Bryce Rudow is a contributing writer for All Things Go
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
- Dance for the Dying – “Echo”
To pay the bills in between snarky music columns, I work at iStrategyLabs, a co-producer of DCWEEK. For the opening party, we booked a few local bands, and my co-worker who is our official “Festival Director” asked me to put together a little writeup about them for the DCWEEK blog. I knew nothing about either of the bands and wasn’t too enthused about the project — until I hit play on Dance For The Dying’s “Echo”.
Admission: While this is off their debut self-titled EP and not from their more recent Puzzles for the Traveler, it is an amazing opening track and the perfect introduction to this group.
Before hearing Dance for the Dying’s music, I couldn’t help but wonder where their name originated from. For those fellow inquisitive minds, it originates from a performance that drummer Chris Link saw while in India that involved children dancing for their elders (a little morbid, right?). However, once I give them a listen, the only thing my mind was registering was the fact that this band was incredibly, incredibly talented. Lead vocalist M.C. Wolfe has taken the badassery of Metric and the beauty of Blondie to create an infectious blend of the two that seamlessly floats over the driving guitar and bass riffs of Joshua Hunter and Brad Cantor. The drums keep the song dance-floor ready, but it’s the passionate breakdown reminiscent of indie-rock contemporaries The Joy Formidable that really elevates the song’s final 30 seconds.
I’m a sucker for most local acts, but Dance For The Dying is one of those bands that I truly see blowing up soon. They did a great job enthusing the DCWEEK crowd, but I have to admit that I’m much more excited for the day I get to see them rock a proper venue.
- Mesita – “XYXY”
You know those bands that you enjoy so much that you don’t even like sharing them with people? They are your own little musical stuffed animals that are symbols of comfort and individuality, even though you rationally know that there are hundreds or thousands of people snuggling up with that same musical teddy bear. Ever since I stumbled upon “For The Best” a few years back, Mesita has been one of those bands.
Back then, Mesita was something like Band of Horses with better instrumentation and a more positive outlook on life, featuring standout tracks like “Cowards Run” and “Your Free Spirit” that received some short-lived buzz. But my oh my how two years can change a band’s sound…
From the opening strings and digitized percussion of “XYXY”, I knew this was going to be a different sort of sonic adventure with my stuffed animal band. James Cooley has honed his vocals into an instrumented weapon that dances between passionate and haunting. Musically, he throws the kitchen sink at us and somehow makes it exquisite. Static buzzes fall over twinkling keys as a simple jazz hop drumbeat keeps time. The piano breakdown and outro is as unexpected and beautiful as Modest Mouse’s in “Blame it on the Tetons”, and that is one of the highest compliments I think i can give.
This is the first single released on Mesita’s upcoming second LP, Future Proof, which is going to be released early next year and a must-buy whenever it comes out. Enjoy the new stuffed animal…
- Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
While Tyler the Creator may be the most celebrated member of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt is hands down the most talented. When I first started listening to said Wolf Pack it was because Tyler intrigued me (especially the dark video for “Yonkers“), but it was Earl that impressed me. His wordplay on tracks like “Earl” and “Home” showed a mastery of verse control that given his young age could be tagged as prodigy caliber.
My first “wow” moment with Earl was his take on Rich Boy’s “Drop” which begins with him declaring “I know everyone has their fucking version of this but no one did it justice” and ends with him having given the beat the amazing vocals you didn’t even know it deserved.
On his new single “Chum”, Earl turns that excited “wow” into a blown away “…whoa”. Over a sweetly sampled piano, he writes a thank you song to his previously-mentioned mentor, Tyler, that rivals Eminem’s verse on Dr. Dre’s “What’s The Difference?”. But where Em’s gratitude is based off Dre’s colorblindness when it comes to talent, Earl seems to be thanking Tyler for his outright love, calling him a big brother that was there for a younger kid who missed his dad.
On the track, Earl finally proves that he can be both impressive and, like Tyler, intriguing — this time for his emotional honesty and not for his mysterious physical absence during the groups’ rise to fame. The second half of the song addresses that enigmatic disappearance, lamenting the downsides of finally being in the spotlight and the public eye.
I almost feel like a proud father listening to the young artist reach a new level in his songwriting, and I’m excited to hear what else he has in store for me.
- Atoms For Peace -“What The Eyeballs Did”
The supergroup of supergroups, Atoms For Peace, has emerged again with a B-side to their debut single “Default”. With a group roster that boasts Thom York, Flea, Joey Waronker and Nigel Godrich, Atoms For Peace delivers on the high expectations set for them since they were tentatively formed in 2009. While they had played a few live shows featuring new material, this single and B-side (as well as an official website) are their first foray into a solidified, focused musical effort.
Where “Default” wooed us with alluring vocals and a steady, delayed beat, “What The Eyeballs Did” comes right for us with a bass line that highlights Flea’s talent while showing us that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. The other elements of the song aren’t too big a departure from Yorke’s solo album which isn’t too surprising.
There are rumors that a full-length album is in the pipeline for next year, but since Thom isn’t known for his advanced marketing, expect this to be a nice surprise that comes out of nowhere in the upcoming months.
* Because the world is full of assholes, DC-based music group Project-U got all their equipment stolen (including laptops) while in Paris for a show. Apparently, the total cost of all the stuff was over $5,000 so you can imagine they’re pretty devastated. They have a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, so if you’re feeling generous and don’t feel like helping Jersey out, throw them a few bucks.