Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: shone

#4 Album of 2013 – Shone – Heat Thing

#4 – SHONE – HEAT THING [spotify]

(feat. track – “Bestial” [spotify])

I wrote a piece earlier this year focusing on album release strategies, which was in part spurred on by the viral campaign behind Heat Thing, the debut album from Brian Lane (Brand New) and Andrew Accardi’s (Robbers) Shone:

“Be Patient. Heatthing.com.” That simple, cryptic tweet, issued from a succession of artist Twitter accounts (including Thrice, Manchester Orchestra, Balance & Composure and Vinnie Caruana) on December 21st, launched the scene into the most frenzied viral marketing campaign in recent memory. Through a series of eerie videos, backmasked sound clips, and even mailed letters, the secret missive was gradually decoded over the next few weeks — Heat Thing was the title for the debut album by a band called Shone, which appeared to include Brand New’s Brian Lane as well as Andrew Accardi, vocalist for Robbers and brother of Brand New guitar-slinger Vin. There’s no question that Shone’s campaign brought a flood of attention that the band would never have garnered otherwise. But as the music finally emerged, it quickly became apparent that Shone sounded nothing like Brand New or their friends-in-virality, and when Heat Thing (the album) didn’t match the high expectations that stemmed from Heat Thing (the marketing campaign), that tide began to turn against the band. At this point, it’s not clear whether the elaborate effort was even a net positive for Shone.

Delivering Just What You Need: Album Release Strategies via PropertyOfZack

What I didn’t discuss is just how freakin’ much I loved this coolly-received art rock concept album, from the first listen. Heat Thing is a wildly creative swirl of an album, as twisted and tortured as its main character, an anonymous man who has been tempted into some awful deeds and now awaits his judgment.

Singer Andrew Accardi’s vocals range from barked chants to perverse muttering, from full-throated bellows to smooth crooning; they befit the frayed psyche of the character he plays. Meanwhile, musically, composer/songwriter Brian Lane and producer Mike Sapone pack the album with surprises – the trip hop-like stutters of opener “Piano Wire Number 12”, the swooning cello that rides below Accardi’s falsetto in “Kin”, the dueling sax and fuzzed-out guitar that solo their way through the formless “Defender 237”, the sea-shanty backing chorus of “Baby Shakes”. The choices all seem artful, purposeful, and better still, they’ve chosen right darn near every time.

Heat Thing is also not as out-and-out bizarre as it’s been made out to be. (I hate to think of what will become of the kids who freaked out over “Baby Shakes” when they finally catch up to the Talking Heads and Oingo Boingo.) It’s creepy, catchy,unpredictable, but most of all, it’s fun – a jazzy, unconventional set that, thanks to some big singalong hooks, doesn’t alienate.

I had the good fortune to see Shone’s (very good) debut live performance in February – a show that sold out not only before the album was released, but before the band members names were even announced. They’ve since been sporadically active. I hope that Lane hasn’t felt too burned by the response to continue exploring rock’s weirder corners. Shone may have done themselves in with their own insurmountable hype, but as I wrote following that night, “I hope I get the chance to shout “earthquake! milkshake!” at least one more time. I suspect the crowd at the Mercury Lounge tonight would agree.”

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2013 Mix

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2013 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2013 Mix

Though I’ve done an annual mix each of the past three years*, this year was the first time I actually compiled an ongoing list of my favorite songs throughout the year. You’d think that would make this process easier; instead, I wound up with a glut of sincere favorites, and a lot of hard choices to make. For some reason, I insist on keeping this thing to a >80 minute playtime, i.e. the length of an actual CD. I’m not under the pretense anyone is actually burning this to a disc (I’m certainly not), but there’s something to be said for this mix being digestible in a single sitting, for it being something I can listen to on repeat and actually get familiar with – I like the way albums ebb and flow and tell stories through sequencing and pacing, and it’s something I’ve always put a lot of care into when making mixes. That gets unwieldy in a lengthy playlist. I enjoy getting to the point where I feel unsettled if I hear a song in my mix and it’s not followed immediately by the track that’s supposed to come next.

As always, I’ve elected to leave off any sort of big radio hits (well…kinda. You’ll see what I mean in a second). That’s a challenge in any year – for a guy who mostly writes about punk and other music of that ilk, I’m really a pop fan at heart. But this year was especially challenging. 2013 was the biggest year in recent memory for Superstar Pop – if you’re a musician people call by just their first name, odds are good you put out an album this year. A lot of those albums were genuinely great, and even when they albums were merely OK, or weren’t particularly pop-radio friendly, each seemed to contain at least one or two killer singles.

Not only that, but two artists who I normally would have found room for here, Fall Out Boy and Paramore, came back in such a big way this year that I couldn’t justify squeezing them in – both “My Songs Know What You DId In The Dark (Light Em Up)” and “Still Into You” found Top 40 radio ubiquity, and nobody’s going to be overlooking those acts just because I didn’t squeeze them onto my list. (Unlike, say, in 2011 when Patrick Stump made it onto my mix with a track from his criminally underappreciated solo album).

Finally, this year’s mix wound up especially upbeat; there’s a lot of bright, synthy, dancey pop that really hit home this year (and some moody, synthy, dancey pop to go with it). There were a number of songs I really loved – Defeater’s “Bastards”; View From An Airplane’s “Stayed Awake”; Sparks The Rescue’s “Ceara Belle”; many others – that just didn’t fit here stylistically, and even more – anything by The 1975, for one – that felt too similar to other tracks on here to make the final cut.

That said I’m really happy with how the final mix came out. Download**, listen, enjoy!

Makeup For The Silence – Best of 2013

  1. Feeling In The Night – The Reign Of Kindo
  2. Paper Royals (Lorde vs M.I.A.) – Mashed Pot8er
  3. In For The Kill – Kelsey Chaos
  4. Waste My Time – Tilian
  5. Dresden – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  6. Baby Shakes – Shone
  7. I’ve Been Waiting For This – Butch Walker
  8. Sad And Blue – Jimmie Deeghan
  9. Keep Me In Your Heart – The Here And Now
  10. Take A Picture – Carly Rae Jepsen
  11. Dreaming – Smallpools
  12. Excalibur – TEAM
  13. Supernatural – roboteyes
  14. Love Is A Dog From Hell – The Limousines
  15. Forget You – Cady Groves
  16. Hanging On A Honeymoon – William Beckett
  17. All I Know – Washed Out
  18. The Way Back – Whitewaits
  19. True Trans Soul Rebel – Against Me!
  20. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms
  21. Etc. – Francis and the Lights

click image to download

Stay tuned; the yearly Top Ten will begin tomorrow!

*you can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence, as well as all the playlists I’ve contributed to elsewhere, right over here.

**just like last year, there’s a Spotify version of 2013’s mix available, but also like last year, there were a handful of tracks on the final mix which aren’t available on the service. I totally understand Spotify’s convenience – after dabbling with it for a couple years, in 2013 I really converted to using it as my primary listening spot, ahead of iTunes – but I recommend downloading if you want the real deal.

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