Sylvan Esso

Nashville – Sylvan Esso is a name that has been popping up on tastemaker music blogs with more and more frequency over the past year. Their music is so electric, so sticky that it’s difficult to declare which of the three songs they’ve released is the strongest. Sylvan Esso delivered on a much anticipated South by Southwest debut. Attention from the likes of NPR and others has surely let go the floodgates. If Durham, North Carolina still calls this pop-perfect band their secret, it won’t be the case for much longer.

The energy between Sylvan Esso’s band members, Nick Sanborn and Amelia Randall Meath, is tangible. With a voice that is at once crystalline and earthy, Meath is on par with indie-pop goddesses Feist and Regina Spektor. Her meticulous lyrics are met with Sanborn’s crunchy, visceral beats. Meath writes the hooks. Sanborn dissects them, then weaves and layers them through the song.

Aside from their apparent chemistry, the band’s near-instant success is due in part to the pair’s experience in other bands. Meath is a member of Mountain Man, a folk trio of women who sing dreamy harmonies. Sanborn is a member of the equally as folky band Megafaun. The two met while playing in their respective groups and began collaborating via e-mail. All that remains in Sylvan Esso of their respective folk histories is a flare for minimalism and Meath’s effectual vocals and harmonies.

I received my first taste of Sylvan Esso from a friend who sent the live video for “Play It Right” with a firm message: “Listen to this.” Perhaps this band will shake up your week in the right way, as it did mine. Meath and Sanborn’s energy is magnetic. Judging by that video, the band should be at its best in a live setting. Praise for their South by Southwest performances seems to confirm this.

For a band that hasn’t even released their first album, they have impressive opening spots lined up with Tycho, tUnE-yArDs, and Wye Oak. Though their tour schedule doesn’t show it, Sylvan Esso recently said in an interview that they will also be opening for Volcano Choir this fall.

You can expect their self-titled debut album on May 13th. It’s already available for pre-order in iTunes. Keep an eye on this band as the summer unfurls. They may have the summer’s best album on lock, and they just might be 2014’s biggest surprise.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline McDonald

My first memory is of singing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” quietly to myself during preschool naptime. Perhaps it’s because I’m from Nashville where an instrument lives in every home, but music has gripped me for as long as I can remember.

After dabbling in many parts of the music industry—recording studios, PR, management, labels, publishing—I’m expanding into music journalism because I’m yet to find anything more rewarding that finding and sharing new music.

A longtime sucker for girls with guitars, my musical taste unabashedly follows the songwriting lineage of Dolly Parton and includes Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Neko Case. But not to pigeonhole myself, my music love is big love that stretches from R.L. Burnside to Animal Collective to Lord Huron.

I’ve recently moved home to Nashville after living in Boston and Big Sur for several years. I’d forgotten how music pours onto the streets ten hours a day, seven days a week. I’m honored to share the creative explosion happening here. If your band is in the area or of the area, please reach out!
Caroline McDonald

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