Five Quality Tracks: February 2015

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This was a feature that I used to do for the Daily Californian’s Arts & Entertainment blog. I decided to give it life again here. At the end of each month, I’ll post a feature highlighting five quality tracks released during that month.

1. Alabama Shakes: “Don’t Wanna Fight”

Alabama Shakes surprised everyone with their fully-formed, blues-rock debut Boys & Girls in 2012, gaining popularity on the back of lead single “Hold On.” The band makes their return this year, delighting us with the booming and gritty “Don’t Wanna Fight.” The instrumentation sounds like peak Brothers-era Black Keys, but with the always-impressive yowl of lead singer Brittany Howard.

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Blast From The Past: Death Cab for Cutie – “Summer Skin”

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Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Your favorite band from middle school is coming out with a new, post-Zooey Deschanel album entitled Kintsugi. They played a few of the songs live already and they honestly sound fantastic. A wave of nostalgia caused me to revisit some long-lost Death Cab songs, and in the process, I remembered just how good “Summer Skin” is.

In 2005, Death Cab released Plans, which contained some of the band’s biggest and saddest hits (you’ll of course remember “Soul Meets Body” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”). But my favorite track off that album (and maybe in all of Death Cab’s catalog) is “Summer Skin.” The band’s famously melancholic lyrics may have resonated with me more in 2005, but they still pack a punch: “I don’t recall a single care / Just greenery and humid air / Then Labor Day came and went / And we shed what was left of our summer skin.”

But anyone who knows me, knows that while I appreciate good lyrics, it’s the music that hits me hard. “Summer Skin” has the most underrated, killer bass line I’ve ever heard. Seriously, listen to that bass moving up and down the scale. It’s inspired pages upon pages of bass covers on YouTube (I mean, check out this dude’s fingers — they’re going all over the place). Bassist Nick Harmer is channeling some real Paul McCartney-level melodic bass here. Take a listen: