Teen, Landlady, Sunset Hearts
TEEN was founded in 2010 by singer and multi-instrumentalist Teeny Lieberson of Here We Go Magic. She self-recorded and self-released the beguiling lo-fi Little Doods LP the following year, then formed a band with her sisters, Katherine and Lizzie, and signed to Carpark Records for 2012’s In Limbo. Produced by Sonic Boom (Spectrum, Spacemen 3), In Limbo encompasses everything in between sprawling, ethereal ballads and trancey, kinetic pop. Rolling Stone listed its opening track “Better” as one of the “50 Best Songs of 2012.” The Carolina EP followed in 2013 and was even more varied and accomplished; the band was growing by breathtaking leaps and bounds. TEEN’s second full-length, The Way and Color, mixes the band’s melodic psych with the sound of post-millennial R&B. The LP has its share of darkness—fear, regret, and loss are all in the picture—but it’s always redeemed by the sheer soulfulness and powerful ingenuity of the music. The album is a reflection on the aggressive times we live in, one that often lacks selflessness. TEEN’s response is one that uplifts and brings a sense of happiness and joy. Love Yes continues this communication, this time exploring the disharmony and empowerment that both sexuality and spirituality can create within the modern woman’s psyche. Universal ideas of loyalty, pleasure, purity, power, aging, and love are confronted with a knowable specificity. There is a quality of wholesomeness, but also an edge—a kind of wise anger and electricity.
Brooklyn five-piece Landlady is the experimental pop outlet of Adam Schatz (Man, Man, Father Figures, Zongo Junction, Those Darlins). Their 2014 Hometapes debut, Upright Behavior, boldly disrupts the notion of genre and reveals the soulful and continually-resonating work of Schatz and core band members Ian Chang, Ian McLellan Davis, Booker Stardrum, and Will Graefe, as well as a cast of NYC-based contributors gathered from Schatz’s tandem walks of life as a solo musician, improviser, organizer, collaborator, promoter, and writer. The NYTimes dubbed them heirs-apparent to “a lineage of New York City art-rock bands that transmute existential questions and primal fears into exultant songs, bands like Talking Heads, TV on the Radio and Dirty Projectors.” Landlady merge vast skill, a bend toward experimentation, and a proven belief that songs can be a true extension of the human experience. The result is timeless and charted by their recorded works and transformative live shows. Landlady released a new EP, Heat, this past year, in tandem with nationwide tours with Son Lux and Buke and Gase.
Sunset Hearts is the ever-evolving art-pop outfit led by Portland’s Casey McCurry, featuring a rotating cast of local heavyweights. Their music is resplendent in its calculated synth swirl, sinister croon, and abject guitar chaos. It’s big. It’s powerful. It’s spirited. It’s really quite good.