Song of the Day: LUH - Beneath the Concrete

Song of the Day
06/09/2016
Jim Beckmann
photo by Francesca Allen

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, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Beneath the Concrete” by LUH from the 2016 album Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing on Mute.

LUH - Beneath the Concrete (MP3)

We thought WU LYF was forever. Then, after one fantastic album self-released amid a visual collage of alluringly anarchic propaganda and proclamations of community through artistic liberation, they were gone. Following what was probably the first ever band breakup via YouTube description, some members of the former collective carried on as Los Porcos while bassist Tom McClung recorded as Francis Lung. Most eyes and ears, though, were on Ellery Roberts, the group's raspy, mush-mouthed but unassailably anthemic singer. While he released but one song under his own name - the sample-heavy, politically charged "Kerou's Lament" - the seeds were sown for his next project with visual artist Ebony Hoorn. Together as LUH (meaning Lost Under Heaven, or, alternatively, Love Unites Humanity), Roberts and Hoon have built a new propaganda, amassed of songs, photos, videos and manifestos, retaining some of the anti-establishment and anti-capitalist verbiage of before but now more concerned this time with freedoms of the mind and heart - no doubt informed by their relationship as both romantic and artist partners.

On LUH's debut LP, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing, "Kerou's Lament" has become "Lament", a more focused composition but with a sharper bite. Other songs feature similarly tighter yet still familiar arrangements, as proclamatic as WU LYF ever was, but with more seeming intent - a good part of which should be credited to The Haxan Cloak, the album's producer and sometime Björk collaborator, who allows hopeful rays of light to beam through the atmospheric recording. But the most apparent difference of all is the vocal presence of Hoorn, who backs Roberts on a number of songs and sings lead on one ("Future Blues"). While today's featured song, "Beneath the Concrete", seems by its title to be the album's low-point, it's actually one of its most fist-pumping, feel-good tracks, declaring, "All We Are is People Trying! / All We Are is People Trying to Live! / Trying to Live a Life that Means Something! / Trying to Live a Life that Means Something More!", while beckoning us all to break the walls of the "brave new world" distracting us from what's important, our freedom. Like all of Ellery's songs, it's full of messages on how to live and love, but this time it sounds like he's not just raging at the world - he's in it. Given its richer production, LUH isn't WU LYF P. II, but it's certainly the after-LYF, located, if "under heaven", at least very close to it.

If you're in the States, you'll have to wait for a bit to find LUH. They recently performed a run of shows in Europe, and as of now have only one U.S. date announced, on July 15, with Brooklyn Vegan at Mercury Lounge. Hopefully, more shows will follow. Until then, keep up with LUH on their official website and Facebook page and check out this site for thought-provoking art and song lyrics. For now, here's the official video for "Beneath the Concrete":

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