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Song Premiere: San Fermin, 'Parasites'

Ellis Ludwig-Leone of San Fermin.
Denny Renshaw
Courtesy of the artist
Ellis Ludwig-Leone of San Fermin.

San Fermin's self-titled 2013 debut is an intricately composed set of impeccable chamber-folk songs, written in solitude by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and performed by a small army of highly trained ringers. By the time the album came out, Ludwig-Leone had already written a sequel in a similar spirit.

But then San Fermin started touring, which naturally brought Ludwig-Leone out into the world — to workshop his sound in a live setting, to experience life on the road as part of an eight-piece band, and to encounter people and ideas that would have escaped him if he'd stayed home. So he rewrote the album's songs, and the result is Jackrabbit, which promises to have a looser and less hermetically sealed quality. "I was looking for a sound that was a little darker," Ludwig-Leone writes via email, "and maybe a little more manic."

The first single from Jackrabbit bears this out: After a quiet opening passage, "Parasites" gets jarringly loud and frenetic, like several songs laid atop one another. (One of them even sounds like Moon Hooch.) Allen Tate's gloomy baritone returns, while new singers Charlene Kaye and Rebekah Durham coo sweetly amid honking clamor that builds and bursts as the song barrels along. By its end, "Parasites" sounds as stormy as the band's first record was graceful. Both are exacting in their own way, but San Fermin here sounds electrified, amplified and, above all, emboldened.

San Fermin's new album, Jackrabbit, comes out April 21, 2015.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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