Alright, I know we’ve been talking a lot about music lately on these pages, but we just have to share this new find that came through last night.
St. Lenox is the genre-dodging project of award-winning teenage violinist + current day pursuant of his Juris Doctor degree at NYU, Andy Choi, and the end result has us reeling a bit. After giving up music to pursue a degree in Philosophy at Princeton, Choi rekindled his interest in it again while working on his PhD at Ohio State, playing through the Great American Songbook and testing the waters at area dive bars.
All this brings us to his debut, the blatantly descriptive 10 Songs About Memory and Hope, a collection of songs that’s essentially knocked the wind out of us. The first thing you notice listening to any of them is Choi’s voice, and rightly so. He’s got this brazen, haphazard croon that’s impossible to turn away from, partly because of how appealing it is, partly because it’s akin to watching a tightrope walker—he gives every indication he’s going to tumble off terribly at any second, but somehow he keeps it all together beautifully the entire time. His vocal melodies—sung with a seemingly impossible degree of confidence—strike you as weirdly familiar, like you’ve got this deep recollection of hearing them vaguely in the periphery long ago somehow and they’ve worked their way into your musical subconscious.
Then the music itself. Alone, much of it’s not necessarily that remarkable—largely lo-fi, often fairly minimal. But there’s this strange imbalance of pressence of voice and lack of production or even lack of attention to production of the music that makes it striking in a memorable way because of the strength of the vocals and direct lyrics…like with the first Liz Phair album. In the same way, it seems like one of those no-win situations going forward, where the immediate inclination from anyone else involved in work after this—the artist included—is going to veer toward a higher production value…which will then totally ruin the beautiful imbalance of the whole thing. Picturing Choi’s voice over third party-produced hyperbolic, squeaky clean music does nothing for me.
But this, as is, has got me really really excited to just keep listening.
Weird, awesome stuff. Keep it up, doctor.
St. Lenox’s debut, 10 Songs About Memory and Hope, can be ordered digitally, as a CD, or on vinyl through Revolver USA and downloaded via iTunes. I have no idea if Choi plays live shows, but I’d personally love to see that happen.
You can listen to a few of the stand-out tracks from the album below.