Sylvan Esso’s sophomore album, What Now, is the sound of a band truly fulfilling the potential and promise of their debut. Everything has evolved – the production is bolder, the vocals are more intense, the melodies are more irresistible, and the songs shine that much brighter. However, it is also a record that was made in 2016 – which means it is inherently grappling with the chaos of a country coming undone, the voices of two people nestled in studios around the country who were bemused by what they looked out and saw. It’s an album that is both political and personal, and blurs the line between the two – What Now describes the inevitable low that comes after every high, fulfillment
tempered by the knowledge that there is no clearly defined conclusion. It’s a record about falling in love and learning that it won’t save you; about the over sharing of information and the fine line between self-awareness and narcissism; about meeting one’s own personal successes but feeling the fizzling embers of the afterglow rather than the roar of achievement; about the crushing realization that no progress can ever feel permanent. It is an album that finds its strength in its own duality. But at its core, What Now is an album of the finest songs this band has ever written- produced masterfully, sang fearlessly- to articulate our collective undercurrents of anxiety and joy.
Leading into the album release, the band will make an appearance at this year’s SXSW in Austin. In May, they will kick off of a headlining tour with dates in Europe before kicking off their North American tour in Atlanta on May 13th at the Shaky Knees Festival. The tour will see them play NYC’s newest venue, Brooklyn Steel on May 18th, Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, multiple nights in Madison, Wi, Portland and Seattle, and top slots at Boston Calling and Eaux Claires festivals. The band have also announced their own massive hometown one-day festival at
Shakori Hills in Pittsboro, NC on September 30th where Sylvan Esso will be joined by their friends Tune-Yards, Wye Oak, Helado Negro, Well$ and more.
Sylvan Esso Facebook
When Merrill Garbus first committed her tUnE-yArDs persona to tape, she used a simple dictaphone to capture every part and then lovingly pieced it all together on GarageBand. A laborious process partly enforced by tight finances, the resulting album “Bird-Brains” (2009) was a sheer joy. A record so unique, it immediately set hearts racing; The Guardian in their five-star review went as far as to call her “the find of the year.” At the same time, she enlisted Nate Brenner on bass to help her make tUnE-yArDs an unmissable live act. It worked. Word of mouth quickly spread, helping to fill every venue they played and to take the magic of Bird-Brains across the world. With a record deal also in the bag, she was able to now concentrate on being a musician full-time.
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak have spent most of their lives in Baltimore, Maryland. But after two years of constant touring with Civilian, their highly lauded 2011 album, they landed on opposite sides of the country with an unforeseeable future ahead. Despite this newfound uncertainty, the two bandmates embraced their physical distance, passing ideas back and forth, allowing new work to evolve in their respective solitudes. Shriek is Wye Oak’s fourth full-length and the culmination of their intent to express the emotional and intuitive self by acting out animalistic exclamations through cathartic release. It is their most personal and confident declaration yet.
Wye Oak Facebook
The son of Ecuadorean immigrants, Helado Negro was born in South Florida in 1980. His childhood was suffused with tropical heat, humidity, hurricanes, all refracted with the rich sounds and colors of the various Latin American cultures of southern Florida. Pounding bass beats from passing cars, boom boxes bouncing down the block, and late-night parties called “peñas” provided a foundation for Helado Negro’s interest in sound and lifelong quest to discover the unlimited variety of objects used to produce music. Most recently he created a new collaborative group with Julianna Barwick called OMBRE releasing their debut album in 2012 called Believe You Me. Helado Negro has worked with Bear in Heaven mixing their Pitchfork’s Best New Music album Beast Rest Forth Mouth. He also produced Prefuse 73‘s 2010 album Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian.
Helado Negro Facebook