Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Max Robinson is gettin’ something in his eye to…
The Breakdown (single)
While this week’s announcement that Prince is back with Warner Brothers after 18 years was huge news for fans, the no-fanfare release of the first new song from this deal yesterday was an even bigger surprise.
Prince’s output over the last year or so (usually with his newest project, 3rdEyeGirl) has led to some of his best work in years. Songs like “Screwdriver” are a return to the playful sexiness that made him a star, and his experimentation with a harder Rock sound is an ambitious, exciting new direction for him. “The Breakdown”, however, is a pretty big about face from these recent releases: a long, moody ballad. Prince’s endearing lack of lyrical subtly aside (“This could be the saddest story ever been told”), it’s an honest reflection on lost love and mortality in the form of a sparse R&B hymnal.
Prince’s more thoughtful love songs have always held a special place in my heart and “The Breakdown” fits nicely on the same mental shelf-space as early hits like “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” or “It’s Gonna Be Lonely.” While those tracks were the first yearnings of a young musician, the quiet regret that comes through in “The Breakdown” is indicative of a much older, wiser artist. As the song impressively crescendos into his signature, perfectly controlled screech, we’re reminded that there isn’t anyone who can capture the pain of the human experience quite like Prince.
Julian Ames is killin’ it to…
To The Top
Speaking of The Purple One, George Lewis Jr., or Twin Shadow, fits into the category of musicians I like to call the “Modern Princes”: multi-instrumental, African-American (or in this case Dominican) musicians and producers, whose music crosses between R&B, Funk, and Rock. In fact, several years ago, he collaborated with Lady Gaga for an official remix of “Born This Way” that sounded like it could’ve been a Prince composition. Typically though, Twin Shadow’s sound is all his own, combining those genres with an 80’s new wave sheen and modern electronic music production.
“To The Top” has all the same elements listed above, but still sounds completely new for Twin Shadow. When he rocks, Lewis typically does so in a very cool manner, similar to that of Tears for Fears or A Flock of Seagulls. However, “To The Top” is a straight up arena rock anthem with all the fixings: dramatic piano hits that make way for power chords, powerful and echo-y drums, and even a choir. A more cynical person would probably say that this song should be called “Over The Top,” but I actually like the direction this song takes, it’s incredibly uplifting and the title perfectly reflects that. The release of this track also came with an announcement that Twin Shadow is back in the studio working on a new album, but it’s unclear whether this song will appear on it or not. So hopefully there are some more genre-crossing new wave jams in the pipeline, but until then, if you’re looking for inspiration, maybe give “To The Top” a try.
Dominic Griffin is American Apparel window shopping to…
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is divisive as fuck, but I personally maintain a soft spot for this authenticity-deficient pop songstress with the Lolita fixation. Her debut album Born To Die was a wash for me as a majority of its run time seemed devoted to a poppy shimmer that operated at odds with the Instagram-filter, nostalgia subversion she so successfully aspired to curate. The lead single for sophomore follow-up Ultraviolence is a welcome throwback to the Chris Izaak in the “Wicked Games” video aesthetic that won me over in the first place. A low maintenance, surf rock drifter anthem, “West Coast” could easily serve as the opening credits for a CW series reboot of John From Cincinnati, which is a good thing. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys is behind the boards for production on this one. Odd, considering his previous vocal criticisms of Lana and everything she stands for.
Life as a buzzed-about female pop artist is rough, especially when it comes to maintaining relevance, but if the rest of the album sounds like this, I think Lana will do just fine.