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.
Mike Pfeiffer is Headbanging to…
Last of Our Kind
There’s a tradition of weird medieval crap in Hard Rock, some vein of plunderous viking spirit that feeds the heart of heavy metal with molten steel at the occasional cost of accessibility. In this Game of Thrones you either win (Led Zeppelin’s immortal “Immigrant Song”) or you die condemned to only be played during D&D games (anything by Manowar). While I have the utmost faith in The Darkness, I admit to some apprehension when they claimed their next album would be “Medieval Rock.” This razor’s edge has been walked by much larger bands who promptly slipped and sliced themselves in twain. Remember when KISS did their fantasy concept album Music from the Elder? No. Nobody cares. Gene Simmons forgot the words to the songs from that album and Gene Simmons would cover a Charles Manson song if there was a paycheck involved.
I can’t speak for the rest of the album, but the lead single “Barbarian” isn’t too far from being a cut track from their first album. Heavy riff, classic Justin Hawkins wailing, satirical midsong monologue…My nerves are a little calmed. Generally The Darkness are at their best when they’re shellacking real emotion in stadium bombast so that your worst breakup or best night out seem like mundane bullshit in comparison, but songs like “Black Shuck” from Permission to Land or “Trojan Guitar” from Justin Hawkins’s offshoot band Hot Leg support the idea that, with the correct use of technical acuity potions and straight-faced delivery of the ostentatious, it’s possible to beat the odds. Here’s hoping their upcoming album The Last of Our Kind takes after “Barbarian.”
Mike Duquette is warming up to…
“Nothing Without Love”
Is it fair to say that fun. has had a hard go of it? Their breakthrough album Some Nights, released in 2012, spun off two huge hits (the chart-topping anthem “We Are Young” and the Top 5 title track) and propelled two of the trio’s members, singer Nate Ruess and guitarist Jack Antonoff, to in-demand songwriters (Ruess giving P!nk a No. 1 hit with “Just Give Me a Reason” and Antonoff being a key collaborator on Taylor Swift’s 1989). But their signature sound—those hand-on-heart melodies, Queen-like stacked harmonies, and thunderous rhythm sections—was overplayed enough to drive a good chunk of their casual fanbase insane, a difficult fate for such a solid pop-rock band.
Now, with fun. on hiatus and Antonoff pursuing a more twitchy pop muse with his Bleachers project, Ruess throws his hat into the ring as a soloist, with a full-length album due this summer. Lead single “Nothing Without Love” is basically what you’d expect as solo material from the main guy in fun., down to the Jeff Bhasker big-boom production tropes. But I think of Ruess’ unabashedly happy, romantic delivery, down to the upturned “na na na hey”s, and I think, radio formats be damned, this is exactly the kind of romantic pop I want to hear as the winter hopefully, mercifully comes to a thaw.
Julian Ames is staring sad-eyed out the window to…
It’s always interesting when the frontman or woman of a group releases a solo album while their band is still together. The music has to be different enough from the original band, otherwise people will wonder why they went solo in the first place. Mac McCaughan’s new solo venture doesn’t seem to suffer this problem. McCaughan is the frontman of Superchunk, so his distinctive voice, a breathy whine, is usually accompanied by shrill guitars, driving bass, and energetic drums. But on his new single “Lost Again” from his just-announced solo album, his voice is surrounded by echo, reverb, flange, and other sounds of the eighties. From the album’s description, Non-Believers will take musical cues from the “early-eighties era of music when punk evolved into something more introspective, focusing on themes of isolation and eventually turning into post-punk and new wave.” “Lost Again” nails this feeling of isolation perfectly with it’s subdued and sparse musical arrangement and chorus of “lost again, without you my friend.” This is pretty great music to be lonely and sad to and should be a great soundtrack to get you through this gloomy, lousy Smarch weather.