Birds and Arrows’ recent guest spot on WUNC-FM’s “The State of Things” found husband-and-wife Pete and Andrea Connolly joined on banjo by Kyra Moore—but notably without longtime cellist Josh Starmer, who recently departed the band after four years.
Starmer joined Birds and Arrows in 2009 and recorded 2011’s We’re Gonna Run and 2013’s Coyotes with them. Earlier this month, the band sent a letter to its email list in which Starmer explained his decision to devote more time to his research work at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“While I’m extremely lucky to have played with Pete and Andrea, music is only one part of me,” Starmer wrote. “The other part of me can’t sleep at night because of science. It probably sounds insane, but I love that half just as much as the music half. I get excited both by new songs and by new statistical methodologies. And as much as I would love to keep playing in Birds and Arrows, I knew from the start that there would be a time where I could no longer balance these two sides of me.”
Starmer hasn’t cut ties completely. “We’ve already agreed that I’ll be helping out with special shows,” he added.
Although the Connollys are now back to their duo core, they’re seeking out other collaborative possibilities. “We are really looking forward to having different musicians sit in with us throughout the summer,” Andrea notes.
The first such instance is Thursday, May 23, at Casbah in Durham, where they’ll be joined not only by Moore on banjo and fiddle, but also Jon Shain on bass and Nathan Golub on pedal steel. Adron opens the 9 p.m. show; admission is $5-7.
Last weekend at Slim's, more than 15 bands played to show their support and raise funds for Paint Fumes lead singer Elijah Von Cramon at "LIJApalooza." As detailed in last week's Indy Week, Von Cramon recently spent considerable time in the hospital after being hit by a car. Those on stage and in the crowd responded, coming out to support Von Cramon, who was in attendance and front and center throughout much of the weekend.
If you weren't able to make the event but would still like to support, you can by purchasing Waste of Time: A Tribute to Paint Fumes from Bandcamp.
Last Year's Men
Guitarist and producer Mike Gardner may forever be most renowned as one-third of the ‘80s hard-rock outfit PKM. With bassist Pee Wee Watson and drummer Kenny Soule, PKM managed a timely blend of styles. The band could meet Sunset Strip sleaze and Texas blues boogie, birthing a groove-carving cousin to Van Halen and ZZ Top, as easily as it could mine Joe Jackson’s crisp pop or Journey’s stadium rock scope. They shared stages with a motley host of headliners: among them, Bob Seger, Cheap Trick, Ozzy Osbourne, Stryper, .38 Special, R.E.M. and the B-52s.
In the decades since, Gardner stayed active in music, filling the lead guitar role in an array of bands and producing others. Despite battling Parkinson’s Disease since 2009, Gardner seems no closer to retirement. This fourth annual benefit for Gardner’s eponymous foundation collects a fittingly varied selection of acts to raise money to fight the disease. PKM will reunite, as will their hard-rock contemporaries in Wilmington-based Sidewinder. Rock of Ages will pay tribute to the big-hair era, while All My Rowdy Friends honors Hank Williams, Jr. Alt-country favorites The Backsliders set a high standard early in the evening, after Black Creek opens.
Tickets are $20—$25 for this seven-set 7 p.m. showcase on Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre.
Concerts at Marsh Woodwinds are too few and far between, given that it’s the best listening room in Raleigh.
You can forgive owner Rodney Marsh for the infrequency: His priority is the instrument sales and repair store downstairs, so the shows in his second-floor space—lovingly decorated with a sensory-overload motif—are a bonus, born of his desire to fill the building with warm and radiant sounds when time and circumstances allow.
The next such occasion arrives Thursday, May 16, when Durham instrumental band The Third Expression sets up for a live recording in the room, sharing the bill with Raleigh jazz group the Bernie Petteway Trio. The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $10.
The Third Expression’s artistic approach is a perfect fit for Marsh Woodwinds’ eclectic visual setting, in that guitarist Mike Krause and his bandmates may throw most anything into the mix of their music. Within a set, sometimes even within a song, they’ll travel from free-flowing jazz to twang-heavy country to soulful R&B to squalling surf to swaying reggae.
By way of example, check out Krause and his rhythm section of Jane Francis (bass) and Chris Stephenson (drums) riffing on Jimmy Webb’s classic “Wichita Lineman” at Slim’s. They drive the tune far afield from Glen Campbell’s country chart-topping version and toward prog-rock territory.
