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 Duquette is stompin’ and swayin’ to…
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars hit paydirt with 2012’s sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox, which spun off five Top 40 hits, including the best Police track never made: the chart-topping “Locked Out Of Heaven.” “Heaven” and slow-burn jam “Gorilla” were co-produced by Mark Ronson, the British producer who’s twiddled knobs for everyone from the late Amy Winehouse to Duran Duran. Mars returns the favor for Ronson’s fourth solo album, Uptown Special, to be released in January. Not unlike Unorthodox Jukebox, the duo pays tribute to heavy hitters of pop, rock, and soul. In this case, it’s Prince, whose influence can be heard all over lead single “Uptown Funk.” Those quivering synths! That scratchy guitar and deep-pocket bass! And, by God, that acrobatic horn line after the chorus!
This “Funk” is more down and dirty than anything Mars has issued up to this point, but still has enough sheen to make it a potential radio favorite. The Uptown Special album will also include collaborations with producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, fun.), Emile Hayne, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, and Pulitzer Prize-winner/Spider-Man 2 co-writer Michael Chabon. Let’s hope they pack the kind of punch this first single does.
Charli XCX feat. Simon Le Bon
The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part I: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Charli XCX is not a voice pop music aficionados are quick to forget. She parlayed her success on two of the biggest featured hooks in recent memory (the fist-pumping club anthem of Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and the self-assured playground boast of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”) into legitimate solo success with the late-summer hit “Boom Clap” and the forthcoming album Sucker.
For the Lorde-curated soundtrack to the anticipated blockbuster Mockingjay (which already gave us an intriguing track by CHVRCHES), Charli has created a yearning chamber-pop tune undercut by dizzying piano and orchestra figures and driven by that megawatt voice. Another “Charlie”–the superfan’s nickname for Le Bon, the frontman of Duran Duran–shows up at the end, his throaty tenor offering the song’s dramatic bridge. But, as has been the case in a good chunk of pop music this year, this is Charli XCX’s track to own, with a vocal that could bend heartstrings and glass with every spin.
Sam Paxton is scratching his head to…
“‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”
‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore (Single)
Uhhh…whatever genre this is
If David Bowie retired from music, I don’t think many people would be surprised. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Bowie caught us off guard by releasing his twenty-fourth(!) album, The Next Day. Even more surprising was that, even after a forty-plus year career, he still creates music as vital, modern, and interesting in his trail-blazing youth. Since then, we’ve been hearing that “Bowie is hard at work on more music,” but have been given little clue as to when or where we might hear it. In October, Bowie released a new song, “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime),” and this week he released its B-side, totally without warning. To be sure, the man knows how to make an entrance.
That being said, this latest offering, entitled “’Tis a Pity She Was a Whore,” is frankly kind of a mess. Though it’s anchored by a driving drum beat, the plinking piano and brassy horn hits seem to disregard any sort of set rhythm or chord changes. Bowie’s signature dry wit is intact (sample lyric: “Man, she punched me like a dude”) but his vocals are low in the mix and sound weak and ineffectual. According to Bowie’s Facebook page, the song “acknowledges the shocking rawness of the First World War and the title is a play on ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore’ a John Ford Restoration play first performed in 1629.” Though I hate to say it, after the unexpected brilliance of The Next Day and his last single, the avant-garde affectation of “’Tis a Pity…” is ambitious, but ultimately a disappointment.
Julian Ames is being a total badass to…
Screaming Females deserves much more buzz than they get. The trio out of New Brunswick, New Jersey is a hard working, hard rocking band that tears up everything they touch. Since 2007, they’ve put out five studio albums and are gearing up for their sixth, Rose Mountain, out in February. Their name might be a little misleading–there’s actually only a single female in the band, but boy, does she scream, or more precisely, howl. Lead singer Marissa Paternoster’s vocal delivery is reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux or even Grace Slick, with her almost operatic pitch manipulation; it makes for very exciting and tense music when coupled with the Females’ sick, scorching guitars, which are also provided by Paternoster.
“Ripe” is an incredibly badass tune. The metal-inspired crunchy guitar riffs and punk-inspired beats give the song an energy that’ll bring out your inner Motörhead fan. The chorus lyrics are: “I say, peel the skin raw, pinch till the feeling’s gone.” It’s sure a complete one-eighty from the first song they previewed from the new album: the light and poppy “Wishing Well.” It’s nice to hear Screaming Females is still working as hard as ever.
“Something’s Gotta Give”
River City Extension
Also hailing from New Jersey, River City Extension is an eight-piece band that includes a horn player, at least one violin/cello player, and a pianist on top of the typical pop and folk rock ensemble. They make use of their many talented members with swelling, cinematic tunes and lush vocal harmonies, but they also know how to rock when necessary. “Something’s Gotta Give” is River City Extension scaling back a little. There are still some strings to be heard at the chorus, but for the most part this is a guitar driven track, the highlight being a dizzying solo in which the guitar frenetically runs up and down arpeggios. “Something’s Gotta Give” is the first song released off the band’s newly announced album, Deliverance, out sometime next year. River City Extension’s indie folk is perfect for this time of year when the leaves change and the weather gets colder, so I’m glad to have a new track from them and I hope the album is out sooner rather than later.