A few months ago I discovered San Fermin as part of the lineup at Austin City Limits (I didn't have the chance to go, but one of my good friends did). San Fermin, a Brooklyn-based band, is the brainchild of Ellis Ludwig-Leone (pictured center above). Ellis, a classically trained graduate of Yale spent six weeks writing the band's first album and describes it as the tale of interactions between a male and female character "filled with blustery, unpredictable, avant-garde arrangements and rooted in the preciousness of indie pop."
Note, while I haven't looked into this I'm pretty sure Ellis named the band after the Spanish city of San Fermin. San Fermin is world famous for its running of the bulls event. Ellis references San Fermin on his album during the song Torero (Spanish for Bullfighter).
Sonsick was one of first singles released from the album before it's debut.
Instantly I enjoyed the sound of their first self-titled album, San Fermin. The album has about twenty-two musicians who deliver a truly unique masterpiece. Allen Tate, the bands lead male vocalist and longtime friend of Ellis, introduces the album with powerful vocals that instantly captures listeners attention. The album was written by Ellis right after college in what he describes as a period of trying to figure life out while the rest of his friends are moving on with their lives and making life decisions.
I put together this playlist featuring the full first album mixed with commentary from Ellis:
Sitting at under an hour, it's worth listening to the album from start to finish. If you're looking for some good storytelling, treat yourself to the commentary from Ellis as well as he guides you through his work. You can listen to this album over and over again and each time you'll be able to catch things you didn't notice before.
One of the things that struck me while listening to this first album are just how simple yet powerful Ellis' lyrics and arrangements are. They don't come off as trying too hard to be grandiose but serve the purpose of telling a moving story of the main character coming to terms with his life. Many of the songs on the album, such as Methuselah, Casanova, Daedalus contain literary references that help tell the album's story.
The band's second album, Jackrabbit is a satisfying followup. I've been playing the The Woods and Emily on repeat the past few days. Altogether, I consider Emily to be my favorite track from both albums; if you see me singing in my car in traffic it'll most likely be that track.
Take a listen to the second album, Jackrabbit here:
I'm really hoping these guys make their way out West soon so I can see them live. I can only imagine their sound being that much better in person.
If you want to check out some more of their work, click the social media buttons below.
I'll wrap up this post with the Daedalus music video. If you don't know the Greek mythos behind Daedalus, do yourself a favor and look it up. Ellis describes this track as "the most personal song on the record for me. The male character's voice I think has a lot in common with my own..."
Thanks for checking out this Sunday's Artist Spotlight.