When I first heard the first single “Solar Laws” from Katonah, NY exports Yellerkin I was instantly enamored. Of this there was no denying. The vivacious energy and seamless blend of the then duo’s musicianship not only capitalized on the potential for infectious genre-blurring pop but hinted at a knack for pitch perfect songcraft that’d serve them well in the future. Yellerkin’s at their best when utilizing the talents of all of its members – Adrian Galvin’s emotive vocals and effervescent charm paired with Luca Buccellati’s electronic wizardry and rock solid supporting role.
While the Yellerkin live set has evolved from quintet to a modest trio including Tei Shi drummer Gabe Smith, the one constant is the twosome at the center of the experimental pop maelstrom and “Tools” is an example of the brilliant effects of Galvin and Buccellati in total consonance. “Tools” resembles generic pop structure but inverts it a little – featuring the harmonic howled chorus first and foremost before things set off in divergent but surprising parallel paths. “Tools” shows a remarkable amount of subtlety – embroiled for much of its duration in a sort of tonal ebb and flow that finally rises towards a full on synth-pop explosion that feels earned after about three minutes of teasing.
On “Tools”, Yellerkin show exceptional growth embarking on the electronic direction they want to pursue without losing sight of the much straight forward pop elements at their inception and hints at exciting things after the release of their self-titled EP earlier this year. Here’s hoping it’s not too long before we get a glimpse at what else Yellerkin have up their sleeve but until then “Tools” will make good company.
I remember the very first time I ever heard Devendra Banhart’s voice. I remember thinking of the quote Jimi Hendrix said about “how he sees music in colors” and thinking Banhart had vocal chords that had to be painted in a swatch labeled “ROYGBIV”. Despite lacking a sonic case of synesthesia myself, Banhart’s voice had an eccentric narrative quality that matched his own homeless-guy-on-the-streets to record-releasing-indie-artist fairy tale. Last week, fully reaping the benefits of living in Nashville, I saw a last minute show during Americana Fest at Jack White’s Third Man Records and can now say I remember the very first time I saw Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear live.
Ward’s voice has a strange texture; rich and dramatic as if it wants to bellow big enough for an opera house, yet strained with the shards of emotion that litter the generational voices of soul singers. Then there are the different vocal personalities he portrays, like that of Frank Black or Isaac Brock, Ward throws his voice from falsetto yelps to low growls in an instant while retaining the same familiarity despite leaping across an emotional spectrum too varied for even legendary high school guidance counselors. Check out “Silent Movies” to see what I mean:
Then there is the excellent extracurricular story that publicists, journalists, labels, managers, and fans alike are going to adore. Madisen Ward is accompanied by his guitar wielding, backup-singing mother to make this a duo unlike any other. Like Jade Castrinos and Victoria Bergsman once did for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Peter Bjorn and John respectively, the Mama Bear adds an understated female element you can’t imagine the song without once hearing her sing. During the show I saw, which captivated 100+ industry types in sheer silence, she commented about her guitar when handing it to her son, “I bought that guitar in 1979. I never knew that I would have son who would be playing it. That’s pretty cool.”
Also cool: everything about this Independence, Missouri duo, including the strong set of songwriting chops Ward possesses. I hope they’re ready for a fun and fast ride.
Heard about these guys from a bandcamp staff pick a couple months back, they seem to be blowing up in their hometown of Paris and elsewhere in Europe. Moodoïd is much more than glittery makeup, umlauts and great hair, especially once you’ve heard album standout “La Lune”. It’s an anthemic homage to our closest celestial neighbor, teeming with baroque-pop and jazzy bridges and shimmering vocal harmonies.
Le Monde Möö is Moodoïd’s fïrst albüm. Grab yourself a copy here »
ps- makeup game is on point though, f’real
I’ve been shredding to this song since we first heard the demo early in the year, and I’m beyond thrilled to share it with everyone I possibly can. Francisco The Man‘s “Big Ideas”, a blisters-on-my-fingers sort of single, the one I always knew these good old boys would produce. Maybe a bit of a conflict of interest, as this is a Small Plates co-release with Fat Possum, but trust me… Just listen, you’ll get it:
Francisco The Man’s debut LP Loose Ends is out October 28th. Preorder (on gorgeous, limited red vinyl) here »
Previously: “Progress” MP3 | “Broken Arrows” MP3
Here’s the stunning video from Swedish director NEZ of Riff Raff Films for minimalist Lithuanian house artist Ten Walls. If you’re wondering about the flying/diving effect, it’s called Flyboarding and it’s a very real thing.