Written by Maria Arroyo
Keep Shelly in Athens is a music duo (RPR and novelist/poet, Jessica Bell) based in Athens, and shares their new Defy Me EP out now. Pulling influences together to create an ethereal and psychedelic approach to their record, they create something bold and refreshing.
This duo is no stranger to the music scene, having played some of the greatest festivals from the Camden Crawl, Europavox, Middle Of the Map, and Sounds From The Other City Festivals to Coachella and the Great Escape festivals. They’ve also shared their music at venues like the Bowery Ballroom (NY), Corsica Studios (London), Lincoln Hall (IL), and even at Philly’s own Johnny Brenda’s and Roxy Theatre.
Their opening track, “Neon Glare,” grabs the listener tight, and makes them never want to let go. Their strategic use of intensity to build anticipation adds so much beauty and perspective to the song, all whilst sounding effortless. The vocals sit just above the rest of the mix, letting it soar while the instrumentation carries it over till the end, but also being mindful not to overshadow their delicate sound. Their next song, “I See In Your Mind,” brings even more inspiration from a spacey and psychedelic place with a visually stimulating video to match.
“Hold Up” changes directions a bit by introducing intense rock-centered energy that starts to mesh with their psychedelic-driven sound. There’s a huge pull of inspiration from the great jazz years of music and was the perfect blend of old and new.
The title track, “Defy Me,” carries a lot of weight with its somber tones. There’s this haunting and also hypnotic state that it has over the listener. It’s extremely intriguing and very powerful. “We tried to transform our anxiety about the future as well as our anger and outrage at everything that is happening right now-into something positive,” they explain. “I think this came out in a natural and unforced way, and we hope the audience will find some escape within these songs.”
Closing out their record is “Mirrors” which releases a lot of the emotional tension created in the other songs, and becomes a track full of resolution and comfort. “Mirrors” is almost a subtle and subdued version of their higher energy tracks, which overall, creates a beautifully executed send-off.
Defy Me uncovers a lot of ideas and emotions, without sitting too heavy for the listeners. Keep Shelly in Athens has been the underdog, and their talent is going to blow them all completely out of the water.
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