Song of the Day: Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Vessel

photo by Norman Wong

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 “Vessel” by Dan Mangan + Blacksmith from the 2015 album Club Meds on Arts & Crafts.

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Vessel (MP3)

Gradually expanding his songwriting to encompass more than his voice and guitar, Vancouver, British Columbia’s Dan Mangan has spent the last decade establishing himself as one of Canada’s most affecting and incisive songwriters and performers. Mangan’s recorded his first songs as a student at the University of British Columbia, resulting in 2005’s independently-financed Postcards & Daydreaming. Heavy touring behind that album and 2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice led to Mangan having a sizable following in his home country and a steady touring presence overseas. 2011’s Oh Fortune expanded his arrangements to more consistently include a full band and earned Mangan a Juno award and a Polaris Music Prize longlist nomination. Club Meds, Mangan’s fourth LP (due January 13), is the first to credit Blacksmith – John Walsh, Gordon Grdina, Kenton Loewen, and often JP Carter, Jesse Zubot and Tyson Naylor – as his backing band. Taking a cue from his newly minted bandmates (although Mangan has played with all of them to different degrees for many years) and the recent birth of his child, Club Meds underscores the progress Mangan has made as a lyricist and songwriter since his acoustic-based days. Fatherhood looms heavy over “Vessel”, a pounding anthem that draws equally from atmosphere and force. Over a programmed percussion loop and foggy synthesized tones, Mangan’s processed vocals wander over a heavy Grohl-esque rhythm before calling in Grohl himself for an extra push on a call and response chorus that captures the heaviness of fatherhood with a single vivid lyric: “it takes a village to raise a fool”. “Vessel” is one of Mangan’s most singular and intriguing songs to date, but ultimately, it feels less like an addition to an already-existing canon and more like the exciting start of a new band.

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith are currently on tour and just played in Seattle earlier this month and will embark on a Canadian tour in February, culminating with a two-night stand at Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on March 13th and 14th. But don’t fret: Before that, they’ll be coming back to perform LIVE on KEXP on Monday, January 5, 2015, 1:00 PM. Get more info for those shows here, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook, and watch the official video for “Vessel” below.

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