Song of the Day: Shearwater - Quiet Americans

Song of the Day
02/18/2016
Gerrit Feenstra
photo by Sarah Cass

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 DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song comes from indie rock stalwarts Shearwater. "Quiet Americans" is the seriously groovy lead single from their new album Jet Plane and Oxbow, out now on Sub Pop.

Shearwater - Quiet Americans (MP3)

Jet Plane and Oxbow puts Jonathan Meiburg nine albums deep into Shearwater material. Alone, this would be a feat. But couple it with his work writing, studying falcons, Okkervil River, and his time spent with other bands including Okkervil River, and it's truly astounding that his latest record sounds so vibrant and gripping. The new record is a protest record of sorts, wrestling with the status quo over the course of eleven ferocious tracks. As his first record of original material since 2012 Sub Pop debut, Animal Joy, (in the middle he released Fellow Travelers an album of covers of bands he toured with), Jet Plane feels like the perfect follow, ripe with brilliant color and still in possession of the animal fire that has guided Shearwater for years.

"Quiet Americans" is a head-turner from the outset. Led by a solitary synthesizer, Meiburg dips heavily into new wave throughout the verse before the hook pulls the listener into a busy house of sounds coming from all directions. The coldness of the verse seizes power into a heart-felt groove led by piano and warm guitar, as the lyrics turn from western-world fear-mongering to human reconciliation. It's quite appropriate how sharply the tune turns from Carpenter-esque 80s dystopia to arms around the world. It's this strong emotional dichotomy that continues to lead the record forward, exploring the human psyche and how we engage with change and disagreement. "Quiet Americans" is a great introduction to Jet Plane and Oxbow and one of Meiburg's strongest pop singles to date.

Grab "Quiet Americans" above and watch the music video below! Stream the rest of Shearwater's new album Jet Plane and Oxbow here, and grab it at your local record store on CD or vinyl. Shearwater will tour in support of the new record, and you can catch them at the Crocodile on March 25! Grab tickets here.

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