Song of the Day: Japanese Breakfast - Machinist

Song of the Day
06/27/2017
Matthew Howland
photo by Patrick Luhrs

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 "Machinist" by Japanese Breakfast, from their forthcoming Soft Sounds From Another Planet album, due July 14th on Dead Oceans.

Japanese Breakfast - Machinist (MP3)When "Machinist," the first single from Japanese Breakfast's sophomore LP, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, dropped in May, it marked the official release of the show-stopping cyborg love song which closed many Japanese Breakfast sets in 2016. "Machinist" also marked a notable change in songwriting for Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner, the musician newly mixing tropes of science-fiction and 1980s pop to form a musical hybrid. However, the genre experimentation aside, "Machinist" remains an excellent pop song, displaying Zauner's knack for propulsive melodies and tight song structure which has marked her best work.

"Machinist" and Soft Sounds were written in a period of musical escape for Zauner, who used science fiction as a means to dissociate from the trauma of her mother's passing. As a result, Soft Sounds contains undercurrents of loss even as it refuses to be overcome by emotional pain. "Machinist," for instance, describes the narrative of a woman falling in love with a machine, at once frustrated by the gap in communication and language, and lost in infatuation. The listener, like Zauner and her protagonist, is momentarily transported, lost in the rush of sound.

Japanese Breakfast was just in Seattle as part of a tour with (Sandy) Alex G and Cende. The tour continues throughout the US & Canada, with dates in Europe planned for later this fall. For more information, check out their Facebook and Bandcamp. In the meantime, watch their full performance live in the KEXP studio from last September here, and the top notch video for "Machinist," directed by Zauner, below.

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