More recently, The Third Expression has expanded to a quartet with the addition of pedal steel guitarist Nathan Golub. That move promises an even richer sonic palette for Thursday’s live recording, judging from the tunes they played for host Frank Stasio on a recent episode of WUNC-FM’s "The State of Things".
There’s also a plan for some collaborative numbers on Thursday with Petteway, an exquisitely tasteful guitarist who Krause respectfully refers to as his “guitar senior.” The two acts did a few tunes together when they shared a bill at Marsh Woodwinds in the fall of 2011 and “it actually came off like gangbusters,” Krauss reports. “I was personally expecting a borderline train wreck … but when you have such seasoned players who also know how to listen to what’s happening around them, it’s no worries.”
About a month ago, the crowd at Krankies Coffee in Winston-Salem was treated to a far different Lost in the Trees than anyone had seen previously. Playing the city's third annual Phuzz Phest, the Chapel Hill outfit—known for swelling strings, complex arrangements, and the uninhibited emotions of frontman Ari Picker—debuted a new line-up. There was no cello. No violin. No French horn. No orchestral instruments of any kind. Joah Tunnell—once Picker's bandmate in The Never, now the husband of keyboard player Emma Nadeau—added guitar, filling the gap left by departed members Drew Anagnost (cello) and Jenavieve Varga (violin). The five-piece reveled in distortion and rhythm, fuzzy guitars and synthesizers piling into art rock every bit as meticulous and as the Trees' string-fueled numbers.
Picker wrote these songs while touring behind last year's A Church that Fits Our Needs, finishing them last fall. After the heavy themes of his last batch, which celebrates the life and afterlife of his late mother, he meant to allow himself a break from writing, but the freedom spurred a creative outburst. With the new songs in hand, Lost in the Trees have played a small number of tour dates, road-testing the material before heading off to Asheville's Echo Mountain recording studio later this summer. This will mark the first time they have played an album out before recording it.
The INDY caught up with Picker earlier this week to gain some insight into the outfit's creative shift.
INDY WEEK: What spurred the transition to the new line-up?
ARI PICKER: My muse, I guess. [Laughs]
I quickly wrote the next record. We go in and start recording that in a few weeks. I just wanted, for the first time ever, to take advantage of the opportunity to tour the album and play it out live and try to see if some of that live energy could make it onto the record, just learn more about the music, instead of doing it all in the studio and then learning it live and then playing it for a year and realizing all of the things that could have been done better on the record.
I felt like the last record really did what it needed to for me, and we toured it for a year. I just happened to write the next one really quickly and wanted to do something really different, so here we are.
Phil Cook and the Guitarheels
Haw River Ballroom, Saxapahaw
Friday, May 10, 2013
When it was released in 1972, Boomer's Story felt original, even though it contained no original material. As with much of Ry Cooder's work at the time, the influential LP features his versions of traditional folk numbers and blues favorites, soul songs and diverse instrumentals. The sounds are cobbled together from all over the spectrum of Americana, lush Latin melodies sharing space with rowdy Band-style folk-rock. With Boomer's Story, the songs aren't nearly as fascinating as the way they're put together, fashioned with a free will, placing various strains of roots music on equal footing and allowing them to combine in whatever way feels most natural.
To pay tribute to such a record — as Phil Cook and his Guitarheels did Friday night — one need not replicate it note for note. That would miss the point. The Megafaun member and his cast of talented local musicians took to the gorgeous Haw River Ballroom with their own rowdy and redemptive versions. Taking up the songs that had inspired Cooder's imagination, they did them their own way, paying homage to Cooder's ingenuity and exuberance rather than settling for a simple recreation of one of his greatest achievements.
"We made some things our own," Cook told the packed house near the beginning of the set, "and kept some things the way they damn well were."
“We’re The Darkness from the United Kingdom, and we’re here on business!” By the time frontman Justin Hawkins made that introduction early in Friday night’s set, it was unnecessary: The nearly full Lincoln Theatre was clearly familiar with the British quartet, and the band was giving the crowd exactly what they came to see. While opening with the crude, autobiographical “Every Inch of You” from last year’s comeback record Hot Cakes, The Darkness eventually played through almost all of its breakthrough debut Permission to Land, only leaving off album closer “Holding My Own” from an album stuffed with more legitimate hits than a Time Life compilation.
