Bandcamp is one of the greatest music services the internet has ever wrought. Other than an easy and beneficial way for small bands to open up a storefront, it’s also a handy resource for discovering new music. In Bandcamp Notables, we engage in the time-honored blogging practice of spotlighting songs we found while exploring the site.
So, I log onto Twitter and find John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats giving big-ups to this guy St. Lenox, calling him “a lyricist of the highest order.” This is a big deal. Darnielle is not just a massively accomplished songwriter, but a listener that doesn’t give his time to just anything anymore, having once described his current tastes as generally just heavy metal & classical with a smattering of select singer-songwriters. So I, and probably hundreds of others on Twitter, gave his recommendation a click through.
It turns out St. Lenox, real name Andy Choi, deserves to be talked about. Not just for his evocative, powerfully nostalgic writing, but his fiery sword of a voice. He sings with a trembling vigor that may be vibrating in from other dimensions. His range and ability to go from peaks to valleys is like watching a feat of strength, you can imagine a performance that would captivate an unblinking audience. Dave Davison of Maps & Atlases has a similar-sounding voice, but Choi can reach for these whiplash melodies that wow at every hook.
A song like “I Still Dream of the ’90s” is a good introduction as an open space that lets Choi show off his moves. That spacey, electrifying shot is perfectly followed by the lightly toned “Just Friends,” where you realize that above all he’s an emotive singer. His writing is full of scene building nuance, but it’s that impassioned delivery that nails it down. There’s a strict structure to a lot of the songs too, but there are so many loops it feels like one of those short roller coasters that does 10 laps. Once you get the hang of it, you start to anticipate the crazy, twisting wraparound hook.
St. Lenox’s full album, Ten Songs About Memory and Hope is available now digitally via Anyway Records.