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.
Julian Ames is pleasantly surprised by…
“Look At Your Life”
Most of the world was introduced to Death via the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death; the film chronicled the Hackney brothers, three black brothers from Detroit in 1974 who made music that sounded an awful lot like punk before punk was really a thing. It covered their initial failure at stardom, and their eventual rise to cult status when their recordings were found and released in 2009 as the album …For the Whole World To See. Since that album and documentary, the surviving members of Death (tragically, David Hackeny, the creative force and one of the songwriters, died in 2000 and never got to see his band become popular) have been touring, and releasing several other archival albums. But this past week, the band announced the first album of new material, out on April 21st and appropriately titled N.E.W.
Along with that announcement, Death released the first song from N.E.W., called “Look At Your Life,” and it’s a pretty fitting follow-up to the songs they recorded in the seventies. “Look At Your Life” is filled with punk energy, from the erratic start-stop nature of the verses, to the “Raw Power”-esque lead guitar shredding in the middle. The way the bass and guitar play out in parts of the song actually remind me of the post-punk band Gang of Four. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you like any form of punk: proto-, post-, or otherwise, you definitely need to give this song a listen.
“Nothing But A Heartbeat”
Say Lou Lou
I was originally turned on to the twin sister duo Say Lou Lou in 2013, when they released a song that I like to pretend is about me. Besides just the name, the cool, dark synths and dance beats really drew me in, and it became and remains one of my favorite songs. “Nothing But A Heartbeat,” released almost two years later from Say Lou Lou’s upcoming debut album Lucid Dreaming, is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from “Julian;” instead of a dark, cool track, “Nothing But A Heartbeat is a big, soaring pop anthem aimed at the top stadium bleachers. This big, shiny track is not what I was expecting, but the ladies own it, especially with their “ohh whas.” I wonder if they’ve totally traded their dark synth aesthetic for a shimmering anthemic one on their new album, or if they’re planning to mix it up. Only time will tell, and I’ll be waiting to hear more.
Dominic Griffin is just enjoying the shit with…
Pilot Talk III
Much the same way Woody Allen has been making essentially the same film ever year since the seventies, frighteningly consistent weed rapper Curren$y adheres to a pretty set aesthetic, and releases music (often free of charge) with a workmanlike regularity. On new single “Briefcase,” when he says he’s “on for hella seasons like Cheers” it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder that just because his reliably same-y lyricism has long since gone into syndication, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself spinning it when the mood fits. His subject matter has remained unchanged (smoking weed, eating snacks, driving nice guys, playing Madden), but there’s something comforting about his syrupy flow and relaxed presence. There’s nothing wrong with making stimulating music to unwind to, and although his music tends to feel like a long car ride with no destination in sight, he takes the scenic route, veering here and there to keep things interesting.
In an age where few rappers can stay loyal to one producer, it’s also refreshing that Spitta regularly links up with one beatmaker for whole projects. The first two Pilot Talks, largely produced by legendary NYC producer Ski Beatz, cultivated such a wonderful set of vibes that hearing the duo re-team for the first installment from the end of the trilogy feels like coming home. I just typed “end of the trilogy,” but, not unlike Cheers, I’d be comfortable following this series in reruns as long as it’ll have me.
Mike Duquette is finding himself to…
Here at Deadshirt.net (“A Place for Friends,” now that Myspace is basically defunct), when my fellow purveyors of content speak, I listen. Such was the case last week when Deadshirt’s head honcho passed me a link to the debut EP by singer-songwriter Tor Miller, correctly insisting I’d like it. I’ve been able to find astoundingly little about Miller, apparently an NYU student who earned a fine amount of BBC buzz for his high-emotion, low-fidelity tunes, but his Headlights EP, which kicks off with the deeply evocative “Midnight” embedded above, has me in rapt attention. The track is immediately scene-specific, with bountiful references to East Village landmarks, and universal, capturing the sound of weary dreams after hours. If this kid’s really under the drinking age, I’m going to need a drink myself to comprehend how worldly his tunes are.
I’ve had nothing but good things to say about the Brooklyn-born quartet The Damnwells since stumbling upon their most recent studio effort, 2011’s No One Listens To The Band Anymore. That album had a pretty funny double meaning in its title; at the time, the band was essentially down to two regular members, singer/songwriter/guitarist Alex Dezen and bassist Ted Hudson. For their fifth, self-titled album, due out in April, they’ve gone back to basics, bringing guitarist David Chernis and drummer Steven Terry back to the lineup.
Lead track “Lost” is exactly what you’ve come to expect from the band, no matter how many members you remember they’ve had: a heartfelt, acoustic-driven road song driven by an ethereal chorus and the heart-filling lyrics of Dezen (who, in between Damnwells albums, released four solo EPs in 2014 and earned songwriting credits for Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, and Court Yard Hounds). The Damnwells were no weaker as a duo, but the added muscle of Chernis and Terry, last heard in full on 2006’s Air Stereo, arguably their strongest album, is a welcome treat for fans old and new.