Song of the Day: John K. Samson - Postdoc Blues

Song of the Day
09/08/2016
Geran Landen
photo by Cory Penner

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Postdoc Blues” by John K. Samson from his forthcoming 2016 album, Winter Wheat, due October 21st on ANTI- Records.

John K. Samson - Postdoc Blues (MP3)Winnipeg band The Weakerthans officially ended their reign as a band in 2015, but the world hadn't been blessed with new music from them since 2007. Luckily leadman John K. Samson never stopped making music and followed his 2012 debut solo album, Provincial, with a live score for The Turnstiles, a choreographiced audio-visual response to Neil Young's 1974 album, On the Beach. Those who couldn't quite quench their Weakerthans thirst with Samson's past two solo endeavors will be pleased to hear that Samson's upcoming sophomore album, Winter Wheat, features two other the Weakerthan members in the form of drummer Jason Tait and bassist Greg Smith. Armed with the Weakerthans' rhythm section, Winter Wheat is certainly closer to a Weakerthans record than Provincial was. But Samson continues to journey away from his punk origins, creating sparse, acoustic driven music for his solo project that holds all the ingenuity of his Weakerthans song writing but delivers it through a softer medium.

It is no surprise then that Samson pulls a trick from The Turnstiles, responding to Neil Young's On the Beach and the theme of addiction on many of the new album's tracks. And while album cut and song of the day "Postdoc Blues", which explores the idea of a student struggling with their faith in the possibility of bettering the earth, is not the most direct response to On the Beach found on the album, it still channels Neil Young to an extent. Samson's unique voice meanders over a jangling guitar and little else giving the always clever lyrics room to breath. While the subject matter is certainly heavy, Samson is one of the few song writers skilled enough to use the word "dongle" in a song and make it sound sincere; and the genuine, clever nature of the lyrics in the face of its less sunny subject matter create an aphotic tone that mirrors the rise of Samsonson's solo career from the demise of The Weakerthans.

Samson has no current U.S. tour dates scheduled, but keep an eye on his Facebook and website for future announcements. In the meantime, check out John K. Samson's acoustic performance of Winter Wheat's title track below:

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