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.
Cameron DeOrdio is parsing nonconformity and anti-conformity to…
The abdicated kings of late-nineties hardcore are back, with Swedish quartet Refused’s first album in seventeen years, Freedom, set to drop in a couple of weeks. Even though the album itself was only announced a few short weeks ago, blindsiding fans who never expected a reunion, teasers have started to trickle out, including a stream of the single “Dawkins Christ,” available through the BBC. “Dawkins Christ” feels like a fitting evolution for Refused, perhaps drawing more heavily on the group’s straight-hardcore efforts in their earlier work, even with the progressive influences that so defined 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come sprinkled in, especially in the form of the slow buildup that forms the track’s first 40 seconds or so. Once “Dawkins Christ” heats up, though, its following three minutes are an aural assault, taking aim at the easy comfort of zealotry. Recommended listening for skeptics and people who just feel like shouting sometimes.
While the hard-left Swedes may be expected to find an ally in outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, frontman Dennis Lyxzén instead lumps Dawkins’s elitist, exclusionary attitude in with that of the Westboro Baptist-types often cited as examples of the dangers of religious institutions. As Lyxzén explained in a recent interview, “Dawkins Christ” serves as a pulse-pounding reminder that those who would claim authority are not to be trusted, even though, Lyxzén argues, the world is scary and the confidence that comes with strongly held belief can be comforting. Having thoroughly enjoyed Refused’s initial run way back when, “Dawkins Christ” gives me high hopes for Freedom.
Dominic Griffin is sparring to…
“Stay In My Corner”
The Black Keys haven’t really utilized their unsung versatility since 2010’s Brothers LP, so it’s a real treat to hear Dan Auerbach stretching his muscles with new side project, The Arcs. Their debut track, “Stay In My Corner,” was allegedly written about the recent Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, but it’s far from the concept album stylings of The Mountain Goats’ recent ode to pro wrestling. With a slow chugging, lazy Sunday approach to balladry, Auerbach’s falsetto glides and soars, making this perfect hammock music, or, failing such a contraption, really good “passing out on the deck with a Bud Light Lemonadarita” music. It’s not quite the gleeful reinvention of similar side projects (Jack White with The Raconteurs springs to mind) but if the rest of the album is populated with easy listening as engaging and inspired as this, I’m all in.
As a casual fan of TV Girl’s lo-fi, sample-based bedroom pop, it’s always a pleasant surprise when they drop new music. They’ve never been an act I actively seek out or yearn for new tunes from, but there’s an effervescence about their sound, at once homespun and otherworldly, that’s hard to resist. Brad Petering’s flat, peculiarly unadorned vocals read like a particularly precocious teen’s diary being exorcised from a cassette tape. Sonically, they’ve never really outpaced the unique power of their Todd Rundgren repurposing “If You Want It,” but since that 2011 cut, they’ve refined their vibes with smart little flourishes that expand their style without nuking its DIY charm.
On “Natalie Wood,” there’s a glittering squeal to the frenetic instrumental that supercharges Petering’s rote musings and old Hollywood references, like the song is being performed on a rapidly deteriorating bridge between a stoned loner’s dorm and an alternate reality populated by old drum machines and a busted keyboard. This cut probably won’t make their next full-length, titled Who Really Cares, but it’s a nice appetizer that should hold fans over.