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Song of the Week: St. Vincent Brings ‘70s New York Glam With “Down”

Julia Bardo, Torres, John R. Miller, and SHAED also dropped essential tracks this week

St Vincent Song Of The Week
St. Vincent, photo by Zackery Michael
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    Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, St. Vincent’s new album features a funky, time-traveling standout.

    The enigmatic celebrity of St. Vincent is one of contrasts. Despite the many years of performance under her belt (and the particularly high-profile moments in the spotlight over the past five years since Masseduction), Annie Clark has assembled a well-kept air of mystery around herself as an artist. It feels like the kind of celebrity from a bygone era: one in which personal lives are entirely separate from public persona, and art is the only conduit should anything personal be shared. St. Vincent lets her music, often dizzying in its musical complexity, be her form of connection.

    “Down” was the last single to be released ahead of her new album, Daddy’s Home, out today (May 14th). The song starts with one foot distinctly rooted in the modern era, before cascading into a ‘70s-inspired sound that invokes visions of a long-ago downtown Manhattan and “glamour that hasn’t slept for three days,” as Clark has said.

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    The bassline recalls Bill Withers — “Use Me” in particular — but the multilayered production and melodic quirks ensure that the song feels distinctly St. Vincent through and through.

    Plenty has been made of the conversation recently surrounding St. Vincent throughout the promotional rollout for this album; talk of messy interactions with press for interviews, prompting messier online discourse, has been difficult to avoid. Still, St. Vincent is a wildly talented musician, and one who has always had something to say as an art-pop firebrand, wielding her guitar as her weapon of choice.

    She certainly has something to say in “Down” and throughout Daddy’s Home, and if this is the only way we as the audience get to peel back even one of those well-forged layers, then it’s worth taking a listen.

    Mary Siroky
    Contributing Writer

    Honorable Mentions

    John R. Miller – “Shenandoah Shakedown”

    After 15 years in the game and some four years of sobriety, John R. Miller is at the peak of his songwriting powers. “Shenanodah Shakedown” finds our narrator musing over minor-key guitars at the banks of the Shenandoah River. But while one of nature’s marvels rushes onward, his thoughts swim against the flow of time, and fragments of memories threaten to pull him under. Before he fully capsizes, he finds comfort in the beauty that surrounds him, feeling nature connect him to his fellow creatures. “The hills move like lungs,” he sings, “The river speaks in tongues/ And I am not alone.”

    — Wren Graves

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    Julia Bardo – “Do This To Me”

    If attempting to glamorize a mundane routine as a way to escape sounds even a little bit familiar, Julia Bardo understands. On her nostalgic and dreamy track “Do This To Me,” and particularly the accompanying video, a sight all too common story takes shape: after a year overwhelmingly spent relegated to our bedrooms, the Italy-born, Manchester, UK-based artist sings for anyone who attempted, nonetheless, to create. The track has a bright, easy, Brit-rock feel to it, conjuring the feeling of driving in the sunshine with the windows down. “Do This To Me” precedes Bardo’s debut album Bauhaus L’Appartamento, due September 10th. In the meantime, romanticize your life a little with background music that’s fit for a main character.

    — Mary Siroky

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    Torres – “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head”

    Singer-songwriter Torres, aka Mackenzie Scott, cemented her place in the indie rock stratosphere with 2015’s Sprinter, a stunning guitar-driven effort that led to tours with Garbage and Tegan and Sara. We’re delighted to report that “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head,” the first offering from her upcoming fifth album Thirstier, is a return to that early raw (and rad) form. “I’ve been conjuring this deep, deep joy that I honestly didn’t feel for most of my life,” Scott said in a statement. “I feel like a rock within myself. And I’ve started to feel that I have what it takes to help other people conjure their joy, too.”

    — Gab Ginsberg

    Young Nudy – “You Ain’t Hard”

    With this bruising solo track, eccentric Atlanta MC Young Nudy makes a standout appearance on his cousin 21 Savage’s soundtrack for Chris Rock’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Over a sinister flute loop, Nudy matter-of-factly calls out anyone who’s foolish enough to step in his way. “You know Slimeball, he don’t give a fuck, yeah,” he raps. “I be up in my fuckin’ own lane/ You come up in my lane, I put you in the dummy lane.” It’s one of his most accessible tracks, and a fitting introduction for listeners unfamiliar with the oddball rapper.

    — Eddie Fu

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    SHAED – “High Dive”

    The title track from SHAED‘s debut album bounces and swerves with feel-good vibes — but the lyrics are as vulnerable as the beat is catchy. “Sold my soul/ Got everything I want but I’m not satisfied…Jumped off the high dive/ Don’t know if I survived,” sings frontwoman Chelsea Lee, suggesting that the D.C. trio’s journey following the success of their 2018 hit “Trampoline” hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Still, the music that came from it feels worth it: High Dive, which features production from Ariel Rechtshaid and Josh Fountain, is 40 minutes of auditory bliss. Dive in immediately.

    — Gab Ginsberg

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