Saturday, October 8, 2011

POP-Adjacent Pyramid: Tier 2


     Record Collector                          Eager For Your Love                           Velvet Elvis
                Lissie                                                 Tristen                                           Alex Winston
               (listen)                                               (listen)                                                  (listen)


I’m back with the second tier of our pop pyramid, which includes songs that fuse pop and country elements. Lissie is this gorgeous chick (she totally works the grunge look EFFORTLESSLY, which is the whole point. She’s not a hipster who takes ten hours to carefully wrinkle her shirts) who makes bluesy, country, rocky, poppy music. She’s from the Midwest, but after spending a few years in California, she was signed to Columbia Records in the UK, where she’s more popular (weird, considering her music is totally American. The Brits know someone special when they spot him/her.) It’s taken me a while to really like her songs, but once you like them, you LOVE them. She’s a fantastic songwriter. Her verses are actually catchy (a rarity), and you could totally Rihannify her songs into club bangers and they would be just as good. That’s how you separate great music from mediocre music; if it can be played in multiple formats/genres (i.e. acoustic, dance, ballad, etc.) and sounds good in all of them, then it’s a winner. (The same doesn’t apply to people. Just because you look good in ten different outfits, does NOT make you a good person. In fact, it will probably annoy me and make me like you less. I’m bitter and jealous.) The song I’ve chosen from her album, Catching a Tiger, is “Record Collector” (click here to listen). It’s totally haunting, and actually possesses the same sense of space as James Blake’s “ Limit to Your Love.” (We mentioned James in the first tier of The POP-Adjacent Pyramid. Check it out here.) I can’t describe it in a way that will do it justice so just listen to it, and while you’re at it, check out some of her other album cuts. My faves include “In Sleep” (click here to listen), “Cuckoo” (click here to listen), and “When I’m Alone” (click here to listen).

The next song included in this tier is Tristen’s “Eager For Your Love” (click here to listen). The first time I heard it, I was immediately addicted and proceeded to listen to it twenty more times within the next two hours. (I treat good songs like cupcakes; I consume them all at once, on repeat, until I’m nauseous.) I could just sing the chorus all day, “Tame that nasty shrew / ‘Cause she knows what you’re up to / You’ve gotta keep her thin and hungry / So she’s eager for your love,” which indicates just how good this track is because I absolutely loathe rodents. (I would never tame any shrew; instead, upon first sight, I would shriek at the top of my lungs while running in the opposite direction until Animal Control comes and actually takes care of the situation.) Anyhow, Tristen spent years studying the perfect pop hook and it obviously paid off with this song off of her first album, Charlatans at the Garden Gate. I haven’t listened to the rest of the record, but if I decide to and end up liking it, I will most certainly let the three of you who are reading this know. :)

The last song in this tier is Alex Winston’s “Velvet Elvis” (click here to listen). I’ll preface any description by saying that Ms. Winston’s voice is very much an acquired taste, like sushi, wine, cum, etc., etc., etc. However, once you adapt to its mousey quality, you’ll realize she really works it to the bone. “Velvet Elvis” is such a hodgepodge of sounds. It starts off with this old school TV show like intro until a banjo comes in. Then Alex gets to the chorus which soars as she sings, “When I feel your Velvet/I can’t help it/hold your frame/whisper your name.” It definitely sounds more naughty than the innocent production would suggest. I thought I knew what Elvis’ Velvet is (Hint: not a peanut butter and sliced banana sandwich. More like pigs in a blanket), but Ms. Winston informed us that a Velvet Elvis is actually a painting. Sometimes, my brain is a tad too raunchy for my own good! While this song was wonderfully produced by Charlie Hugall (Alex told us so on Twitter, as well. Thanks girl!), many of her songs are produced by The Knocks, an electronic music duo that have worked with Big Boi of Outkast, B.O.B., and Calvin Harris, who produced Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” a song we talked about at length in one of our first entries (click here to read)! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s so cool that this singer-songwriter who writes acoustic music allows these boys to give her songs a little electronic flair. They do it without forcing her to compromise. The sound is not clubby. It’s not trance. It’s definitely instrumental pop with a few synthesized bells. Check out her song, “Locomotive” (click here to listen), which I actually like better. I didn’t put it in this tier because it doesn’t have as much country flair as “Velvet Elvis.” Alex’s full-length debut is due in January 2012, so keep your eyes open!



P.S. Click for Tiers 13, and 4


  1. Hey Gregory, thanks for telling me about Lissie. She has a unique voice and style. Someone to follow. Cheers!


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