1. “When You Think of Me” – Little Cinema. I was enjoying the Generationals-style pop AND THEN A WICKED SAX SOLO APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE.
2. “Carriages” – Li Xi. Fuzzed-out riffs get shoved under perky vocals, triumphant synths, and a shuffling beat, creating a memorably odd, dreamy indie-pop tune.
3. “Give a Little Love” – Lunchbox. Quirky, cheery, eccentric Elephant 6-style pop somehow morphs into a Burt Bacharach string arrangement and lounge vibes, which is an impressive trick.
4. “Drench You in the Sun” – The Watanabes. Not as sunshiny as you might think; way smoother than you probably guessed. Some real nice indie-pop with horns here.
5. “Sleep” – Summer Heart. Was the phrase hypnagogic pop a non-starter? If so, then here’s some great, peppy chillwave. Great melodies and vibes throughout.
6. “Age of Isolation” – Mystery Pills. Twee meets chiptune. SIGN ME UP.
7. “Worth Your While” – Wonderful Humans. Somewhere, Vangelis is rejoicing that his style is alive and well. Vintage ’80s synth-pop matched up with modern indie vocal lines and melodies. Awesome.
8. “Jack and the Giant” – A Love Like Pi. You know that lovely feeling when you’re about to drift off to sleep in the arms of someone you love, and all seems right in the world even if just for a moment? This is what that sounds like.
8. “Safety” – Jasia. Starts out as not much: spare clicks and pops meeting some keening falsetto. But Jasia molds, shapes, and crafts the parts into a booming, M83-like track by the end. Whoa.
9. “Wyn” – Ashan. Do you need eight minutes of ethereal ahs over clicky chillwave-inspired electro? Of course you do. I can see myself both chilling out to this and getting my dance on in a real hip club.
A Love Like Pi’s recent debut full-length album, Atlas and the Oyster, combines catchiness and intellectualism in an electronic-rock package that utilizes elements of classical music. Frontman Lief Liebmann says the group’s name comes from this dichotomy and duality of their sound.
“It’s basically an extended metaphor. Love and pi operate in different arenas of your mind but they are both eternal,” Liebmann said.
A Love Like Pi hails from New Jersey and have been playing together for about two and a half years. The trio consists of Liebmann on lead vocals, synthesizers, and violin, bassist Collin Boyle, and drummer Chris LoPorto.
“Collin and I grew up playing music together,” Liebmann said. “This really benefits the band because there’s this kinship. We know each other and our playing so well.”
Liebmann and LoPorto were once members of feuding groups, he said, but that they eventually reconciled and became great friends.
Liebmann got started in music at a very young age when his parents enrolled him in violin lessons around age 4 or 5.
“As with all things that your parents make you do, I hated it at first,” Liebmann said.
But eventually, he said that he grew to love the violin.
“The violin introduced me to the world of music,” he said.
However, this early start did have a disadvantage.
“I never really listened to music as a kid because I plunged right into playing,” Liebmann said. “I feel like I’m missing that element because I was always taking apart the structure or listening to chord progressions.”
Atlas and the Oyster both reflects this classical influence while also sounding amazingly modern. Liebmann writes the band’s music, saying he felt like an “alchemist in sound” in the studio, and Boyle and LoPorto add their own spin to the songs.
Liebmann said that the recording process took about a year because he wanted to make sure that he got everything right.
“I’m a little bit insane when it comes to the organization and sequencing of songs and lyrics,” Liebmann said.
The debut is also (ambitiously!) a concept album. The first half reflects on Atlas, a character in Greek mythology who was forced to hold the world on his shoulders. Liebmann said that the oyster portion of the album is about “taking pain and making it beautiful,” like an oyster’s pearl.
“Atlas and the Oyster is a multi-dimensional record,” Liebmann said. “It has songs that are fun to listen to because the spoonful of sugar method is important – you don’t want to preach on a record.”
Liebmann said that now that the album has been released, he has mixed emotions.
“I feel two things: one is an overwhelming sense of completion and satisfaction. Another is apprehension because I spent a whole year of my life working on this album and now it’s out of my hands,” Liebmann said.
But, he said that so far, the reviews of Atlas and the Oyster have been very kind.
“I’m still crossing my fingers against that one bad review that says, ‘who does A Love like Pi think they are, singing about mythological creatures?’” Liebmann said.
Currently, A Love Like Pi is touring the country. Liebmann says that sharing the music is important to him.
“We’re playing every night, which is important for me because music is my reservoir,” he said.
Without getting it out there, Liebmann said that he could get a little crazy.
“Things inside of me become songs, so I can get neurotic if they are kept bottled up,” he said.
Another benefit of touring is the time spent with band members and the strong friendship this produces.
“We all really love each other – no lies. We’ve been through so much together,” Liebmann said.
Liebmann said that A Love Like Pi’s live shows are in-your-face, powerful, and emotionally-charged.
“As intellectual as our record is, the live shows are wild. We really try to take elements of what makes one of the songs good on the record and amplify it,” he said.
This summer, A Love Like Pi will continue touring and they will also be working on a video for “The Atlas” in L.A., but the details are a surprise. Liebmann plans to keep busy.
“I have to be doing projects forever – as the band and everyone who knows me knows,” he said.
Liebmann hopes that all the touring will expand the band’s audience, and that the new album will reach a point where the imagery and message of the songs are recognized on a national level. A Love Like Pi also wants to create a name for themselves in the music industry.
“We want to establish a place in the industry where we can release music that constantly surprises people,” Liebmann said.
The scope and range of Atlas and the Oyster certainly surprises, but very pleasantly so. Check out the band’s myspace or website to order their debut or sample some songs.
Liebmann encourages listeners to spend a little time considering or analyzing the music.
“Never fall for music just because it’s catchy,” he advised. “Take an extra five seconds to think about what the music is actually saying because this might make you love the music even more or make you realize that it’s not worth your time.”