I suppose comparisons are inevitable when you’re the offspring of piano-pumping troubadour Ben Folds. Sure, she tickles the ivories, and even demonstrates some of dad’s pentameter and such…but here comes the kicker. At merely seventeen years of age, Gracie’s themes and ruminations are more conducive to that of a woman who’s weathered the entirety of her twenties. Having seemingly eschewed rote teen-angst to the back seat, her prose is a precocious melange of Nick Drake and J.D. Salinger, while on the sonic front, loosely paralleling Fiona Apple. Gracie’s opening slot for her father on the Ben Folds w/ yMusic tour last summer stunned me, and while she wasn’t offering much in the way of merch, an ep, Pink Elephant, surfaced a few months ago online. Not unlike her pop, she’s well on her way to crafting sophisticated vignettes like “Harper” and “Nathan,” curiously referencing a font type, of all things, in the latter. As if her piano songs weren’t enough of a revelation, Gracie straps on an acoustic for the equally effective “Yearbook Song,” agilely slipping into a mode not dissimilar to early Suzanne Vega. Pink Elephant is a petite, but stunning volume of music. Catch it by the tail on iTunes, Spotify, and better yet Bandcamp where you can take in a couple of demos as well.
I’ll now juxtapose to a not-so new comer, specifically pop veteran Jeremy Morris. I’ve lost count of how many records he’s made at this point (25 to 30 perhaps?) but Hit You With a Flower might be the first with The Jeremy Band trio, rounded out by Dave Dietrich on drums and Todd Borsch on bass. Fans of the man in question know what to expect with virtually anything he affixes his name to – plaintive songwriting, an overarching sunny disposition, and jangly pop instincts that flirt with pleasing, psych-kissed guitar tones. In a nutshell Jeremy doesn’t alter the recipe with …Flower, but the title track is one of the most hook-savvy tunes he’s committed to tape since his ’90s signature piece “I’m Flying.” Not sure where to dig in with Jeremy’s deep catalog? My best recommendation would be to start here, straight from the source at Jam Records.
Guilty pleasure confession time. In 2009, I was bit by the “poptronica” bug and fell head over heals for Passion Pit’s Manners album. Ever since I’ve been looking for new-school techno pop outfits that I might become equally besotted with. I hit the jackpot with Brooklyn’s Great Good Fine Ok, whose sly synth salvos belie sumptuous, cosmopolitan grooves. GGFO aren’t the types I give much coverage to, but genre be damned, ‘cos they’ve concocted some of the most devastatingly delicious music I’ve encountered in the last five years. On their latest, (III) a maxi-ep of sorts, the dynamic duo of Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman lay down seven unapologetic love ditties couched in a polished modus operandi that all but compel you to shake a leg (or three). An ’80s veneer infiltrates the proceedings, not to mention Sandler’s relentless falsetto, but neither maneuver is overplayed so as to gum up the works. “Everything to Me” jump-starts a benign frenzy, “Already Love” is awash in bachelor pad sheik, while the concluding slow jam, “Thinking” finds the boys sauntering towards full fledged R&B. Take selected GGFO III cuts for a test drive on Spotify, then finalize your purchase on Amazon or iTunes. Physical copies can be had at their merch table, both online or in the flesh.