This week's Tracking, the weekly series in which we discuss our current favorite songs, features music from Future Islands, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, Perfect Pussy and Liars.
Future Islands, "Seasons (Waiting On You)"
Much of the hay made from the autumnal fodder of Future Islands’ “Seasons (Waiting on You)” has to do with frontman Samuel Herring’s dance moves, as executed late in the evening of March 3 during the band’s network television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. It’s reductive, obviously, but I think the focus on Herring’s meme-inspiring, impassioned maneuvering is reasonably appropriate – his alternating of a bendy-knee’d wobble with yearning reaches for celestial bodies with an audible pounding of his own chest and head manifests as the physical mirror of his band’s unabashed knack for the shamelessly, heart-renderingly emotional. Herring and company hold nothing back; why would they? Why would anybody? On Thursday of SXSW during a set they played at 2:30pm Herring spoke between songs about staring contemplatively at the sea somewhere in North Carolina, he spoke about the memory of those who had lost their lives the night before, he spoke about coming home from tour to find you have lost everything. He reached for the blazing sun as though it had stolen something from him (time?) and he could pinch it out in vengeance. “Seasons” is a song about people changing; it is a song that you can probably find a referent for in your own life that made you want to reach for the sun and pinch it out or make time run backwards or roar like Herring does sometimes, summoning it forth from himself like an exorcised demon. It is also a song that makes you want to dance, so you should dance. Why wouldn’t you? If you have to purge the feeling from yourself here’s the antidote, sweat it out. [Genevieve Oliver]
Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, "Strange Colores"
Rewind five years: Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion has been out for two months and has already established itself as a milestone record of the 21st century; Dirty Projectors are gearing up to drop Bitte Orca, their best album yet – one of a very small handful that would come close to competing with MPP for year-end conversation. Present day: Animal Collective are in flux following their first lukewarm reception for an album in a long time, and while Dirty Projectors are still going strong, their revolving door of members has flung out Angel Deradoorian.
Enter Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, a collaboration between Tare himself, Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail drummer Jeremy Hyman, who are gearing up for the release of their debut LP, Enter the Slasher House, next month. The band always looked good on paper, and now they’re backing it up that promise. "Strange Colores" follows on the heels of the excellent “Little Fang”, and as you’d probably expect from this partnership, it’s trippy, layered and absorbing. It starts out a lot like a Centipede Hz track, with disintegrating transmissions looping over themselves. Then the psychedelic overtones and kitchen sink brazenness take over. This has Tare’s name all over it, but the presence of Deradoorian and Hyman are felt in the bizarre, off-balance harmonies and fractured, gut-punch percussion. [Brendan Frank]
Perfect Pussy, “Interference Fits”
At first, “Interference Fits” is all about clarity. With its (slightly) relaxed pacing, cohesive imagery (“Conversations of churches, and veils, and wives!”), and early-‘90s indie rock vibe, it begins as an oasis of accessibility and lucidity on a record that tends to bury its sugary hooks and torrential lyrics deep under layers of searing guitar feedback and shorted-out keyboards. “I met my despair in the daylight, and it was amazing,” hollers frontwoman and certified force of nature Meredith Graves. Like all Perfect Pussy’s songs, it’s a personal testament bound up with a political rant, this time against the confines of femininity, and that it climaxes with an absolutely breathtaking moment when the bands drops out while Graves slams home the line that gives the album its name: “When did we all decide to give up? Since when do we say yes to love?” But that lyric is also the dividing line between the two halves of “Interference Fits.” Until now, it smoldered, but here it ignites, collapses in on itself, hurtles forward toward the edge of chaos, crashes and burns. Sometimes, we learn, ignorance can be bliss, but that doesn’t make it right: in full, that line about despair reads, “I met my despair in the daylight, and it was amazing, and I almost cried.” Understanding can be devastating, the cost of knowledge proves far too high, clarity turns out to be unsustainable. So how does the band react? When life gets hard, Perfect Pussy simply rock harder. [Samuel Tolzmann]
Liars, “Vox Tuned D.E.D.”
Anyone who wondered if the moody WIXIW signaled a softening for the now-L.A.-based post-punk provocateurs Liars would do well to remember that this band’s whole career is constructed on the puckish fun of taking aesthetic left turns between records. New effort Mess wastes no time declaring its basic malevolence, and no cut sounds as evil as “Vox Tuned D.E.D.” Liars’ long-running interest in the mechanics and textures of dance music comes to the fore, in the martial forward march of its drum machines, its smears of fake strings, blurts of synthesizer so serrated they could draw blood. Most of all, it’s in the clockwork precision with which the song’s pieces fit together and with which its structure unfolds: check the way it launches from a spacious, drawled bridge into a doubled-down frenzy that more or less steamrolls over anything in its way during the last minute. Indeed, “Vox Tuned D.E.D.” is a rather predictable song, but as ever, Liars have fun twisting expectations and making the familiar uncomfortable. For this band, nothing is sacred and nowhere is safe; you might be able to tell how “Vox Tuned D.E.D.” is going to end after hearing its first thirty seconds, but that preparation doesn’t make the climax any less obliterating (or satisfying) when it inevitably arrives. [Samuel Tolzmann]