Sylvan Esso

Hans Island – Break Free

Mawhs and Marie Dahlstrøm’s last output as Hans Island yielded us the dusky “I’m Yours,” a love song which juxtaposed a tender message with production that boasted an Ex Machina level of electro sheen.

The duo’s newest record is “Break Free,” a self-affirming ode to unshackling ourselves from the weight of our past. The theme fits beautifully atop Mawhs’ instrumental work. While the bass and hand clap drums give it a more uptempo feel, there’s melancholy and a quiet defiance in the song’s wormy synth lines.

Like Sylvan Esso‘s Amelia Meath, Dahlstrøm’s voice is more human and accessible than many vocalists on electronic music. It’s lilting, but also resilient, capturing the difficult feeling of wanting to move on but not quite knowing what that entails.

“Break Free” has a message we can all relate to, but it’s in the chemistry of Mawhs and Dahlstrøm that the track achieves its humanity.

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Lollapalooza 2015: 10 Must-See Acts That Aren’t Headliners

With Lollapalooza about to hit Chicago like a fiery, musical comet this weekend, hundreds of thousands of concertgoers will flood Grant Park to witness the likes of Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence + The Machine, Sam Smith, and The Weeknd among others, rock the fuck out. Sure, the headlining acts typically prove to be the best sets. They’re polished, have an expensive stage design, and possess a catalog of hits that, in some cases (cough Sir Paul cough), stretches decades.

But what about the ‘little’ guys? The blog-certified up-and-comers. The indies about to boil to mainstream. The sub-headliners that could very well be taking the main stage in the not so distant future. Not to worry, we got your back. Here are the 10 Must-See Acts That Aren’t Headliners at Lollapalooza this year, conveniently broken down by day and set time.


BØRNS (5:40-6:20)

Believe it or not, Garrett Borns (or simply BØRNS) earned his chops as a professional magician before he hit it big with jams like “10,000 Emerald Pools.” Don’t miss his groovy, psychedelic brand of pop at Lollapalooza this year. He’s sure to have a trick or two up his sleeve.

Young Thug (6:50-7:30)

Thugga Thugga has been a surefire hit machine between his own cuts and guest verses alike. His eccentric flow, fashion-forward style, and summer-friendly beats will make for a must-see set on Friday night. I know there’s gonna be good times.

Sylvan Esso (7:45-8:30)

If you’re searching for something that’s equal parts folky and electronic, look no further than the duo Sylvan Esso. Chilled out, synthesized beats will meet seductive female vocals at this set. Expect lots of eyes closed swaying and swooning.

Hit the jump to continue reading…

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[Music Video] Sylvan Esso – Coffee

I got a message from a friend of mine yesterday letting me know that she was featured in a music video for a song called “Coffee” by a new(ish) band out of Durham called Sylvan Esso. She then told me that she got to know the band through her pilates teacher, who is married to one of the guys in a band called Megafaun.

I love when small world things like this happen. 

First of all, “Coffee” is one of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. (It made it onto my 2014 Spotify playlist, which means it made the cut for the favorites.) So yeah, I’ve had my eye on Sylvan Esso. (And needless to say, the first time I heard they were from in Durham, I got very giddy.) And Megafaun? That’s probably one of my favorite local bands I could ever claim.

It was a pretty magical moment that definitely brought back the joys of living in Durham that I’ve written so much about. Small town wonder, local band lust.

For those you who don’t have this connection to this wonderful place, this artful music video of everything from invigorating dance moves to disturbing scenes at parties can depict the reality of the lives of young artists in Durham, or likely many other cities around the world.  Get up, get down.

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Listen While You Work: 6.0

Daylight Saving time always sneaks up on me. Every year, twice a year, it sits there on my calendar, but it seems as though my eyes have trained themselves not to notice it. So I thank god every time it comes around that my mom still knows me well enough to know she needs to remind me. Sure, I have devices that automatically update themselves (though now I sometimes wonder why the heck my wall clock, microwave and stove wouldn’t know to update themselves…like come on, it’s 2014!…what?), but it’s still worth knowing that there’s going to be a significant change in your days.

