26 February 2017
Weekly Playlist 028: Listen To This vol. 1
by: Geoff Davis
This week marks the first volume of the Listen To This series of posts: I’ve selected 5 lesser-known bands that you need to check out; each band has 2 select songs included in this playlist. Each of the bands featured have lower than 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and are acts that I feel like more people should listen to. I’ve collected some thoughts on each band below, but if you’d like to get right to the music, head to the bottom of the page.
The first featured band is a Swedish indie pop act by the name of The Legends. Fronted by Johan Angergård, The Legends bring an ethereal, synth-heavy sound that floats behind Johan’s echoing, autotuned, and almost whispered vocals. The drum machine sounds and synth leads are reminiscent of more experimental 80s and 90s electronica, and are mixed in an artful manner, layering each backing element to perfectly compliment the next. Chosen songs “Winter Is The Warmest Season” and “Smoke and Mirrors” are both perfect examples of The Legends’ musical style, and are two of my favorite tracks by them; “He Knows The Sun”, “Keep Him”, and “Call it Ours” are also notable works. The tone of the vocals and their lyrics, chord progressions, and effects make The Legends a perfect listen for gloomy days, long night drives, and watching a fire dance in the fireplace of your family’s log cabin.
The Collection are a fantastically talented chamber folk outfit from North Carolina. I got the pleasure of seeing The Collection perform live as openers for The Oh Hello’s at Minglewood Hall in Memphis, and I was so enthused by their performance, I ended up buying a vinyl copy of their debut album, Ars Moriendi. The Collection, led by composer David Wimbish, features many songs exploring Christian spirituality, aided by a mixed bag of instrumental backing, from flutes, clarinets, horns, strings, woodwinds, and percussion of all types. I chose the track “Scalae Naturae” mostly because I loved the instrumental progession and the balladesque structure of the lyrics- discussing a difficult life and struggles of faith; “To Dust” reminded me of music you could find on a Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, or Oh Hello’s album, and again features lovely orchestral backing to a faith-struggling singer’s vocals. The Collection’s music is perfect for a picnic on a sunny day or during a early-morning drive along the coast, but would be best enjoyed in with headphones in, quietly contemplating the lyrics and deciphering the individual musical elements.
The third band featured in this list is Greyhounds. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Greyhounds are hard to pin down to a single genre, but feature a lot of elements from Blues, R&B, and Soul in their music. I also got to see this band as they opened for City and Colour at Minglewood Hall, and they definitely got the crowd ready by channelling the city’s bluesy past. “Cuz I’m Here” is my favorite song by them, and features an beautiful and subtle opening guitar riff that persists throughout the rest of the song; this track definitely sits closer to R&B but has some bluesy elements- like the flute solo in the middle of the song. Greyhounds’ music is best suited for a smoky basement’s lo-fi speaker system, or perhaps for an impromptu (swing) dance session in your apartment.
Next up is Keep Shelly In Athens, a dream/synth pop duo from Athens, Greece; they derive their name from Kypseli, a neighborhood in Athens, ie “Kypseli in Athens”. KSIA’s more atmospheric work reminds me a lot of Tycho or Beat Connection, while their vocal tracks are similar to acts like Purity Ring, M83, or CHVRCHES. “Recollection” is one of my favorite tracks at the moment, for the various electonic elements, beautiful synth lead melodies, and Sarah P.’s (singer at the time) vocals. Definitely give this band a listen; they would be great for your weekend sailing trip, looking out a rainy window at dusk, or for playing at a dance club while the DJ is at his bathroom break.
Last but not least, volume 1 ends with Vermont-based jam band Twiddle. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the band themselves, but I do know I’ll get a chance to see them this summer at Bonnaroo. Their music shares a lot of styles with traditional rock, reggae, and funk; regardless of the styling of the song, Twiddle is a super fun listen; don’t be afraid when you inevitably start bopping your head or tapping your foot in rhythm! “Lost in the Cold” and “Every Soul” are both wonderful songs, but also give “Syncopated Healing” and “Jamflowman” a listen. Twiddle’s music would be ideal for a beachfront party, hanging with family in your backyard during a warm summer afternoon, or for passing time while preparing your taxes.
Here are my picks for the week of February 20-26.
- Winter Is The Warmest Season – The Legends
- Smoke And Mirrors – The Legends
- Scala Naturae – The Collection
- To Dust – The Collection
- Cuz I’m Here – Greyhounds
- What’s On Your Mind – Greyhounds
- Fractals – Keep Shelly In Athens
- Recollection – Keep Shelly In Athens
- Lost in the Cold – Twiddle
- Every Soul – Twiddle