Wisely avoiding nearly all of its disappointing sophomore effort (save the cowbell-heavy title track, which was one of the evening’s biggest shout-alongs), the group sprinkled in a couple Permission-era B-sides, along with just a few cuts from its newest album, highlighted by lead single “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us.” The song finds The Darkness doing its best impression of Queen’s operatic acrobatics, while elsewhere finding as much influence from Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Aerosmith. With anthemic choruses led by Hawkins’ trademark falsetto, the band’s glam-meets-metal brand of hard rock was definitely derivative and undeniably catchy—an especially fun mix live.
The night had all the hallmarks of the archetypal rock show: lighters swayed in the air, hands clapped overhead, women perched on mens’ shoulders, tons of metal horns. The four-piece looked the part, too, with its smattering of bad hair, thick eyeliner and garish outfits. In a black-and-white striped leotard that was almost too revealing, Hawkins provided a theatric array of handstands, toe-touches, gyrations, pelvic thrusts and high kicks. Though the show predictably peaked with the set-closing megahit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” even the ham-fisted cover of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” sounded far better in the encore than on Hot Cakes, its verses chugging along to a metallic gallop while the huge, climatic chorus soared.
It was a fitting metaphor for the evening, as The Darkness certainly will never parallel its innovative British brethren in Radiohead. That knowledge—shared by band and fans alike—hardly keeps them from celebrating their status as unapologetic rock stars.
Editor's Note: Country legend George Jones died two weeks ago, on April 26, 2013, in Nashville. Longtime area musicians John Howie Jr. and Tom Maxwell provided reflections on Jones. Below, Maxwell, meditates on Jones' voice and why it had the impact it did. Meanwhile, Howie presents an overview of Jones' life from the perspective of a budding country fan whose own band went on to open for Jones. Read that piece here.
George Jones is gone now, finally. It’s surprising he made it this long, given his once prodigious appetite for alcoholic and chemical refreshment. It’s possible that he wanted to follow his amphetamine-fueled and skeletal hero Hank Williams to an early grave, but no matter how many times George threw himself on that funeral pyre, it just wouldn’t light. Instead, he died a dignified old man, one who had largely quieted his demons.
In his wake are the many tales—well told, and not worth repeating here—about his many foibles: four wives, money problems, performing entire songs in a Donald Duck voice while coked out of his mind, skipping gigs and, of course, the iconic riding mower drive to the liquor store. That he was a fuck-up was never in dispute. We also got to hear once more, thanks to the man’s demise, the uniquely depressing “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and a few of his better-known and tortured ballads. Everyone agrees, with some qualification, that George Jones was (possibly) the greatest country music singer of all time. I don’t know why you’d want to stop there. In life, he was without peer; in death, he will define an entire form of musical expression.
If we go back into his career—beyond the hair-raising honesty of 1999’s “Choices,” past the dated novelty of “High-Tech Redneck,” before even the ’70s duets with Tammy Wynette and ’60s hits like “She Thinks I Still Care”—we arrive in the mid-to-late 1950s, when George was signed to the Starday and Mercury labels. Unlike Patsy Cline, who teamed up around this time with producer Owen Bradley to make string-laden country pop, George’s departure from Western Swing took the form of “hardcore honky tonk,” relentless two-step dance music with often harrowing lyrics about alcoholism and failed relationships. It is here that we see the formation of his inimitable style and phrasing. At first, only in his early 20s, George imitated his idols Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Lefty Frizzell. When producer Pappy Daily asked him to sing like George Jones, he replied “I thought you wanted to sell some records.”
When he did find that voice, sung through clenched jaws, George Jones became an icon. He had the vocal acrobatics of Lefty and the ability to inhabit the emotional heart of a song like Hank. But what George Jones really sang like is a pedal steel guitar.
