Song of the Day: Sam Mickens – The Demon Star

photo by Jeff Elstone

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “The Demon Star” by Sam Mickens from the 2014 self-released album Kayfabe: Laamb of G.O.D.

Sam Mickens – The Demon Star (MP3)

Combining an increasingly performance art-influenced streak with a rooting in Bryan Ferry-style glam rock theatricality, Brooklyn’s Sam Mickens has consistently pushed his boundaries to create compellingly singular works. Perhaps best known as the frontman of The Dead Science, the experimental Seattle-based trio that also included Jherek Biscoff, and a sometimes contributor to Parenthetical Girls and Jamie Stewart’s always-fluctuating Xiu Xiu project, Mickens began his solo career in 2011 with the release of Slay & Slake, an ambitious record that covered more stylistic ground with reckless abandon than most bands would ever consider. A year prior, Mickens staged Kayfabe: Game Of Death, a play where he used the concept of professional wresting as a framework to analyze the duality of man. Mickens’ second solo album, Kayfabe: Laamb of G.O.D., is a sort of sequel to Kayfabe: Game of Death” and is, according to Mickens, “the greatest synthesis of my musical interests and desires to date”. The latter statement rings especially true; Kayfabe is more accessible than Mickens’ work with Xiu Xiu or The Dead Science, but the same sense of artful exploration that propels those groups runs through this fifteen-song effort.

Today’s feature, “The Demon Star”, is a glammed-out, admirably melodramatic song that plays like an alternate reality where Stuart Murdoch is a Ziggy Stardust-esque sensationalist rock star rather than a shy Scottish church caretaker. “No inferno’s gonna take may baby”, the song’s opening and rallying lyric is only the first step into a sprawling, fantastical tune that finds Mickens lamenting and describing the astronomical (both literal and metaphorical) weight of the situation his character is in. Mickens’ commitment to creating such an elaborate and colorful story shines through “The Demon Star”, so even if it isn’t performed right in front of the listener, it’s easy to see Mickens’ vision come to life.

Currently, Sam Mickens has a pair of shows in Brooklyn lined up, but he has no West Coast dates listed at the moment. Keep an eye on his Facebook and Bandcamp for any music or tour updates and, below, watch Sam Mickens’ Ecstatic Showband & Revue play “Infernal Affairs” and “Nemesis” live in Brooklyn back in 2009.

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