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.
Sam Paxton is shimmying to…
“God Help The Girl”
Belle and Sebastian feat. Emily Browning
God Help the Girl: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Indie Rock/Twee Pop
Full disclosure: this is easily the most precious song I have heard all year. “God Help The Girl” was originally written by Glaswegian singer-songwriter Stuart Murdoch for his project of the same name–the group and album were conceptualized as a series of stories about young women entering adulthood. Murdoch eventually took the themes of the album and spun them into a musical film that premiered to acclaim this past January at Sundance. For the film’s official soundtrack, Murdoch re-recorded “God Help The Girl” with his primary band, indie darlings Belle and Sebastian, and had lead actress Emily Browning record the vocals. The result is sweet and naïve. Browning’s vocals are simple and more than a little kewpie, but they work well in the context of the song. Otherwise, the track is pure B&S, with twangy lead guitar and soaring string flourishes that can’t help but elicit a smile. For those who were excited to hear recently that Belle and Sebastian are working on a new album, “God Help The Girl” is a fantastic way to whet the appetite while you wait.
“War On The East Coast”
The New Pornographers
Indie Rock/Power Pop
Dan Bejar tracks on New Pornogaphers records are, historically, a tricky proposition. At their best (“Jackie, Dressed In Cobras,” “Chump Change”), they’re tightly-wound left turns that send the album shooting off in a new sonic direction. At their worst (“Myriad Harbour”), they’re narcissistic, rambling, and obtuse. Bejar, well known in indie circles for his experimental solo work as Destroyer as well as his notorious shyness, functions best in the New Pornographers hierarchy when the rest of the band can ground him and keep him from getting too far into his own head.
Enter “War On The East Coast,” the second single from the NP’s forthcoming album, and presumably the first of three Bejar-penned tracks. Happily, the cut has all the hallmarks of a great Pornographers song: snarling guitar, driving drums, glittering synth touches, and an immediately singable hook. “It’s war on the East Coast / It’s war out West / Oh I don’t care, I don’t care,” Bejar wails over the cacophony, and in the moment, it does sound like war–Bejar’s self-indulgent tendencies battling for supremacy with the band’s utilitarian pop sensibilities. Ultimately, “War On The East Coast” strikes a pleasant balance between the two. Also worth noting is the video for the song, in which Bejar and AC Newman strut through a war-torn city; Newman uncharacteristically (and hilariously) mugs for the camera like he’s about to drop the most fire album of 2014. And who’s to say he isn’t? I’m pleased to admit that, despite some doubt on my part, Brill Bruisers seems to be shaping up as a welcome return to the band’s power pop roots.
Two weeks ago, Perfume Genius was not on my radar…then I caught wind of “Queen”.
Simply put, the song is stunning. It unfolds, broodingly and queasily, like a trainwreck in super-slow motion. It immediately commands your attention, as the forlorn vocals quiver over grinding, sawblade bass and regal keyboards. Mike Hadreas, the mind behind Perfume Genius, is known for unflinchingly staring down confrontation. The beautiful promo video for his previous album, Put Your Back N 2 It, was initially deemed “unsafe for family viewing” by YouTube (despite featuring no explicit material) for its depiction of Hadreas intimately interacting with now-deceased gay porn star Arpad Miklos dressed only in their underwear. Hadreas has explained “Queen” as being an indictment of “gay panic”, and the lyrical content certainly bears that out. Lines like “Don’t you know your queen / Cracked, peeling / Riddled with disease / No family is safe when I sashay” certainly read as an overt “fuck you” to homophobic propaganda. Like most of his oeuvre, it’s a brave, affecting and refreshingly direct track, and anthemic as they come.
Julian Ames is strutting to…
“How We Be”
Sudanese-born multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Galllab, aka Sinkane, is not someone I was familiar with before I heard “How We Be.” Needless to say, I will be correcting that very soon. All I really know about him musically is that he incorporates a ton of different influences, from free jazz to shoegaze, into his music. The song is a preview of his upcoming album, Mean Love, which will actually extend his catalogue to four full-length albums. “How We Be” exudes cool in every way; it starts out with a syncopated glitchy, almost chiptune sounding melody before bringing in the funky bassline and drums. On top of all of this groove sits Sinkane’s soothing falsetto warble, which gets harmonized later on. As the song goes on, accoutrements get added in, from flutes in the verses and guitar in the chorus. The whole thing shows off Sinkane’s influences, attention to detail, and ability to craft a great song. Mean Love will definitely be on my radar when it comes out on September 2nd on the always reliable label, DFA Records.
Slam Dunk’d is the newest project from producer Arthur Baker, who rose to fame in the ’80s working with rap group Afrika Bambaataa, as well as doing remixes of songs by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and New Order. Apparently, this song was recorded way back in 1979. Originally titled “Can’t Put No Price on Love,” the song was lost in the vaults of a defunct record label and only recently unearthed, remixed, and repackaged as “No Price” with new contributions from Chromeo and MSTRKRFT’s Al-P.
There could not have been a better time to put this song out–dance music of all kinds is incredibly popular and disco-sounding stuff is really in vogue right now, and “No Price” is 1000% disco; Baker breaks out all the old tricks. Strings? Yep. Horns? You bet. Incredibly repetitive lyrics? Duh, but that’s what makes it great. There is a bit of modernity to it as well; you can hear the parts where it’s been remixed and there are some new DJ tricks employed as well. “No Price” uses old and new tricks to keep people dancing, and dance they will whenever this song comes on.
David Lebovitz is understanding regret because of…
“Glory Days” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
Justin Townes Earle
Dead Man’s Town
As eloquently explained by Deadshirt Editor-in-Chief Dylan Roth, many Springsteen fans are not fond of artificial feel of Born in the U.S.A. (For the record, I count myself among those fans.) A group of notable roots rock musicians have gotten together and are releasing a remedy to that: the tribute album Dead Man’s Town, due on September 16th. The album is pitched as a song-by-song remake of Born in the U.S.A., stripped down to stay more true to the original demos and create a more intimate, Nebraska-like experience.
Justin Townes Earle, roots rock star and son of Steve “Walon” Earle, gives his take on “Glory Days.” Dylan singled this song out as “the most depressing Bruce song ever,” and Earle, understanding that, treats it as such. He doesn’t make the song a tearjerker, but under no circumstances would this version unironically play in a sports arena after a victory. This is a somber song of a defeated man, but one who has almost accepted his defeat. You can almost hear him sigh. There’s a sense of “I’m not gonna cry over this, I’ve cried enough as it is” in his voice and guitar playing, and it emphasizes the song’s lyrics in a way that the organ on the original doesn’t. Certainly makes me look forward to the full album – this may be the version of Born in the U.S.A. we’ve wanted for years.