Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Man and Man’s Ruin” by Cult of Youth from the 2012 album Love Will Prevail on Sacred Bones.
Formed in 2008, Sean Ragon’s post-industrial folk project Cult of Youth may not have been created to be a counterpoint to the current explosion of folk-indebted bands, but in 2012, the band’s message rings truer than ever. Although Ragon’s intensely personal (and perhaps radical) lyrics are often relatively buried in his music’s mix, the echo of his deep voice rings with an impassioned delivery that is only amplified by his bandmates’ furious instrumentation. Fueled by Ragon’s unstoppable growl and drummer Glenn Maryansky’s propulsive beat, “Man and Man’s Ruin” is a direct cut of Ragon and company’s neo-folk gospel. Ragon’s industrial-indebted instincts help him build the instrumental arrangements on top of each other in a mechanical manner, adding stabbing violins and vaguely-Eastern ambience in to add to the song’s brooding crawl, but as the crescendo comes to a peak, the song’s tone is more triumphant than gloomy, and Ragon’s muscular snarl of “it’s the nature of man” turns into a victory cry that celebrates his triumph over the personal and societal demons that he uses Cult of Youth to strike out against.
Cult of Youth are finishing up their US fall tour this month, and although they made a stop at Barboza late last month, it’s possible that they’ll be back on the road before long. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Tumblr. Watch the video for “Man and Man’s Ruin”, directed by Kristian Emdal, Loke Rahbek and Elias Bender-Rønnenfelt, below.