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 reminiscing to…
Some artists are so big that even the hint of new material will cause the entire music industry to hold its breath. Kanye West is one of these force-of-nature artists; his forthcoming “surprise” album has people waiting for it like it’s the next Big One to hit California. And now, with this past week’s announcement of her new album 25 and new song “Hello,” Adele has the whole world battening down the hatches to prepare for a hurricane that will leave lots of tear-fueled flooding in its wake.
In her note announcing the upcoming album, which you can read here, Adele calls 25 a “make-up” record (as opposed to 21 which was a break-up record). It’s very fitting, then, that “Hello” is the first single – “hello” is the first word you need when trying to reconnect with someone, and the song is the first steps of a make-up. “Hello” plays like a one sided conversation between Adele and an ex-lover where she is trying to reconnect and reconcile, but the other party doesn’t seem very willing. That’s okay though, I have a hunch that this is just the beginning of the making-up process.
In a way, “Hello” is also Adele saying hello to her public once again. 21 was released in 2011 – four years is a long time to take in between records for an artist at the height of her popularity; so a little reintroduction couldn’t hurt, and “Hello” is just that. The song is a “Someone Like You” type piano ballad, serving to remind us exactly what it is we loved about Adele in the first place. Both that song and “Hello” showcase her voice and its dramatic qualities, but on “Hello” the drama is heightened with the addition of some percussion, strings, and Adele’s trusty backup Adeles.
It’s highly unlikely that 25 will be as successful as 21, as that album hit some truly once-in-a-generation benchmarks for sales. Additionally, so much of 21 came from being in pain, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of music Adele can make now that her life seems to be much more stable. “Hello” is a solid single, and a step in the right direction. 25 is out everywhere on November 20th.
Sam Paxton is checking his look in the mirror to…
“Dancing In The Dark”
Dancing In The Dark EP
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the Boss, but there’s something undeniably magnetic about Hot Chip’s incredible cover of Springsteen’s classic “Dancing In The Dark”. After originally gaining popularity among the band’s fans due to its inclusion in live sets, Hot Chip decided to release it on both a standalone EP and a bonus track on the forthcoming deluxe edition of their excellent last album Why Make Sense?
Rather than reinventing the wheel, Hot Chip stays pretty true to the original in terms of melody and music. The iconic synth theme is still there, as is Springsteen’s impeccable melodic lines, sung here in Alexis Taylor’s reedy, lilting voice. Instead of Springsteen’s shimmering guitar, the track is propelled forward by spiraling bubblegum synths and a hi-hat heavy disco beat. And just when you think to yourself “gee, this is sounding a little bit like LCD Soundsystem or something,” Hot Chip hits you over the head with it by sampling the first verse from LCD’s “All My Friends.” It’s a dizzying, euphoric track, a respectful take on a classic, and one of my favorite covers in recent memory.
Mike Duquette is spinning to…
“Dancing on Glass”
Have you ever heard a song that grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let go even after you voraciously tweet and Dropbox it to everyone you love? That’s exactly what happened to me with “Dancing on Glass,” the new single from synth-pop magician St. Lucia. The Brooklyn-based singer, born Jean-Philip Grobler in South Africa, has an uncanny knack for bright, hiccuping electronic rock propelled by a reach-for-the-stars voice that calls to mind Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. “Elevate,” from St. Lucia’s full-length debut When the Night in 2013, was one of my top tracks of the year, almost impossibly good.
Ironically, “Dancing Glass” arrived a day after I noticed When the Night in my iTunes library and vowed to give it a relisten. For now, though, it’ll have to wait in line behind this new single, a four-minute burst of rainbows and reverb that makes it feel like spring even as we lock further into the autumnal groove. Grobler (who co-wrote the track with Sugarcult frontman Tim Pagnotta and has also promised collaborations with Jack Antonoff on the forthcoming sophomore album) is onto something big again, and I can’t wait to hear what he’s programmed for us this time.
Dylan Roth is navel-gazing to…
The Perfect Cast EP
There’s a certain danger that comes along with dating a songwriter. So much music centers around love, sex, and heartbreak, so the closer you get to an artist, the more likely it is you’re going to end up the subject, either obliquely or by name. If you’re in a serious relationship with that artist, the two of you have probably come to an understanding about it, maybe even set some ground rules. But it’s also a longstanding tradition in popular music to write sad or hopeful love songs about people who don’t give a shit about you, or even know you exist. This unrequited love interest is not a willing part of the process, but their existence and indifference frequently inspires the best, most vulnerable kind of love songs.
Which is actually kind of fucked up, no? You don’t even have to know a person to become the subject of a hit pop song about how perfect or awful you are. You don’t have to return someone’s feelings, in fact, it’s more likely to happen if you don’t. (The song will be better, anyway.) Usually the artist withholds the subject’s name, changes circumstances enough to make it less obvious, but I imagine it can still make the muse in question pretty damn uncomfortable.
Sometimes, that may even be the intent, as it seems to be in “Trash Particle” from Modern Baseball’s surprise-release EP, The Perfect Cast. The song tells the story of a toxic non-relationship, in which the subject allegedly toys with the speaker, seeming to privately share his feelings but then mocking him in public. Vocalist Brendan Lukens comes across as hurt and vulnerable, while the subject seems cold and cruel, but this is only one side of the story, a story the subject, it seems, would prefer not be told. Through no choice of her own, she is now immortalized in song. I wonder how she feels about it.
“Is this the hook you wanted?” asks Lukens in the chorus, and it’s a good one. Expression is its own reward for the artist, but what is it to the subject? What, if anything, does she want?