Snail Mail's sleepy songs have a way of waking you up. They rumble at a steady pace like a scrappy rock band playing to a small room, but then Lindsey Jordan, who just graduated from high school this past spring, drops a line like, "So if you look death right in the face, don't thank him / Because there's nothing and there won't ever be." You can feel the room nod in solidarity, and you could feel the NPR Music office do the same when Snail Mail performed "Slug."
Encouraged by punks in the Baltimore scene, Jordan started Snail Mail at 15 and released the quietly stunning Habit EP via Priests' in-house label last year. She's quickly found fans in Helium and Ex Hex's Mary Timony (who also happens to be Jordan's guitar teacher) and just went on tour with Waxahatchee and Palehound. She's just signed to Matador Records. Oh, and she once made blueberry pancakes with me on a short-lived NPR cooking show because clearly my kitchen is the path to success.
Jordan's joined in this performance by what's become her consistent live band (drummer Ray Brown and bassist Alex Bass), giving weight to both "Slug" and the soaring coming-of-age anthem "Thinning." Because we often ask bands to turn down for the office space, she jokes, "I guess I don't really know what we sound like because we're so loud. Now we're quiet and Ray's using the mallets and my guitar's all the way down — I was like, 'We sound like this?'"
Jordan closes the set solo with a new song, "Anytime." It is, perhaps typically for Snail Mail, slow and sad, but the alternate guitar tuning and Jordan's drawled vocal performance gives this song about a crush an aerial motion, like acrobats sliding down a long sheet of fabric.
Habit is out now via Sister Polygon. Snail Mail goes on tour with Beach Fossils in October.
Lindsey Jordan (electric guitar, vocals); Raymond Brown (drums); Alex Bass (bass)
Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker, Morgan Noelle Smith; Audio Engineers: James Willetts, Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Tsering Bista; Production Assistant: Marissa Lorusso; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.
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