Rising from the lush musical landscape of Los Angeles, indie pop duo Strangers You Know are driving music forward with their ever-evolving sound. Comprised of Grady Lee on vocals and guitar and Adam Haagen on piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and vocals, the duo seamlessly integrates elements of folk, rock, pop, electronica, and whatever else strikes their fancy to create a truly unique sonic experience.
After a chance meeting at 2013's Coachella (which Grady snuck into), the twosome bonded over a shared appreciation for all things music (and Adam's cute female companions in attendance). A few months later they were drawn back to each other and began their musical ventures together. Their fortuitous encounter at Coachella and eventual collaboration inspired their name, and from there it was time to hit the studio and develop their sound.
Their efforts led to their 2014 debut on Something to Someone, and they've continued to grow since then. Determined to do things their own way, Strangers You Know followed up with their debut LP What Happened in 2015.
On March 11 Strangers You Know are gearing up to release their second EP Loosen Up The Leash, and their sound has continued to evolve since What Happened. Inspired in large part by a casual relationship of Grady Lee's that got a little too deep, the EP explores the ups and downs of casual love and the pain of unrequited love. Incorporating elements of soaring synth with folksier strings, the album is stamped with their signature sound and is set to make a big impression...
Loosen Up The Leash opens with an electro-tinged plea for monogamy on "Tied." What started as a casual fling is clearly evolving into so much more, as Lee strives to make things more official with a lover. Built around an anthemic chorus, on which Lee tries to define how tightly bound he and his lover are over soaring synths. His voice and argument are compelling over the shimmering production, and his hope for something more is evident even under his chill facade.
Bright strings and a folksier production sets the scene for "Believe In Me," on which Strangers You Know reflect upon the eternal qualities of love when nurtured by trust. Although Lee admits to struggling with faithfulness, he promises to give it his best shot over the joyous strings and striding beat. "Maybe I'm not the one but just think of what could be" his proclaims on the chorus. A sense of hope resonates across the production, and the positive conviction is enough to bring a smile to your face.
Unfortunately those positive vibes don't last forever, as Strangers You Know struggle to find a simple compromise on "Middle." Incorporating an almost psychedelic spin with funky electric strings over an atmospheric production, the track is one of the more innovative on the EP. "Love is too much, and like is too little / so you've gotta meet somewhere in the middle" Lee laments over the playful production, struggling to find some sort of compromise.
Strangers You Know strip things back a bit for a vulnerable moment on "Tell Me I'm Alright." Separated by a seemingly insurmountable distance, Grady Lee finds himself longing for his lover's happiness. "Are you happy, are you safe, tell me everything's ok, and I'll be fine" Grady croons across the sweet production. There is a fragile rawness to the vocal performance to the track, as Grady places all of his happiness in a lover's hand.
The project's lead single "Used" remains a true standout on the release. Featuring an alluring and darkly driving production, the track delves into the concept of finding balance in a relationship without feeling used. With it's striding sound, powerful vocal delivery, and innovative message the track is easily one of the best Strangers You Know have worked on to date and will undoubtedly illicit a massive response from fans. The recently released music video sees the duo taking things back to their roots as they forlornly walk around Coachella's grounds.
Things come to a close with a gentle, almost whimsical caress on "Sparrow Hand." Easily one of the most organic and self-aware tracks on the compilation, and Grady Lee's warm vocals embrace the listener over the dreamy production.
Strangers You Know make a strong statement with their eclectic stylings on Loosen Up The Leash. Honest lyricism and forward thinking productions set the duo aside as one of the brightest new faces rising on the scene, and the eclectic offerings prove their expansive appeal. Overall Loosen Up The Leash is a solid listen from start to finish, and it pays tribute to the discordance that can come from a relationship. Every day is different, and the highs and lows of losing yourself in love are perfectly captured by the collection of moving tracks.
With their history deeply rooted in a chance encounter at a music festival, things have come full circle as this summer the duo are gearing up for a major festival tour that will take them across North America. They'll kick things off with the Grammy Museum Homegrown Showcase at SXSW on March 18 before making high profile stops at Coachella, Hangout Fest, Firefly, and a BottleRock Napa Valley. Keep an eye out for ticket information on their website.
Loosen Up The Leash will be available on March 11, 2016. Keep up to future releases from Strangers You Know by following them on their website as well as at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and SoundCloud!