Everybody always says the one in the spring time is better. Spring forward. The sun stays out longer. The warm weather is on its way. Yeah yeah, you lose an hour of sleep, BUT IT’S WORTH IT.

This year, I’m ready to spring forward. I’m ready for longer days, new beginnings, and refreshed motivation. I’m starting a new job and am excited about it.

This latest Listen While You Work playlist stands for finding your new beginnings. Seek motivation. Chase your passions. Work for a reason. Let this be your soundtrack.


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[Stream] Sylvan Esso – Coffee

I’ve been thinking a lot about my days in North Carolina recently. Seeing Justin Vernon perform the other night reminded me of the small-city vibe that I loved about living in Durham. (The connection there is that Justin Vernon used to be in a band with the Cook brothers of the North Carolina-based band Megafaun.) I loved being able to drive to work, turn on the radio to the local college indie station, and hear all of the songs that I loved. The best part was probably the “local lunch” show where they’d only play local artists. It sounded like home. I haven’t quite found something like that in San Francisco. Instead, shows get sold out too quickly, pop music blasts through the radio speakers in the taxis, and “local bands” feel a lot like far away bands that you grow to like.

Nick Sanborn, another member of Megafaun, has a side project called Sylvan Esso. The duo appeared on one of our Tape Tuesday mixtapes and resurfaced again for me today when I heard their latest single, “Coffee.” Stereogum premiered this track the other day and called it an electronic track. It got me thinking again about putting music into genres, as though trying to fit these beautiful things into old, dusty cubbies that nothing really wants to get squeezed into. I don’t want to call it electronic, because in my mind that automatically has a bit of a negative connotation. I want to let it be what it is, which is this beautiful, pulsing piece of music that features a woman’s voice (Amealia Meath) that gives me the shivers when she sings “white winters,warm coffee, mom’s gone, do you love me? blazing summer, cold coffee, baby’s gone, do you love me?”

Expect a full LP from Sylvan Esso in May 2014.

via P&P

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[Download Mixtape] Tape Tuesday: The Floor

New Tape Tuesday!

I made at least 20 different variations for this mixtape cover, and I showed my friends the different versions and gathered opinions on each cover. This one was always my personal favorite, but literally no one else’s. So why was it selected? Well, probably because I’m stubborn–but also because there is something to be said for sticking with your guts. There is a basic instinct that comes with any creative endeavor and everyone might not appreciate it at first (or ever), and that’s okay as long as it reflects a piece of you.

I told a musician friend that art is an energy you have to learn to control, and now I’m not really sure I agree with that. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what makes a classic album (you know, trying to create a classic mix for ya), and I actually think what makes a classic album is an artist unleashing his or her unique (sexual […sorry]) energy in an untempered environment. For this mix I tried to start at the base level (“The Floor”) and find these really unique artists with extremely recognizable styles to create this really gritty, powerful hour of music. Also, it’s kind of dancy, which is mostly why it’s called “The Floor.”

  1. Sydney in Theory – Diamonds & Dirt
  2. George Barnett – Down on Me
  3. Benin City – Wha Gwan
  4. ASTR – R U with Me
  5. Sylvan Esso – Play It Right
  6. Hayden James – Embrace
  7. holychild – Happy with Me
  8. Lime Cordiale – Sleeping at Your Door
  9. Lolawolf – Drive
  10. The Hard Knocks – Coast
  11. Ben Khan – Eden
  12. Jagga – Hold Me
  13. CliffLight – Summer of Sin
  14. RÁJ – Ghost
  15. Body Language – Charm
  16. John Wizards – Muizenberg
  17. High Highs – A Real Hero (College Cover)
  18. Twin Shadow – Old Love / New Love
  19. Great Good Fine Ok – You’re the One for Me
  20. Bipolar Sunshine – Love More Worry Less
  21. Lontalius – Furthest Thing (Drake Cover)

What am I supposed to say? An old love called me yesterday.


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