Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead and Drew Dixon of signs of common grace in the music world. We hope to alert you to wonderful music, some of which will be spiritual in nature but all of which will be unique and worthy of your attention. Each week we will share a video or two highlighting music that we find particularly engaging and meaningful.
Seryn have been around for about two years now, and This Is Where We Are is their debut full-length, but it sounds like the work of a much older, more experienced group. It’s a remarkably mature work, a big, bold, sweeping album whose anthemic songs consistently swing for the nosebleed section but that never feel forced or lose their sense of intimacy and intricacy. It’s a patient album: the songs never feel rushed or harried, but rather build slowly from simple origins — e.g., a languid guitar or simple vocal harmony — to often breathtaking crescendoes. Finally, it’s also a generous album: each member in the five-piece is given time to shine, and the album’s production gives each instrument room to move and breathe. I’ve been listening to the album fairly regularly for a couple months now, and I swear, I still hear new details from time to time.
I am very much an album guy, it is very rare that I recommend individual songs–if an entire album does not merit a listen, I generally write its individual parts off altogether. However, Mount Righteous’ (a band ironically enough who is from North Texas as is Seryn) “Suburban Homesick Blues” is fantastic on so many levels that despite the spotty album its found on that I feel it necessary to recommend it to you. The song and the video aptly illustrate the absurdity of middle class suburban life in America. I hope you will pardon the mild expletive in the song because no other song I have heard in recent months has illustrated quite as clearly the absurdity of so much of our lives–this fact makes the songs conclusion all the more poignant.
No album has been more consistently in my rotation lately than Gorilla Manor by Local Natives, a delightful new band that you would never know is from Orange County. The best way I can think to describe them is think if Fleet Foxes was less folky. Like Fleet Foxes, you will immediately note the three-part harmonies the band pulls of flawlessly, but perhaps what I enjoy most about them are the simple stories told in their songs. Recently they played a Tiny Desk concert for NPR in which they play their song “Airplane” at the end–which pieces together the life of a grandfather who has passed away–its a beautiful song that reflects on life, death, and lost time. The video below is a Take Away Show of my other favorite song, “Who Knows Who Cares.” La Blogotheque is a French music blog that features artists taking their music out into the world in various public venues without notice. These Take Away shows, like NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts require stripped down versions of the artist’s music. Local Natives sound perfectly natural in such simple settings and I love the idea of taking such beautiful music out into the world where it needs to be heard and shared.