Speaking of songwriters

I distinctly remember when I downloaded of Montreal's Daytrotter session my freshman year, and now three years later I'm experiencing a bout of deja vu. It's a sparse acoustic joint (is that redundant with Daytrotter?) that lays a few of Kevin Barnes' songs bare. Barnes' voice quivers and breaks at certain points, and the whole performance adds a humanizing element to of Montreal's overgrown, overblown aesthetic. Of Montreal cloak themselves in majesticism and exaggerated materialism; but underneath it all Barnes is a heck of a songwriter, and this session is a good reminder of that. You can get it all for free from Daytrotter's site here.

Meanwhile, the Hold Steady have released the first track from their forthcoming Heaven is Whenever, entitled "Hurricane J." At first blush it's the same Hold Steady—romping guitars carrying anthemic shouts—but it seems more distant than older Craig Finn lyrics. Finn acts as a mentor to this character, Jessie. And even though he's ultimately trying to date her (for half the song, at least), he's judgmental of her decisions and takes on a more preacher-like role. Honestly though, it doesn't really matter. Finn's always been an enlightened observer of a lyricist, and if there's one person around today who can pull off a preacher role it's him. What's more troublesome is how much the song sounds like something off of Boys and Girls in America. Finn claimed this album would sound different than the last two, and especially now that mustachioed Franz Nicolay is off the team we were right to assume a noticeable left-turn would be in order. Boys and Girls was one of their best, don't get me wrong. But if there's one thing Stay Positive taught us it's that they can't do it again. You can scope the track over at P4K here.

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