Song of the Day: Hey Marseilles – Heart Beats

photo by Christopher Nelson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Heart Beats” by Hey Marseilles from the 2013 album Lines We Trace on Onto/Thirty Tigers.

Hey Marseilles – Heart Beats (MP3)

Many of us spend years searching for happiness, truth, and meaning, only to find that the object of our desire has been sitting patiently right in front of us all along. On Lines We Trace, six-piece orchestral-pop ensemble Hey Marseilles prove it’s not about going out and searching. It’s about finding you are already where you need to be.

“These songs articulate a sense of longing, but it’s a longing to appreciate what’s in front of you as opposed to finding meaning in somewhere or someone else, “ says lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Bishop. “It’s about finding and creating home where you’re at and as you are.”

Formed in 2006, Hey Marseilles began in Seattle as Bishop and Nick Ward (guitar, drumbourine, and mandolin). The duo were eventually joined by  Philip Kobernik  (accordion and piano) for jams in Gasworks Park. Their sound then expanded with the rich orchestral textures of Samuel Anderson’s cello, Jacob Anderson’s viola, and Colin Richey on drums. Together they build an emotive sound that rises to crescendos and then gracefully recedes. On today’s KEXP Song of the Day,”Heart Beats,” the bowed strings of the cello and viola draw swords with pulsating, distorted guitars, organ, and tribal drums to build an epic tension. Bishop’s earnest voice and poignant lyrics unite. Even in the most melancholy moments of “Heart Beats,” his words provide comfort. “We’ll take up separate lives,” Bishop sings. “And in the space that divides, I’ll reach for the best of what was. And leave all that wasn’t behind.”

With the release of Lines We Trace, the band evolves from 2008’s debut To Travels & Trunks. The embraced folk tradition of accordion and strings are still present, but the guitars and skittering drum rhythms are more present on 2013’s Lines We Trace. The aural atmosphere of Seattle becomes more present as well. Much of the new album was recorded in the band’s Columbia City home with additional tracking performed in a Golden Gardens Park tunnel, a mostly abandoned brick office building, and a local church sanctuary. Mood conquers. Sound and texture triumph. Clearly the band understands the importance of sonic personality. Lines We Trace is a testament to that realization.

Hey Marseilles is currently on tour. Get show dates here. Keep up with the band on their Facebook page and website. In the meantime, here’s a video of Hey Marseilles performing “Heart Beats” live on KEXP at CMJ in October, 2012:

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