The Queue: The Receiving End of Sirens, Tycho and Microwave

The Queue is a recurring feature in which I discuss some of the music that I’ve been listening to recently. This week I examine an old favorite, an artist’s early release that I’m only now getting into and a slow-burning single. Let’s investigate.

Between the Heart and the Synapse – The Receiving End of Sirens

Man, do I ever love this record. It’s tempting to look back on albums that we used to love and see them as little more than vessels for nostalgia; as our tastes change, we often enough find that some of the music we love is loved only because of what it once meant to us, not what it means to us now. Luckily, I don’t feel that way about Between the Heart and the Synapse which was a life-altering event for me when it was released and which still has the power to claim my stereo for days at a time. The production is wanting but the songwriting here is unparalleled and the lyrics are captivating as ever. It seems unlikely that I’ll ever get a tattoo but if I do, “Somehow, for now, this skin will have to do” is a strong candidate.

Dive – Tycho

My introduction to Tycho came through 2014’s breakthrough Awake, which I loved. But after only modestly enjoying 2016’s Epoch, I never went back farther into Scott Hanson’s dreamy, electronic catalog. Until recently. And what a waste that turns out to have been as Dive is a wonderful, soothing record. Even if the album is essentially a proto-Awake, it remains a worthwhile listen if only for the entrancing array of percussive sounds that Hanson utilizes. With all its gentle, astral charms, Dive has become the soundtrack to my early mornings with my son and it’s hard to offer higher praise than that.

Keeping Up – Microwave

Somehow I missed Keeping Up when it was released as a two-song single back in September but now that I’ve heard it, I can’t stop listening to it. Opening with an entertaining cover of “Georgia on My Mind”, the heart of the single is its title track, a languid rumination on the hazards of being in a touring band. Vocalist Nathan Hardy barely raises his voice above a whisper on “Keeping Up” and the result is a track that sounds appropriately exhausted, broken and resigned. An attentive listener will hear the low-key tragedy of life on the road as Hardy laments the inevitable disconnect between an itinerant band life and the stationary world his music forces him to leave behind. That the career he’s chosen is physically degenerative as well as socially stifling only makes matter worse. At last, the band walks away from this somber subject in the only way that makes sense: with a simmering, emotive guitar solo. If Hardy and Microwave have to be on the road, I at least hope they’re playing this song every night.

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