a big data plan.” I couldn’t play this song on air because it has far too many obscenities that the FCC frown on, but I had to share it with you because I can’t stop listening to this track.