Song of the Day: Xeno & Oaklander – Sheen

photo by Matthew B. Thompson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part 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, comes from electronic duo Xeno & Oaklander. “Sheen” hails from Par Avion, the group’s 2014 label debut on Ghostly International.

Xeno & Oaklander – Sheen (MP3)

Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride make some incredible music together. At first glance, the basics are all obvious. There’s McBride’s chilly, sharp east coast house giving the backbone to every track. Then there’s the French-Norwegian Wendelbo – by blood she’s been given the keys to the house and disco kingdoms. But an air of mystery floats around Xeno & Oaklander – things are never as they seem. The tracks always seem to stay one step ahead of you, feinting this way and that in a rather… ahem, ghostly manner. Meanwhile, Wendelbo is more haunting muse than pop goddess, channeling french folk, alternating between French and English without breaking a beat. And right before you feel like you have a handle on the groove, they are back into the mists.

“Sheen” is a great track to introduce new listeners to the band. It finds itself among the best offerings of the band’s new record Par Avion and it will find an easy home in your heavy rotation as the weather turns a bit colder. McBride lets the cold house groove pound forward without ever breaking character into a bombastic mess. Ever calculated and pristinely well put, everything about “Sheen” evades the frost on the glass. Wendelbo’s vocals are icing on the cake, making the lighter than air track float even higher above the snow below. Producer Chris Coady outdid himself with the mix here, giving every diamond hi hat and punchy snare its own character as the five minute track grooves forward. Then with a whisper it disappears into an atmospheric coda that gives you a breath before you hit repeat.

Xeno & Oaklander are currently touring Europe, but you can keep up with them and hear more music at their website and Facebook page. If you missed them when they stopped in Seattle this summer, you can watch their full session, live in the KEXP studio, here:

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