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.
Sam Paxton is manic-pixie-dream-boying to…
“So Now What”
Wish I Was Here [Soundtrack]
If I had to pinpoint one band that is quintessential to who I am as a musician and songwriter, it would have to be The Shins. Like more of you than I suspect would care to admit, I was introduced to the band during a semi-romantic screening of Garden State, Zach Braff’s overwrought, twee-as-fuck directorial debut, during my freshman year of college. While the film may have ended up passing into lexicon as one big hipstery cliché, it also nailed a couple things. First and foremost is the stellar soundtrack, which prominently features The Shins in a couple key scenes. Frankly, there’s very little to dislike about James Mercer and Co., whose simplistic song structures and major chord progressions belie wit, emotional depth, and massive hooks. And though the sentiment may be a bit banal, it’s true what Braff says in the Garden State screenplay about the Shins’ music: “it’ll change your life, I swear.”
And now it’s 2014, and Zach Braff is at it again. The release of his new crowdfunded film, Wish I Was Here, looms, and it looks like more of the same: dreamy, tear-jearking footage scored by indie balladry. This week, Braff revealed that he contacted Mercer and asked him to pen an original Shins song for the film. The result, “So Now What,” continues the sonic evolution that the band kicked off on their last LP, Port Of Morrow. The track has a shimmering, wall-of-sound quality, with echoing, reverby vocals and chorused guitar that would go perfectly with a shot of someone sinking to the bottom of a perfectly clear swimming pool in slow motion. Frankly, I had low expectations for the track, as original songs for movies are rarely great, but “So What Now” stands tall with any other Shins single, and that’s high praise indeed.
David Lebovitz is putting his eyeballs back in his sockets after they rolled out to…
“The Writing’s On The Wall”
Here’s some things I could do regarding “The Writing’s On The Wall:” I could tell you how it’s a charming little song. I could talk to you about how it has a sound that reminds me of the soundtrack to Yellow Submarine. I could tell you how it has a cheery-if-not-haunting beat covering up clever-and-tragic lyrics. I could emphasize the catchy backup vocals. I could tell you while it’s not as catchy as “Here I Go Again,” it makes up for it with a surprising amount of weight and substance, given the genre. I could tell you how OK Go are, all things considered, underrated musically.
In fact, I just did.
But I could also tell you to watch the video and wonder aloud how these guys continue to pull things like this off and top themselves.
Dominic Griffin is slow jamming to…
“Gotta Have You”
I’d heard snippets over the last few months of a new R&B project from Chicago producer Patrick Pryor (responsible for the incredible Sorry For The Neptunes instrumental tape), but “Gotta Have You” is the first full salvo from #TheAnthonyWhiteProject, a collection of songs poised to bring back an old spirit to modern R&B without resorting to naked hipster nostalgia. Unlike the slew of bedroom producers Pitchfork and the like tend to champion, White’s vocals and Pryor’s instrumentation (here co-producing alongside LOSTPLAYLIST) work together to create a passionate feeling rarely heard on the radio today. It doesn’t sound like a rumination, a deconstruction or a commentary on R&B. It just is. It’s baby-making music in the truest sense, smooth, groovy, and alive in a way you didn’t know you missed this much.
When White references early Usher and 12 Play era R. Kelly, it’s less an exercise in vacant homage and more a pointed mission statement, a visceral declaration of intent masked as a sly, knowing nod to his influences. This is only the beginning.
If you’ve never heard UK songstress Jessie Ware’s debut Devotion, then you shouldn’t be reading this. I mean, not unless you can multitask and digitally purchase that incredible album at the same time. Ms. Ware’s sultry, pillowy songs occupy a very special place in my heart, so a new single from her is cause for celebration. You may remember her making a pitstop release covering Brownstone’s “If You Love Me” for teenage Japanese production duo BenZel. You may NOT recall BenZel being outed as Benny Blanco and Two Inch Punch perpetrating a little game of Recreational Appropriation. Divested of the necessity for PR masks, the duo are working on Ware’s new LP.
“Tough Love” follows in the footsteps of that Brownstone cover, adding a playful layer of New Wave exuberance to Ware’s breathy vocals and Herculean yearning. The neon falsetto work and bubblegum aesthetic feels like Prince the way Twin Shadow and Blood Orange sound like Prince, only her warm femininity replaces their cold, stubbly, skinny jeaned darkness with a bounce and verve missing from pop music today. This song is delicious, like some sort of substantive strand of cotton candy laced with Merlot.