“I stole everything I ever heard,” admitted Ella Fitzgerald, “but mostly I stole from the horns.” It’s true; you can hear supple tenor saxophone bends of phrase in her voice, just as you can hear staccato trumpet blasts in Louis Armstrong’s. George Jones did not come from a jazz tradition. He didn’t perform with those instruments. What he heard, lying between his parents listening to the Grand Ole Opry, was fiddles and guitars and the metallic bite of a lap steel, the kind of slide guitar that accompanied his heroes. In time, the lap steel morphed into the pedal steel. It was still a horizontal guitar, played with a metal slide, but this version was given foot pedals, depressed to affect the pitch. In the hands of a competent player it creates swooping, crying melodies that clearly informed Jones’ phrasing. It’s plain as day on 1959s “Mr. Fool,” in the way he shoots up the octave, sliding and sustaining “But I have al-ways been a fool to cry for you,” or in the chorus, when the word “before” is wrung out through two full measures, George adding syllables as his voice tumbles down, like building a staircase just to fall farther.
When listening to George Jones and the pedal steel that accompanies him, it’s evident how alike the two are: the almost infinite sustain, the plaintive highs, the sudden modulations, the extraordinary range, the precise melodic pirouettes, and the dramatic, if almost histrionic, swoops. Both the man and the instrument trade in the notes between the notes.
Then there was his all-out assault on vowels. George Jones is to vowels what William Shatner is to cadence. Listen to the way he swallows the word “ring” in the chorus of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” or pretty much any word in “The Grand Tour” and try to explain why it’s all so affecting. What can’t be understood intellectually makes total sense emotionally.
Hank Williams sang like a hillbilly. You can listen to his records and know he was a Southerner. You might recognize his Alabama accent. George Jones’ singing voice cannot be completely identified as Texan. Instead, he’s Country with a capital C, more easily parodied than imitated, bending and distorting vowels every which way. If someone came up talking like, that you’d think they were having a stroke. But George wasn’t talking. He was communicating.
Many stories have come out about George Jones—some, in their outrageousness, probably too good to be true. Most of them center on the man’s personal failings as opposed to his artistic triumphs. There is one worth remembering, witnessed by a friend of a friend. In it, George is sitting by himself in a backstage canteen a couple decades ago. Bill Monroe, the single-handed inventor of bluegrass, walks in the room on his way out to the tour bus. Instead of a spoken greeting, George sings the first line of a traditional gospel song: “Some glad morning when this life is o’er…”
Without missing a beat or slowing his step, Bill harmonizes the rest of the line in his high lonesome tenor: “I’ll fly away.”
What a beautiful sound they made.
Editor's Note: Country legend George Jones died two weeks ago, on April 26, 2013, in Nashville. Longtime area musicians John Howie Jr. and Tom Maxwell provided reflections on Jones. Below, Howie presents an overview of Jones' life from the perspective of a budding country fan whose own band went on to open for Jones. Maxwell, meanwhile, meditates on Jones' voice and why it had the impact it did; read that piece here.
Legend has it that the great Frank Sinatra once referred to George Jones as, “The second best male singer in America.” It’s one of my favorite quotes about the Possum, because whether or not Frank actually said it, the quote makes a very good point in its tone: that even a performer as lauded as Ol’ Blue Eyes—who had very few kind words for other singers and almost none for vocalists outside of his own genre—was able to recognize George’s talent. That speaks volumes about the country music icon, who passed away at age 81 on April 26.
Indeed, volumes have been spoken (and written) about Jones in the span of his nearly 60-year recording career, many of them focusing on his mythological exploits with everything from guns to riding lawnmowers. Still, most of them acknowledge his position as probably the greatest country singer who ever lived. That sort of defining title is awfully meaningful considering the range of people it places George above: Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Buck Owens, Charley Pride.
Jones began his recording career by imitating his idols Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, making spirited, if at times generic, honky tonk records of the kind associated with the mid ’50s. A plea from larger-than-life producer Pappy Daily to “sing like George Jones” unleashed a soulful voice like no other; it propelled Jones to a career that would scale the heights of influence and idolatry, and sink to the depths of depression and addiction. As he moved from label to label, the hits came fast and hard, and despite his issues with the bottle and responsibility in general (Starday Records executive Gabe Tucker said, “Back then ... you never knew what that little bastard was liable to get into”), Jones became stood alongside his contemporaries Buck Owens and Johnny Cash.
The part about being the “Greatest country singer ever” would be the part of the equation that ironically brought George the most grief, the most difficulty, and, in fact, the most insecurity. At the height of his popularity in the 1970s, he became more famous for the scheduled performances he bailed on than the ones he actually attended (earning him the everlasting nickname, “No-Show Jones”). When he did show up, he was often drunk or surly, and occasionally performed in the voice of Hank Williams or Donald Duck. The truth, however, is that Jones had been making these career faux pas since at least the ’60s, an indication of just how uncomfortable and ill-equipped he was to deal with the trappings of the music business.
