TRACK REVIEW: Sylvan Esso remixes PHOX



Funky electropop duo Sylvan Esso just did a lovely remix of PHOX’s song “Slow Motion” and it is so deliciously silky and smooth. Sylvan Esso hails from Durham, North Carolina and is made up of vocalist Amelia Meath and producer/genius beat maker Nick Sanborn; together, they make really irresistible and groovy tunes.

Partisan Records labelmates PHOX, meanwhile, are a six-piece self-described as “a bunch of friends from the Midwestern circus hamlet, Baraboo, WI, a place where kids often drink poisoned groundwater and become endowed mutants.” They also make mesmerizingly mellow tunes tied together by Monica Martin’s stunning, velvety voice that you can’t help but fall in love with immediately.

We were already obsessed with “Slow Motion” but Sylvan Esso took the soulful song and gave it even more soul. The remix opens with an intense synth and bass beat, then it gradually introduces Martin’s voice in a delicate but calculated manner, which reaches octaves far, far away. Sanborn replaces the acoustic guitar and a jubilant, contagious clapping  from the original with a springy synth, building it up over the course of the song and slowly adding in percussive, chopped snippets of Martin’s vocal to carry it through to the end. It’s a rather perfect pairing, given Meath’s similarly smokey vocals. This latest version of “Slow Motion” crackles and smolders with a completely different vibe from the folksy original; it’s hard to decide which is best.



phox_photo_1 Love at first listen is a rare occurrence, especially if, like me, you’re a self-proclaimed picky listener. It takes a while to really become smitten with any artist. Those that win me over instantly usually bring something new to the table, reinvigorating music at their given time, and in those moments I can see myself revisiting their songs for years to come.

Madison, WI-based indie-pop band PHOX shows every sign of being the rare act that fits that bill; newest single “1936” is the type of song that makes you fall in love all at once. Dreamy and sweet, the swiftly picked guitar intro draws listeners into the richness that awaits in Monica Martin’s soulful vocal tones, woven through multiple layers of guitars and strings, supported by very calculated percussion and bass. Every instrument shines on this track at very specific moments in the song, from the to the precise and succinct sounds of the percussion in the chorus and the thick bass thudding through the whimsy of the bridge, to the intricate guitar breaks after each verse that thread the whole thing together. With the playful banjo that spices things up about a minute in, and the xylophonic sounds coming from the melding of the various guitar tones playing with each other, the lush instrumentation carries Martin’s voice through the enigmatic, oft-repeated line her blood is our blood too, I know.

Though it feels lighthearted throughout, “1936” centers on coming to terms with our genetic makeup – a family disturbance turned into an understanding of how to navigate one’s familial predispositions. That’s a pretty complex topic to cover in only three and a half minutes, but PHOX accomplishes the task with poetically crafted lyrics and a very evocative chorus.

PHOX releases their debut full-length on June 24 through Partisan Records, and if you know what’s good for your soul, you should definitely give this group a listen. They’re on tour the rest of the summer – see when they’re stopping in your city below.

Tue Jun 24, 2014
 – Omaha NE – The Waiting Room
Wed Jun 25, 2014 – Kansas City MO – Riot Room
Fri Jun 27, 2014 – Austin TX – Stubb’s BBQ (Indoor)
Sat Jun 28, 2014 – Dallas TX – Three Links
Mon Jun 30, 2014 – Scottsdale AZ – The Western
Tue Jul 01, 2014 – Los Angeles CA – The Echo
Thu Jul 03, 2014 – San Francisco CA – The Chapel
Sat Jul 05, 2014 – Portland OR – Mississippi Studios
Sun Jul 06, 2014 – Seattle WA – The Crocodile
Tue Jul 08, 2014 – Salt Lake City UT – The State Room
Wed Jul 09, 2014 – Denver CO – Hi Dive
Fri Jul 11, 2014 – St. Louis MO – Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
Sat Jul 12, 2014 – Champaign IL – Mariposa Music Fest
Sun Jul 13, 2014 – Nashville TN – The High Watt
Tue Jul 15, 2014 – Birmingham AL – The Bottletree
Thu Jul 17, 2014 – Asheville NC – Grey Eagle
Fri Jul 18, 2014 – Chapel Hill NC – Local 506
Sat Jul 19, 2014 – Washington DC – The Hamilton
Mon Jul 21, 2014 – Philadelphia PA – Boot & Saddle
Tue Jul 22, 2014 – Brooklyn NY – Knitting Factory 
Wed Jul 23, 2014 – New York NY – Mercury Lounge
Fri Jul 25, 2014 – Newport RI – Newport Folk Festival
Sat Jul 26, 2014 – North Bennington VT – The Vermont Arts Exchange
Mon Jul 28, 2014 – Montreal QC – Casa Del Popolo
Tue Jul 29, 2014 – Toronto ON – The Drake
Thu Jul 31, 2014 – Cleveland Heights OH – Grog Shop
Fri Aug 01, 2014 – Detroit MI – Magic Stick Lounge
Sun Aug 03, 2014 – Green Bay WI – Meyer Theatre w/ San Fermin
Mon Aug 04, 2014 – Minneapolis MN – 7th St. Entry
Wed Aug 06, 2014 – Milwaukee WI – Turner Hall
Thu Aug 07, 2014 – Madison WI – High Noon Saloon
Fri Aug 08, 2014 – Madison WI – High Noon Saloon – SOLD OUT
Sat Aug 09, 2014 – Chicago IL – Lincoln Hall


TRACK OF THE WEEK: Phox’s “Slow Motion”

Madison, WI’s Phox have been around for a few years now, steadily building hype around the world for their special brand of chamber pop. The septet, fronted by the ever so charming Monica Martin, received particular praise coming out of SXSW, and tonight they’ll be opening for Laura Mvula at a sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg show. All this without even having a full-length album out yet.

Luckily for us, their debut is on its way. The self-titled album is due June 24th, and Phox are now streaming their track “Slow Motion” to tide us over until then. The track is a gorgeous display of the band’s versatility, implementing hand claps and whistles alongside a banjo, clarinet, electric guitar, and piano. It wavers between minimalistic and lush, evoking a wide open feeling that brings early Noah and the Whale to mind. Martin’s croon is soulful and dazzling, akin to Feist. Listen to the track below and catch Phox on their tour while you still can!