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.
David Lebovitz is dancin’ to the oldies by…
The Who Hits 50!
To celebrate their upcoming fiftieth anniversary greatest hits album, The Who (well, the surviving members of The Who) have released their first original single in eight years. “Be Lucky” is a rock anthem about working hard, taking chances, and the ol’ rock standard of music telling you that everything will be alright along the way. The more things change, the more things stay the same, huh?
The sound is classic Who, reminiscent in particular of the Quadrophenia era, and could easily pass as a lost track from that album if it didn’t reference modern pop culture. Roger Daltrey’s vocals are on point here. It sounds like he’s barely aged a day in the half century he’s been singing professionally. Townsend’s guitar riffs are as solid as ever, and Zak Starkey’s drumming still gels. Despite their age, and against all odds, the Who can still somehow deliver.
A song highlight: Daltrey name-checks Daft Punk, and follows it with a robot voice. A surprising and clever reference for a seventy-year-old elder statesman of rock and roll.
Royalties from the single will be donated to Daltrey and Townsend’s charity Teen Cancer America, so when this becomes commercially available it wouldn’t hurt to throw some money at it.
Dylan Roth is reliving the future to…
A great artist is a slave to no genre, and for Gerard Way, this is more true than for most. First admired for fronting the punk/glam/”don’t-call-us-’emo’” icons My Chemical Romance, Way attracted a large and loyal following with four dramatically different MCR albums before striking out on his own as a solo artist. He’s even amplified his appeal by expanding into the comics world, writing the Eisner-winning The Umbrella Academy and employing a Grant Morrison-like mysticism. (Morrison himself is a fan, and they’ve each been muses for the other over the past decade.) In a world where true rock godhood is a rarity, Gerard Way is a figure whose cult status feels destined and just.
His first solo album, Hesitant Alien, is not a mind-blowing accomplishment, but it is a demonstration of how Way cannot be put in any one box. MCR was notoriously difficult to classify and tended to reject any labels foisted upon them, and Hesitant Alien demonstrates this same quality. Way has cited that Britpop was one of the key genre influences on the album but that’s just one ingredient at play here. My favorite cut off the record, “Millions,” makes me imagine Smashing Pumpkins covering a Matthew Sweet single, all while being one hundred percent recognizable as a Gerard Way composition. (Listen to that pre-chorus, that’s where you’ll find the strongest hints of old MCR.) It does feel rooted in the Britpop of the nineties, but it’s also in line with indie rock’s contemporary romance with fuzz. This song is seamlessly A-B-able with any cut on the last Dum Dum Girls album. “Millions” has a timeless quality to it; it doesn’t feel nostalgic for the past, it feels like it was recorded in the future with nostalgia for now.
Julian Ames is air guitaring to…
“(I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart”
Terry & Louie
“(I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart” b/w “She Loves Him” 7”
About 11 years ago, Portland band The Exploding hearts released Guitar Romantic, a great album that embodied all the best of late 70s garage, punk, and power pop. In the midst of the garage rock revival (the album was released on the same day as The White Stripes’ Elephant) the band was poised to make some serious waves in the music scene. Tragically, before the band could really enjoy any success from the album, three of its members lost their lives in a car crash, leaving guitarist Terry Six as the only surviving member. After that, Six took a long hiatus from music. Now it seems he’s back and working with one-time Exploding Heart keyboardist (he left the band before they recorded their album) King Louie Bankston to perhaps rekindle some of that Guitar Romantic magic.
The resulting collaboration is the Terry & Louie 7” single “(I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart” b/w “She Loves Him,” released on Six’s own Tuff Break label. The A side, “(I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart” shares some similarities to old Exploding Hearts songs, but much more subdued. Where The Exploding Hearts were young, dumb, and full of–well, you know, Terry & Louie are older, wiser, and have more tools at their disposal. The song opens up with a classic-sounding riff from Six’s guitar – we also get some great imagery: “I got a heart so hard to beat, it’s bleeding out on a one-way street.” The end result is a short, sweet, fun, well produced power pop song reminiscent of Nick Lowe (who they cite as an influence) or Paul Collins.