Song of the Day: Brandi Carlile - Mainstream Kid

Local Music, Song of the Day
04/03/2015
Jacob Webb
Photo by David McClister

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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. Every Friday, we feature a song by a Northwestern artist. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Mainstream Kid" by Seattle's Brandi Carlile from the 2015 album The Firewatcher's Daughter on ATO Records.

Brandi Carlile - Mainstream Kid (MP3)

Drawing from modern interpretations of American folk, country, and rock styles, Brandi Carlile is one of the most distinct and heartfelt songwriters to emerge from the Pacific Northwest in the last decade. Born in the small town of Ravensdale, Washington, Carlile was interested in music from an early age, performing locally from age 8. Dropping out of high school to focus full time on music, Carlile moved to Seattle and began performing her songs on the local circuit, eventually joining forces with Tim and Phil Hanseroth to form a musical partnership that has lasted to the present. Since the mid-2000s, Carlile has released five studio albums, including her latest, The Firewatcher's Daughter.

The first release since Carlile's marriage to her wife and the birth of her first child, The Firewatcher's Daughter is as strong as anything else in Carlile's catalog, spanning acoustic ballads, ragged country rock, and an earnest cover of The Avett Brothers' "Murder In The City". Over ten years into her career, "Mainstream Kid" is perhaps the hardest-edged track Carlile has ever laid to tape. Trading whispered timbre and acoustic picking for shouted swagger and blazing twin electric guitars, Carlile winds up and down the mentality of a young adult caught in a homogenized society. But instead of being a whiny, adolescent lament (like so many songs about this topic), her rant takes the form of a spitfire barroom brawler, thrilling and relentless like nothing else in her catalog. It's no secret that, when she needs to, Carlile can tap into the fire in her belly and push out absolutely stunning, building leveling performances, but on "Mainstream Kid" she takes that fire in a new direction, and it's absolutely exhilarating to try and keep up.

Brandi and her band will be LIVE on KEXP and Streaming Video on Wednesday, April 8, at 9:30AM She played Seattle earlier this year, so she doesn't have any announced Pacific Northwestern shows at the moment, but it's not unlikely that she'll be back before long, so keep up with Brandi on her Facebook and website. Below, watch the video for the Firewatcher's Daughter track "The Eye".

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