The Unsolicited Endorsement: Sylvan Esso

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by Eric Ginsburg

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Courtesy of sylvanesso.com

We were walking down North Elm Street, headed towards downtown Greensboro, when Amelia Meath told us about the different band names that she and Nick Sanborn were considering. They hadn’t settled on one yet, but the leading contender was Sylvan Esso. And so it was.

The electronic pop duo was phenomenal even when I first saw them play last year at Local 506 and later the Cave in Chapel Hill, and since then they’ve blown up. On July 9 they played “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” with Questlove backing them up on drums. Good thing I already bought tickets to their Halloween show at the Haw River Ballroom — it sold out that week.

When Amelia, who initially gained notoriety as a member of folk trio Mountain Man, moved to Durham, we both took advantage of the chance to see each other more. Amelia and I were in a tight group of best friends in high school, but had hardly seen each other since.

After years without a sighting, she passed through Greensboro on tour with the band Bobby a while back, and Amelia and a gaggle of what seemed like 10 dudes crashed on my living room floor. More time went by, and I didn’t see her again until she was kind enough to put me on the guest list to see her perform with Feist as a back-up singer in Raleigh.

For Amelia and Nick, two of the sweetest and most genuine people I’ve ever met, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen each other in far too long or, in Nick’s case, don’t know each other all that well. They’re still there, listening intently.

That’s what I’m doing to Sylvan Esso now, because holy hell they’re good. It’s understandable that they’ve exploded quickly given their incredible songwriting talents — not to mention Nick’s musical prowess and the mesmerizing beauty of Amelia’s voice.

They’re on tour now and have been on the road fairly constantly — I can’t even remember the last time I saw them, though I think Nick was working behind the bar at the now-defunct Toro pizzeria in Durham. Chances are the next time I see the pair will be in Saxapahaw on Halloween, and I strongly advise you to listen to their music in the meantime at sylvanesso.com.