A shelved live album, recorded in 1965 and not released until 1987 as Live at Dancetown USA, gives us a crystal clear document of a typical Jones show, pre-sobriety: George is slurring throughout, forgetting lyrics, taking several breaks (one of which he refers to as a “liquor mission.” Get it?), and throws his band to the wolves for most of the show. Despite all of this, when he does actually sing, it’s clear that he was successful for a reason: The man simply could not be touched as a singer. Even in an environment Jones clearly views as hostile, his pitch is perfect, his phrasing immaculate, and his emotional delivery unparalleled.
By the time Jones bought out his contract with Musicor Records so he could record with then-love interest Tammy Wynette for Epic Records in 1971, he had several classics and hits under his belt—an extraordinary career that many performers could have and would have retired from. Amazingly, George’s true heyday was yet to come. The 1970s and early 1980s proved to be the best and worst of times for Jones, with his romantic and addictive trials being played out in legend and song for all the world to see.
Americans can’t resist a good love story, and the romance between Tammy Wynette and George Jones was the stuff of legend from the word go. By all accounts, George berated Tammy’s husband—yes, she was married when they met—like a honky-tonk knight in shining armor, and declared his love for Tammy at the couple’s dinner table. George and Tammy’s 1969 marriage spawned several romantic hits, and their individual careers swelled also, but George’s general insecurity (perhaps most horrifyingly manifested in his backstage-at-the-Opry grabbing of Porter Wagoner’s private parts and accusations of Porter sleeping with Tammy) was always around, just waiting to derail any contentment that might have otherwise been forthcoming. When cocaine was introduced to the mix, George became a danger to himself and others. He fired shotguns at friends, ate rarely, and hung out with generally unsavory types.
The hits, however, kept coming, despite George’s propensity for missing gigs, or showing up drunk to awards ceremonies. Producer Billy Sherrill made a conscious decision around this time to have George record in lower keys than he had in the 1960s. The results spawned some of the Possum’s greatest performances: “The Grand Tour,” “Loving You Could Never Be Better,” “A Picture of Me Without You,” and this writer’s personal favorite (and one of George’s last great co-writes), “These Days I Barely Get By.” Jones was counted out, time and time again. Listening back to his recordings of that era, you might guess it from the subject matter, but you’d never guess it from the quality of singing.
DUIs, more missed shows, performances rendered in the voice of Donald Duck; none of these could stop Jones from releasing his career-defining (at age 49!) classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Not even George’s reticence (“It took us a year to record it,” said Sherrill) or his outright defiance (“Nobody’ll buy that morbid son of a bitch,” said Jones) could stop the song from propelling George to a virtual sweep of the 1980 CMA’s, at which a thoroughly plowed Jones thanked the first people he saw from the podium: legendary country music married couple Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright.
Around this time, George was everywhere. Or, at least, that’s how it seemed in my house. He was always on the radio in my dad’s car (I thought George was singing “They placed a ring upon his dog.”), always in the magazines, and frequently on our television set. I have a very clear memory of my dad and I watching George as portrayed by actor Tim McEntire in the made-for-TV Wynette biopic Stand By Your Man. One scene—a particularly brutal one—found George thrashing around, trashing a room, clearly intoxicated. That caused my father to utter the immortal words, “He’s a drunk, just a godawful drunk, I’ll give ‘em that. But the man could sing the words out of a Fu Manchu book and make you cry.”
My dad’s reaction—defensive of Jones, despite all of the evidence of his shortcomings—was a microcosm of the general public’s feelings about George, and one of the major keys to his success. In spite of his very public screw-ups, the fans adored him, even as they shelled out hard earned cash for shows they knew damn well he might skip out on. Because when he sang “The Grand Tour,” with its pleading “Lord knows, we had a good thing going here” lyric, it sounded like he had lived every word. Not one second of the vocal track from that song or any of the other classics from that period sounds anything less than purely heartfelt and authentic. The fact that George seemed like anybody else who just couldn’t quite get their act together only added to the intensity of the experience.
