George Ezra, St. Vincent and More Music Discoveries
"Young musicians and bands can often be some of the most exciting as they navigate their influences and exactly what they want to sound like."
This week on the WERS 7 o’clock news, we reveled in the return of St. Vincent, welcomed the whimsy Nashville natives Sunseeker, head banged to a Deerhoof track, and jammed out to George Ezra’s extremely poignant new single. Check out what the WERS music staff has to stay about the songs you’ve just heard below and tune in next week for more music discovery on the 7 o’clock news!
Annie Clark; one of the most electric and intriguing guitar players of the moment makes her return; without her signature instrument. “New York” is short, direct, guitar free, and heart breaking. The two and a half minute lament to lost friendship is driven by piano, a kick drum, and a rich layering of Clark’s vocals. The effect is one of an astronaut coming to earth again bringing great wisdom from her travels. On her previous two albums, Clark’s guitar playing had gotten increasingly intricate at times - verging on bizarre. Here, she returns to the piano based sound that drove her very first album. “New York” isn’t a step back though; the lyrics bespeak a newly confident, it-world weary woman.
No album announcement yet, but St. Vincent’s Fear the Future will be at the House of Blues on November 30th.
WON'T KEEP ME UP
Young musicians and bands can often be some of the most exciting as they navigate their influences and exactly what they want to sound like. Part of the thrill of discovering a new band is seeing them grow between releases. With Sun Seeker, however, the group of 21-year-olds has a surprisingly mature and polished sound that would make anyone second guess the fact that their most recent EP is also their first.
Though this quartet self-describes and is often referred to as a psychedelic rock band, their sweet simplicity often more resembles bands they said have influenced them, like Pavement and The Band, than other psychedelic rock contemporaries like Tame Impala or Temples. Perhaps this is also because they have a distinctly more “American” sound than the other British psych bands currently dominating. As Sun Seeker came up in the Nashville scene, with their three core members meeting in high school and bonding over live music, they have absorbed many of the influences right in front of them. Their new EP, Biddeford, keeps their music just as local, as it was put out through Jack White’s Third Man Records, which is also based in Nashville.
"Won’t Keep Me Up At Night" certainly explores all these influences, and features lead singer Alex Benick in a state of contemplation and longing. Benick has said that this song is about the years after high school where he split from his peers, choosing to work on a farm in Maine while his friends instead went to college. The hidden fear at going off on his own and choosing a different path comes through in the wistful delivery of the lyrics. As the guitar follows Benick’s melody, you can almost hear his anxiety even though the song at first glance is breezy and sunny. Similarly to much of Whitney’s music, it’s easy to pretend the song is a beautiful, easy summer song, but it can be much more rewarding to take a full look. Biddeford, named after the town in Maine where Benick farmed, was just released July 14th.
For their more than 20 years of creating music, Deerhoof has been a consistently exciting group, pushing what could be easily digestible and fun rock into a much more experimental direction.
Consider this latest single: at under 3 minutes, it manages to fit almost three different songs into one in a way that still sounds cohesive, beginning with a pretty, bluesy rock guitar, then morphing into more of a funk track to highlight rapper Awkwafina. The last part, which at first seems the most straightforward, actually allows singer Satomi Matsuzaki to have an interesting interplay between her soft, almost spoken delivery and a powerful guitar melody that rips every single time.
This is an especially exciting song as it allows for the first recorded collaboration between Awkwafina and Deerhoof, though the band is careful to note that it is strictly not their first collaboration “as both Satomi and Greg have guested on ‘My Vag’ [Awkwafina’s viral track] onstage. But this call-and-response is our first co-composition.” (Steryogum.com) These two artists at first seem very different, not just because Awkwafina was only born 9 years before Deerhoof released their first album, but because she is an actress who has been on MTV’s Girl Code, Neighbors 2, and will be in the upcoming Ocean’s Eight, and her fan base definitely skews younger and more “millennial” due to her witty songs that will often make the listener laugh out loud.
However, both Awkwafina and Deerhoof are actually outspoken about certain political or social issues, and Deerhoof wrote that this song grew out of their observations about the political climate and Americans “turning away from witless neoliberal politicians who exploit fear to amass more power for themselves”(Steryogum.com). Also, fitting into both of their slightly “weird” personas, this song was released in collaboration with the Adult Swim Singles Program, and it certainly lives up to the offbeat brand of Adult Swim.
Either way, no matter what your personal beliefs and politics are, it is easy to appreciate this truly interesting and fun track that shows how experimental rap and rock can easily work together. Deerhoof’s new album Mountain Moves drops September 8th and Awkwafina will appear in many film and television projects in the upcoming year.
DON'T MATTER NOW
The English crooner George Ezra rose to fame with his show-stopping anthem “Budapest” in 2013 and has been quite the indie darling since then. Citing Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as his main musical influences, Ezra incorporates so much wisdom and introspection into his lyrics that it’s hard to believe he’s only 24. On his newest single “Don’t Matter Now” Ezra candidly discusses his struggles with anxiety and how he copes with negative feelings. When he chatted with NME, Ezra states that he wrote ‘Don’t Matter Now’ to remind himself that “it’s okay to take yourself away from situations from time to time.”
“Don’t Matter Now” was written around 2015, but Ezra is resurrecting the song now because “the song has made more sense as time has gone on.” Although Ezra treads around a heavy topic with his new single, he is using his song as a platform to remind his listeners that they are not alone if they struggle with anxiety and to not sweat the small stuff; the track is almost so carefree that it’s extremely cathartic in itself. His new album Dog Days is slated for release later this year.