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Song of the Week: Montreal Psych Rockers TEKE::TEKE Unleash Playful Mayhem on the Wild “Barbara”

Lucy Dacus, Uwade, and Islands all release songs we can't wait to hear in person

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TEKE::TEKE, photo by Andy Jon
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Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Montreal psych rockers TEKE::TEKE unleash a prankish spirit on an unsuspecting town in the wild, raucous “Barbara”.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

No matter how low infection rates have dropped in some (not all) states or how many vaccinations have been jabbed into people’s arms, that seems to be the mantra that health officials are sticking to: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s sound advice — backed by the type of science and data that saves lives — but it’s caution that’s becoming more and more difficult to abide by now that the weather has broken, summer’s calling, and, most temptingly, our favorite artists are beginning to announce their first tour dates, in most cases, in well over a year. Luckily, those artists — including Consequence favorites like Julien Baker, Waxahatchee with Katy Kirby, and Lucy Dacus, not to mention huge reunions by headliners like My Chemical Romance and Rage Against the Machine — have announced or rescheduled dates for fall or even early 2022.

In other words, they’re forcing us to not get ahead of ourselves … for at least a little while longer.

But now that we can begin to see that proverbial light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and tour dates start to populate artist websites again, it’s increasingly difficult to not imagine new releases, like TEKE::TEKE’s “Barbara”, blaring from the sound system of a sweaty club or drifting a few hundred yards from a festival stage, luring the curious who happen to catch a faint listen. If you were lucky enough to catch our Protect Live Music livestream, which benefited NIVA, you saw just how wild these seven Montreal psych rockers are when given a candid audience. They are a kinetic onslaught of lights, sounds (from guitars to flutes), fashion (from hoodies to kimonos), and theater that almost defies description and most definitely demands attention.

Our own Ben Kaye recently sat down with the band for our popular Origins series to find out where exactly “Barbara” came from. As it turns out, the germ of the idea came from an odd case of mistaken identity at a subway station, where the band’s rhythm guitarist, Hidetaka Yoneyama, encountered an older man come up to him calling out: “Barbara, Barbara, is it you? Barbara, it’s you, isn’t it?…Barbara!…” That might be enough inspiration for a quirky rock song in and of itself, but vocalist/visual artist Maya Kuroki then had the idea of combining the anecdote with Japanese folklore. Hence, the song about an odd run-in became about what might happen should the Zashiki-Warashi — an impish, childlike spirit who pranks people — be loosed on the town.

As Kaye writes, “To soundtrack this playful mayhem, the band whips up a fitting carnival of punk sounds. As trombones march down the streets, flutes spin the Zashiki-Warashi into a frenzy of scarred pigeons and wasabi toothpaste. It’s a wild ride with a call-and-response chorus and the band’s unparalleled energy in all its surf-psych glory.”

And it’s too good — too wild, too intense, too everything — not to be seen on a stage soon. And therein lies the rub. We’re getting ahead of ourselves again. We’re purchasing tickets, making plans, and pretending it’s a normal summer and fall and even 2022 fast approaching. But can you blame us? With surf guitars, call-and-responses, and pesky spirit pranksters awaiting us, it’s hard not to get at least a little ahead of ourselves.

Stay safe.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director


Honorable Mention

Conway the Machine – “Scatter Brain” (feat. Ludacris and J.I.D)

Conway the Machine dropped his latest project, La Maquina, on Friday. As a preview, he shared a new song, “Scatter Brain” featuring J.I.D and Ludacris. The posse cut is produced by Don Cannon and is built around a sample of children singing. It finds Conway opening with lines about making money in the streets despite not finding commercial success. J.I.D follows up with some gun talk, rapping lines like, “I got no resistance with a Colt .45/ Gold edition, I’m a dope magician/ N-ggas disappearin’ if I hear ’em dissin’.” Ludacris continues the theme while dropping references to Creed II and Rick James. –Eddie Fu

Islands – “Set the Fairlight”

Last month, Islands announced that they were returning with their first album in five years, Islomania, later in June. They already shared the album’s dancey lead single, “(We Like To) Do It with the Lights On”, and now the indie-rock band led by Nick Thorburn have shared another song from the record called “Set the Fairlight”. Whereas that previous track had a knowingly goofy club-pop demeanor, “Set the Fairlight” feels a little less winkingly chaotic. It still has a motorik pulse to it that would be best-served in a giddy crowd of concertgoers, but its chipper sound recalls late-aughts bands like Surfer Blood and Wolf Parade more than straight-up disco acts. “This was the last song made for the album, written and recorded during the pandemic,” Thorburn said in a statement. “I suppose it’s vaguely about the feeling of anxiety and fear brought on by COVID. There’s separation (by a cemetery wall – grim!), isolation and the desire to reach out and touch someone.” –Eli Enis

Lucy Dacus – “Hot & Heavy”

Lucy Dacus has announced her new album, Home Video, out June 25th on Matador. Following the early single “Thumbs”, which we subsequently named our Song of the Week, Dacus has let loose a song called “Hot & Heavy” as a second preview of the album. Addressing self-growth, it is accompanied by a self-directed video shot in Richmond’s historic Byrd Theatre. Over guitar-driven instrumentation evoking the nostalgia of fondly remembering childhood, Dacus compares her current and past selves. “You used to be so sweet,” she sings. “Now you’re a firecracker on a crowded street/ Couldn’t look away even if I wanted/ Try to walk away but I come back to the start.” –Eddie Fu

Uwade – “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow”

Nigerian-American folk singer Uwade released a stunning new song this week, “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow”, alongside a cover of Edo singer Sir Victor Uwaifo’s “Lodarore”. “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow” is a stirring ode dedicated to her late father, Dr. James I. Akhere, and features heartbreaking lyrics delivered in Uwade’s warm, rich tone. “If time is all we have,” she sings. “I promise not to waste it/ And everything you are/ I know I can’t replace/ But I’ll see you on the other side.”

“When I lost my father in August of 2020 I was devastated. Grief was like lead in my blood,” Uwade recalled in a statement. “It made everything grey and dull and meaningless. It made life feel too long.” She added, “My dad is a part of me in a very real way and ‘The Man Who Sees Tomorrow’ is my ode to him; my promise to continue to cherish him, even in death.” –Eddie Fu

Wu-Lu – “Times”

South London multi-instrumentalist and producer Wu-Lu, aka Miles Romans-Hopcraft, has unveiled a simmering new song titled “Times”. Wu-Lu self-produced the track, which features drumming by Morgan Simpson of black midi. It quietly rages beneath the surface like turn-of-the-century alternative rock, but never reaches the thrashing crescendo of his previous single, “South”. As he explained in a press statement, the song is about self-discovery and coming of age in these turbulent times. He said, “It’s of understanding that with time comes wisdom. Living life teaches us everything we can to bounce back, we are made of more than what society wants to tell us. The world weighs heavy on all of our shoulders in different ways. It’s important that we look out for each other in times of growth.” –Eddie Fu

Top Songs Playlist

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