Sometimes, I spend months without getting a new Starbucks ‘pick of the week’ card, sometimes I get several at once… anyhow I have found a new one this morning offering ‘Higher’ by Lia Ices, another of these young songwriters I know nothing about… Wait a minute, have you looked at the cover of her 2011 album ‘Grown Unknown”? Was she the authentic flower-crown girl? It just proves that there is definitively nothing original left for Lana Del Rey.
Lia is a singer songwriter from Connecticut currently living in California, she has recorded a duet with Bon Iver for her previous album, and Pitchfork and other critics have compared her to Tori Amos/Joanna Newsom/Kate Bush/Bat for lashes and even Cat Power,… nice but may be a bit overwhelming for the same girl! And looking at these photos of her with loose long blonde hair on her shoulders and flowers over her head, she kind of looked like a post-hippie nymph going barefoot and inhabiting forests.
Her new album, which was released on September 16th via Jagjaguwar, is simply entitled ‘Ices’ – a weird uninspired or bold name choice because it is already her third one – and she apparently made a complete U turn with her music (and why not?) totally departing from her sound of piano-balladery-pop songs. She forgot about Justin Vernon and decided to ‘go outside of herself, explore, and travel’, she hired a very different kind of collaborator, the electronic/hip hop producer Clams Casino (A$AP Rocky, Tri Angle Records) who produced this Starbuck’s pick of the week, as well as several tracks of the album.
‘Higher’ is an electronic experimental pop affair, a very sunny chillwave with layered guitars, keyboards, beats and Ices’ youthful voice very high in the mix, packed into an exotic vibe, she even picked a Jamaica location for the video. The chant-like tune sounds as if it had been inspired by traditional music at mid way between Africa and Asia, although I can hear a vague Panda Bear influence in the beats and the haziness.
In an interview she said she listened to Spiritualized, Link Wray, early American blues singers, strange Persian or Pakistani sounds, a lot of hip-hop, new and old, while writing her own music with her brother. She explained the genesis of her album to Clash Music:
‘Most of them started in the Hudson Valley, where Eliot [her brother] and I wrote and recorded vocals, guitars, synths, and beat ideas. We’d send those first incarnations to Clams Casino in New Jersey and then we’d meet up in Brooklyn to arrange the new parts together. We worked in the penthouse of the Wythe Hotel – a floating glass box, a blank slate. We’d set up our computer, mixing speakers, midi keyboards, and all our weird gear, plus thai food and red wine.’
‘We’d bring up one of our demos and we’d sit behind the midi keyboard and sift through sounds and ideas and beats and find new things together. After the Wythe Sessions (in Brooklyn) we took different tracks to Woodstock and Los Angeles to layer in live drums and percussion, and I went to Atlanta to record final vocals. For the first time, Lia Ices felt like an inclusive project with its own identity, not just a name.’
You can download ‘Higher’ on iTunes, using the code: JWTATA9YKRWL
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