Marian Hill just finished their 15-date tour! Often mistaken as a solo artist, they’re actually a duo from Philly: Jeremy Lloyd on electronics and Samantha Gongol on vocals. Their band name comes from Marian Paroo and Harold Hill, who are characters they played in a middle school production of the musical The Music Man. It wasn’t until many years of writing music independently that they collaborated and released their first track “Whisky.” The seductive and passionate composition of this track marks only the beginning of what’s to come. In addition, jazz musician Steve Davit integrates his saxophone into quite a few of their tracks and was with them on stage during their tour. Marian Hill’s Sway EP and their latest release ACT ONE are the ultimate mix of R&B, jazz, and electronic. It sounds like a category of its own and rightfully so.

Interestingly enough, the only room I heard play Marian Hill at LAAS 2017 was the Sonus Faber and McIntosh room. Some recommend Massive Attack for bass test tracks. I much prefer Marian Hill.  Some of their tracks are so subterranean, it just relentlessly ripples through your body (check out Mistaken). Not only that, I’ve found that all the electronic tidbits provide the right amount of “tickle factor” to make listening fun and interesting. Random bells, pops, and rumbles but properly paced and placed. Lloyd was a master on the keyboard and did more than just push a button.

The first night of the show was sold out but fortunately I was able to grab tickets for the following night. The ground shaking bass was a treat in itself but Samantha’s vocals were the best I’ve ever heard. I find it to be uncommon for vocalist to sound better in person, either due to the equipment, venue, or…the vocalist themselves. She’s very expressive and her live performance provided a more textured, melodic, and nuanced sound. After the concert, I had a listen to her album and I missed that natural improvisation and the way she commanded the stage. Her voice had more authority live and was more intricate than her recordings. Anyway, that’s why we go to these things right? Enjoy!

My top picks:

  • Mistaken
  • Lovit
  • Good
  • Deep (some of the most window rattling bass I’ve ever heard on a recording)