The Grateful Dead celebrates 50 years since the band's start this year.
This week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson introduces us to the song “Renaissance” by the Brooklyn band San Fermin.
According to Thompson, San Fermin is the “brain child of a classically-trained 24-year-old composer and pianist named Ellis Ludwig-Leone.”
For this band, Leone recruited singer and longtime friend Allen Tate, along with two female vocalists, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, both of whom also sing in another band from Brooklyn called Lucius.
Together, these three singers and pianist have created music that can inspire.
“San Fermin is one of the most inventive new bands I’ve heard in ages. Its songs are stuffed with all these swells and surprises and hairpin turns, but it’s not really showoff, it’s not technique for the sake of technique. It can be grandiose and inspiring or it can be gloomy or simply pretty. And it can bring out the sudden little bursts of emotion when you least expect them,” Thompson said.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
And so, an uplifting story to start the week. How about a song to go with it? Stephen Thompson, writer and editor for NPR Music, what have you got for us this week?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: All right. I've got one of my favorite new artists of the year. It's a big band from Brooklyn called San Fermin, which is the brainchild of a classically trained 24-year-old composer and pianist named Ellis Ludwig-Leone. But he doesn't sing.
Instead, he - for this band, he recruited a singer named Allen Tate and the two women who also sing in another wonderful band from Brooklyn called Lucius. So you have three great singers performing with this grand little pop orchestra. And this particular song, it opens San Fermin's self-titled debut. The song is called "Renaissance."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RENAISSANCE")
ALLEN TATE: (Singing) It's easier from far away. Imagine this another way. I know the lines to every play. The best ones cried(ph). So please come wake me up.
THOMPSON: San Fermin is one of the most inventive new bands I've heard in ages. Its songs are stuffed with all these swells and surprises and hairpin turns. But it's not really show-offy. It's not technique for the sake of technique. It can be grandiose and inspiring, or it can be gloomy or simply pretty. And it can bring out these sudden little bursts of emotion when you least expect them.
YOUNG: It sounds like, you know, we are hearing a highly trained classical musician turning to pop.
THOMPSON: Essentially, yeah. There's so much going on. All these singers and players are making music that fans out in different directions, but it's - at its heart, it's the vision of this one guy. And it's - altogether, it's equal parts pop music and folk music and classical music, and it's really good at all of them.
YOUNG: And that one guy is, again, the 24-year-old composer and pianist Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who recruited singers to perform for the big band San Fermin. This song we've been listening to, "Renaissance," what do you think of it? Let us know at hereandnow.org. And NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, just a quick question: Are people, like, camping out outside your door...
YOUNG: ...with their releases?
THOMPSON: To overthrow me and take my job?
YOUNG: Well - or to bring you their music, because you don't hear music like this anywhere.
THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, you know, we hear music from a lot of different places, and, I mean, we get these bins full of CDs to sift through, and obviously, and these days, we get a lot of music sent to us via download. It's just a matter of sifting and winnowing through the bulk and looking for things that poke out and surprise and thrill us. And this is a perfect example of something that just came out of nowhere and blew our minds.
YOUNG: Yeah. Well, thank you for sifting for us. Stephen, thank you.
THOMPSON: Thank you. My pleasure.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, RENAISSANCE")
TATE: (Singing) For my head. And they're scaring the wall. But I'm still, still dreaming.
YOUNG: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Robin Young.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
I'm Jeremy Hobson. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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