Week #18: Politburo – “Barrington Way”

This week’s blind date is Barrington Way by Politburo. You can listen along HERE.


What does it sound like? Let’s hit play and find out.

See you Monday for the Date Breakdown!

-BDME

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DATE BREAKDOWN: Dyke Drama – “Up Against The Bricks”

File Under: Alt-Country, Adult Urban Contemprary, Folk Punk

Before I get started, I should probably clarify that while I had never heard Dyke Drama before this past week, I was familiar with singer Sadie Switchblade’s other project, Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit (or G.L.O.S.S. for short). That band is comprised of members of the LBTGQ community, with songs striving to dismantle prejudice and bigotry against said community. But while GLOSS is a fast, angry ensemble hardcore punk band, I didn’t know what to expect from Switchblade herself. The answer: something incredibly powerful and unique.

Lyrically Up Against The Bricks deals mainly with feelings of isolation and loneliness, but contrasted by Switchblade’s upbeat and joyful delivery, an unexpected layer of hope slips through. These aren’t songs aimed exclusively at a transgender audience; these are songs aimed at humans, pointing out that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to equality. 

These are by and large songs about the human experience. Love songs. Sad songs. Youth anthems. Switchblade’s cover of Lucinda Williams’ “I Just Wanted To See You So Bad,”although more upbeat and punky, remains true to the original, and furthermore continues to prove that love is love. 

The best song on the album lyrically is “Cis Girls,” when Sadie sings “You say I’m second to none, a cut above the rest / You say I’m second to none– / but I’m still second to one, / One of those girls.” Without saying very much, she says everything. (A cisgendered individual is one whose gender falls in line with their assigned sex.)

The most powerful song on the album is the closer, “Some Days I Load My Gun,” an acoustic track that just rips my heart right out. With a looser, more intimate, isolated feel, the emotion comes through tenfold on lines like “It’s not that I want to die / it just gets so old staying alive.” But the kicker is the organ that appears at the end just as Sadie bellows the question “is there anyone?”

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Highlights include: “Say When,” “Cis Girls,” “Crying In A Bathroom Stall,” and “Some Days I Load My Gun

You can listen to Up Against The Bricks here.

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Going on a blind date with Up Against The Bricks:

5/5 stars

DATE BREAKDOWN: case/lang/veirs – “case/lang/veirs”

File Under: Alternative, Indie, Singer/Songwriter

My ears started their blind date in an awesome way: with the captivating voice of Neko Case. In fact, I almost tricked myself into thinking I was about to embark upon a full album of nothing but Neko (#nothingbutNeko).  But then came my first exposure to K.D. Lang, at the forefront of “Honey and Smoke“. Carrying a much more soothing and classical sound, Lang contrasts and complements Neko nicely. When Laura Veirs steps out from the backing vocals, the full trifecta becomes clear. At times it becomes difficult for me to distinguish between Case and Veirs, however, when it comes down to it there’s just something about the vocals of Neko Case that chill me to the bone unlike any other. Her voice is beautiful, stirring, and proving increasingly indescribable. While similar in tone, Veirs lacks that unnamable quality that truly makes Neko the most mesmerizing voice in the alt/indie scene today. 

Meanwhile, Veirs becomes the standout creative voice behind case/lang/veirs, with more writing credits on the record than either Case or Lang. And she’s absolutely phenomenal, just listen to the superb “Best Kept Secret” and try saying you disagree. And although at the base similar, when her voice intertwines with Case’s, it’s truly a treat. 

Lang fronts a decent amount of the record, ultimately grounding the trio with her effortless control. A song like “Blue Fires,” isn’t my normal cup of tea, but I have to say I have no intention of ever skipping over it. There’s something unique yet familiarly comforting in Lang’s sound that keeps my full attention. Her backing vocals are no different, and her contribution to the end of “Supermoon” is one of the most understated yet beautiful elements on an already flawless song.

But those golden magic carpet vocals of Neko Case remain the defining element of case/lang/veirs and I can’t say I’m surprised. As the only artist I’m previously familiar with on the album, I’m going to break my usual “blind” assessment for a moment if you’ll forgive me. This is both the same and different Neko Case all in one. I’ve covered the same portion and before I embarrass myself further with trying to describe the indescribable let’s talk about what’s different: restraint. That’s not to say she’s normally out of control, just a commentary on what she’s reeled in to collaborate with these two other fantastic musicians. The darker, more unorthodox gothic tones Case is known for as a songwriter are rarely heard here, but when they do pop in they work exceptionally well, as in “Atomic Number,” showing extraordinary control. The brash, biting, hard-hitting songs like The Worse Things Get‘s “Midnight In Honolulu” are non-existent, and while I absolutely adore that element of her songwriting, I can’t say it would belong here anyway. Simply put, this may be a more accessible Case, but in no way is this a less remarkable one. 

In short, while largely unfamiliar with the history and output of two of the three voices on case/lang/veirs, I can clearly see how they’ve come to be such respected names in music. All three of Case, Lang and Veirs add their own unique element to create a fantasticly unique album of its own. Highly recommended.

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Highlights include: “Best Kept Secret,” “Down,” “Supermoon,” and “Why Do We Fight

You can pick up case/lang/veirs at your local music shop, from Anti-, or stream it here.

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Going on a blind date with case/lang/veirs:

4.75/5 stars

Week #16: Case/Lang/Veirs – “Case/Lang/Veirs”

Given the holiday weekend, I’m announcing the next blind date a few days early. I just picked up a copy of Case/Lang/Veirs on CD, the collaborative album between Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs. While I am familiar with a couple of Neko Case albums, I have zero knowledge of the other two artists. I feel safe to say that I don’t know what this album will sound like. You can listen along HERE.


Check back on Monday, July 11th for the Date Breakdown.

Have a great Independence Day weekend! 

-BDME