Conversation, Track Review

Conversation: St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”

The following is a conversation between friends and about music. It’s a different format than the traditional review, and I chose it because these conversations are how we discover deeper truths about why we connect to a certain sound or lyric. For me, this is a more favorable format to the traditional review, which can be a little too didactic and even bossy (and yet I will still post them to this site). Please keep the conversation going in the comments!

Mike: Didn’t realize until seeing her last weekend — and until I played it three times today — but the title track from strange mercy is fucking cathartic

Hayden: Amen

Cathartic from what?

Mike: “If I ever meet that dirty policeman who roughed you up”

Hayden: Ugh yea I was wondering

Mike: Just the pacing and emphasis on “dirty.” And that it’s a statement and feeling of intense anger that never sees resolution — it’s an incomplete sentence. and so it feels like it’s up to you to complete it and to feel that vindication for her

Hayden: What other song works there

Oh dude fucking grimes


St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”

If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up

No I, I don’t know what

If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up


[Full Lyrics]

Oh little one I know you’ve been tired for a long, long time

And oh little one I ain’t been around for a little while;

But when you see me, wave

Oh little one your Hemingway jawline looks just like his

Our father in exile

For God only knows how many years

But when you see him, wave;

Through double pane

I’ll be with you lost boys

Sneaking out where the shivers won’t find you

Oh little one I’d tell you good news that I don’t believe

If it would help you sleep

Strange mercy

If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up

No I, I don’t know what

If I ever meet the dirty policeman who roughed you up

No I, I don’t know what

I’ll be with you lost boys

Sneaking out where the shivers won’t find you

Live Review

None of these guys looks like a rock star: Pinback + Deathfix @ Bimbo’s 365 – 1.19.2014


Last night, Bimbo’s 365 welcomed back Pinback, who’d played a show at the 82-year-old club almost exactly a year ago. Neither Pinback nor opener Deathfix have the look of rockstars – Armistead Burwell Smith IV of Pinback may be the only exception – but the sounds these men fuse together are as muscular and lithe as could be. They rock.

Deathfix, the best opener I’ve seen in recent memory, have the look of four approaching-middle-age men who sell insurance during the day and come together after work for a sixer and some band practice in the garage. “Dali’s House” was the set’s centerpiece. The song is endlessly self-referential, building the same joke over the same beat for eight-plus minutes and even name-checking the song’s lyrical godfather, James Murphy (“I wish I was James Murphy’s house / Because you could steal ideas and Daft Punk’s always playin’ there”). That song aside, their sound had a 90s alt-rock feel with a groove, encouraging more a swaying of the hips than a head nod.

When Deathfix wrapped up, Rob Crow of Pinback came to the stage, but not to play – only to set up for half an hour. Most rock stars will have their crew tune instruments on stage before the curtain goes up; then, seconds before playing the first note, they’ll appear to a resounding applause that approaches catharsis – a feeling that envelops the star and the crowd for the first few songs.

Crow’s entrance, by contrast, was rather anticlimactic. Crow, who dawned a trucker hat, short-sleeve button-down shirt and shorts with an elastic waist on his burly frame, put together his equipment until it was time to play. He felt almost too human.

But that sensibility gave way about forty-five minutes – and a quarter of a bottle of Jameson – later. Crow stomped and danced as he howled in pitch-perfect form. He did jumping jacks. He did the worm – the worm! And then he climbed off stage, into the crowd and shoved the mic in our faces so we could shout-sing, “Stop, it’s too late / I’m feeling frustrated.” At the song’s end, Crow had returned to the stage, where, with a generous pour, he promptly refilled the plastic cup attached to his mic stand.

Whatever weird energy Crow brought to the stage for “Fortress” persisted for the show’s duration, even if we all knew the theatrics couldn’t get much better from there. “Good to Sea” grooved while “AFK” scorched.