Brooklyn composer and Yale graduate Ellis Ludwig-Leone is the musical and creative genius behind indie baroque-pop ensemble San Fermin; lyricist, composer, arranger, songwriter, Ludwig-Leone is San Fermin. For the debut, self-titled album, the musician relied on the help of his friends in the studio, but now with the sophomore release of Jackrabbit, Ludwig-Leone has turned the one-man show & friends into a fully-function, touring 8-piece troupe. A controlled frenzy of horns, strings, percussion, and complimenting vocals, Jackrabbit is an intense musical venture: unpredictable, melodramatic, and exhilarating with every note.
The compositional style of Ludwig-Leone exaggerates the simplicity of indie rock while expanding the soundscape with explosive orchestral arrangements, utilizing the emotional dramatics of the sound to compliment the lyrical component. Opening track “The Woods” quickly builds into a chaotic and dramatic flurry, while the fable-style lyrics set the adventurous mood. “Ecstatic Thoughts” shares a similar grandiose ambience, with the downsized orchestra contributing full-force.
Vocal responsibilities switch between Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate; Kaye’s warm, female voice balances out with the richly deep style of Tate’s. An uncanny resemblance to the National’s Matt Berginger, Allen Tate fills the lower end of the soundscape with excellent performances on “The Woods”, the indie-pop track “Emily”, and folk-inspired “Women in Red”. Charlene Kaye has her turn to impress on a number of tracks: “Ladies Mary”, the passionate track “Two Scenes”, and “Philosopher” have the songstress reaching the higher end of the musical spectrum.
Scattered throughout the track list are an impressive amount of phenomenal songs. “The Woods” is an exciting opening with Tate delivering a vocal performance parallel to the blistering instrumentation. “Jackrabbit” adds a touch of pop into the cinematic album with an exciting and catchy chorus. Incorporating a stream of deep, electronic percussion into the mix, “Parasite” builds and crashes for four minutes as Tate and Kaye alternate their contrasting vocals. Moving the spotlight to the string section, “The Reckoning” matches the dramatic voice of Tate and the likewise dramatic effects of the violin and cello for the slow and passionate song.
Each song from Jackrabbit has its own unique dynamic and personality, making the album a wonderful, unpredictable experience from start to finish; the Brooklyn octet are raising the bar in the indie rock world. The Guardian has an exclusive stream of the album, and head over to the band’s website for tour dates and to buy the album.