Mates of State
Though conceived as a duo, Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel — the he and she music factory known as Mates of State — have never failed to generate a trademark wall of sound built on dozens of varied voicings of keys, drums, and alternately lushly layered and playfully dueling vocals. On their newest album, re-arrange us, they move beyond these boundaries (their traditional organ sound is a distant memory, replaced with organic piano and synth sounds) with additional instrumentation, not to mention a quantum leap in song craft apparent on instantly indelible gems like now, jigsaw and get better. Throughout the new album, Kori's piano and the emergence of both Mates' lead vocals from their trademark harmonizing signal the next stage of Mates of State's evolution.
Based in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the band - comprised of Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, lead vocals), Josh Onstott (bass, organ, backing vocals), Jenny Hsu (cello, piano, backing vocals), Colby Owens (drums) and Jonathon Mooney (piano, violin, guitar) - has been playing music together for over five years, but only recently adopted the name Other Lives. With an organic, orchestrated sound that incorporates elements of progressive rock, folk and classical music, Other Lives draws its inspiration from a similarly wide array of sources – from historical events to the landscape in which the members grew up. The band recorded their self-titled EP and upcoming full-length album in Los Angeles with producer Joey Waronker (the Eels, Lisa Germano) and engineer Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Outkast, Beck).
Previously known as Metrovox, the members of Chicago's YAWN have been playing around the city for a few years, but with a new name and a new, self-titled EP, they're poised for a fresh beginning. The five songs on the EP - released this month - find the band falling somewhere between the tribal hooks of Vampire Weekend and the synthy glee of Passion Pit, ultimately ending up with a lush, enchanting breed of indie pop that's well worth a listen. Opening track "Toys" sets the scene with a strong tropical drum beat, playful sound effects and an excellent falsetto chorus. The remaining tracks don't stray too much from this basic formula, but each offers enough nuance to keep things interesting, from the hypnotic, chanting vocals of "David" to the meaty guitar of "Empress." YAWN reportedly recorded this EP in their apartment, which is quite a feat considering the high quality of the material and production. Keep these guys on your radar - it wouldn't be a shock to see them scoring some major attention in the near future.