Meeting Nancy Sepulveda, who would become the fourth Mrs. Jones in 1983, changed things considerably for Jones. With the help of the proverbial good woman, the Possum finally got his act together, settled down, sobered up, and enjoyed a stable life and career, often poking fun at his former transgressions. He continued to have hits—among them John Howie Sr. faves like “Wine Colored Roses” and “The Right Left Hand. Now slightly grittier with age, his voice still resonated with pain and honesty. Jones even completed his entertaining autobiography, appropriately titled I Lived To Tell It All. But the past, filled with cocaine binges, captured-on-film DUIs, and missed shows, was behind him.
Or was it? In 1999, George crashed his Lexus into a bridge, and supposedly booze was involved. Once again, despite tragedy, George’s work did not suffer. Recorded around the time of the crash, Cold Hard Truth, which included the single “Choices,” was the last great album Jones released. I saw George twice on that tour, and his voice was as good as ever, his band fantastic, the fans rabid. He had complained about his throat, and the medication he was on post-accident, but he sounded like gold.
After witnessing a Jones performance on television around 2007, I vowed to never again attend one of his concerts. I was glad that he was still out there, but his voice had deteriorated considerably. I was a little shocked by his performance. I still loved him, but I couldn’t bring myself to hear the Greatest Country Singer Ever when he was no longer living up to the title. My girlfriend, who had never seen Jones, talked me into accompanying her to his N.C. State Fair performance in 2011, where all of my fears were well-founded. You could still hear the Jones magic in the phrasing, but the power and resonance were gone, replaced by something far weaker. I left the show recalling the first time I’d seen George, in 1993 in Gaffney, S.C., and how at that time his voice had seemed to truly come from the heavens, filling the entire outdoor park. That show had been cathartic. Little did I know that I would, in fact, see George one last time, under what—for me—would be the most ideal of circumstances.
When my band got the call to open for George at the Durham Performing Arts Center, we were beyond ecstatic. The opportunity of a lifetime had been offered to us, and we had every intention of making the most of it. Despite how I’d felt about the last Jones show I’d been to, he was still my favorite singer, and I knew he always would be. When I arrived at the venue on the fateful day, the first thing I was told was that George was in no mood or shape for any kind of meet-and-greet. I was disappointed, but I understood. His wife, Nancy, and most of his band were incredibly nice to us before, during and after the show. Nancy correctly guessed the gender of our steel player Nathan Golub’s soon-to-be-born son, and she and George’s own steel player watched our entire set and were very complimentary. Hell, the bass player even gave me a free T-shirt.
After the Rosewood Bluff’s portion of the show, while our bassist manned our merch table, George’s band came out to warm up the crowd. My buddy Dan Schram and I stood in absolute awe mere feet away from George as he sat preparing for the show. We were just about the only people who could see him, but he still sat there smiling, tapping his foot, waiting for his entrance. I remember thinking that, despite his age and recent illness, he really looked like that was the only place in the world he wanted to be at that moment.
Lord knows, I felt exactly the same.
“Calm Down” (streaming below) is the opener from Ruby Red—the third album from Chapel Hill and Raleigh's reliably hook-happy and heartbroken The Love Language, due via Merge Records on July 23. That’s the cover art at the top of the post.
“Calm Down” is also the first of a handful of songs on Ruby Red that finds the normally grandiose pop outfit digging into deep garage grooves, taking cues from rising Bay Area rock acts such as Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall. Stuart McLamb—the outfit’s singer, songwriter and only reliable member—seems to have been paying attention to his competition, balacing his blue-eyed pop melodies and profoundly emotional songs with hints of rock ‘n’ roll grit and tight psychedelics.
The song announces itself a with quick and meaty combo of drums and bass before building up a gauzy, jangling wall built from multiple guitar tracks. The tender touch is familiar. The surging rhythm is new, matching McLamb with a nervy and somewhat concussive backbeat that equals his own irrepressible verve. Fittingly, the song is about a relationship in which the singer never feels at ease. “You won’t let me calm down!” he shouts in the chorus, the musical momentum driving him just as hard as the lover in question. After the final chorus, the band locks into a wild, two-minute outro. Distortion solidifies into a torrent of noise as the groove escalates with Kraut-approximating intensity.
This isn’t The Love Language we’ve come to expect. It’s something bolder. Check it out: