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Emil & Friends

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Listen to Crystal Ball

Who is Emil & Friends? In 2008, the Wikipedia page of actor Emile Hirsch informed us that his “band goes by the name of Emil and Friends and is currently touring the United States.” Ever a beacon of factual credibility, Wikipedia was innocently reflecting rumors started by one rapscallion, Emil Hewitt, who was the real Emil behind the music, and who had propagated the hoax in a shameless effort to get his music heard.

And the story of Emil & Friends came into our world thusly–via a fuzzy, falsified connection to a celebrity. Fortunately, the backstory was accompanied by music bright with fresh basslines, colorful guitar riffs and the whimsical charm of Emil’s vocals. Three years and many buzzy HypeMachine remixes later, after moving to New York and refining his sound, Emil has established himself as a riser in the NYC music scene. The artist formerly known as Emile releases his full-length debut Lo and Behold on Cantora Records.

Somewhere at the confluence of Emil’s chief inspirations–Queen, French house music and Timbaland–blended together with his flair for musical theater, he arrives at Lo and Behold, an eccentric musical journey he self-classifies as weird Pop. Beginning to end, the album is deliciously fantastical and schizophrenic, from the loungy banger “C.U.P.I.D.” to the dreamy ballad “Prescriptions,” to the disco shaker “Raincheck.” Emil’s debut is an exotic palette of musical moods, with tracks that sizzle, others that stir, and others still that soothe.

So who is Emil & Friends? Both a man and a myth. A con-man and a connoisseur. A mixologist and a remixer. A rising star and a star stalker. Overall, and perhaps ironically so given Emil’s fabricated identity, what shines most brightly on Emil’s debut is his own personality. He approaches each song with a distinct persona, and when held as a collection of songs, in Emil we find a highly relatable and transparent voice–the product of a generation as fickle and fragmented as the album itself.

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