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 song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Tan Lines” by Futurebirds from the 2013 album Baba Yaga on Fat Possum.
Hailing from the South’s most indie-centric city, Futurebirds’ blend of alt-country and indie rock is distinctly Southern, but never derivative of the legendary acts that paved the way for them in their hometown of Athens, Georgia. Formed in 2008 by six local musicians, the group quickly made a name for themselves locally, becoming frequent performers at the same venues that R.E.M. and Neutral Milk Hotel played during their formative years. After recording and releasing their 2010 debut album Hampton’s Lullaby, tours with Heartless Bastards, Drive-By Truckers, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals sharpened their live set, which helped keep them on the road while they sporadically recorded their second LP, this year’s Baba Yaga, which further showcased the band’s penchant for echoing folk melodies and loose, jam-friendly rhythms. Easing up on the whiskey-driven fury that drives their wildest moments, “Tan Lines” is a laid-back, reverb-drenched crawl that would surely make Skydog proud. After spending half of the song feeling out a groove as singer Carter King leads the band in two harmonious choruses, the group steps back from the mics and pushes their guitars all over each other, resulting in a shimmering chaos that floats across the song’s melody. Like Phosphorescent’s similarly triumphant Muchacho, the general sentiment of “Tan Lines” is slightly melancholy, but when buoyed by the interplay of five musicians who have played for years with each other, their Southern charisma keeps the song a celebration instead of a dirge.
Futurebirds are on tour all over America this summer, and they’ll stop in Seattle next week at Barboza with Diarrhea Planet on July 10th. They’ll performing LIVE on KEXP that same day at 1PM. Get tickets and info about their 21+ show here, keep up with them at their website and Facebook, and watch the band play an earlier version of “Tan Lines” in 2011 now: