Song of the Day: New Age Healers - He Took a Bullet to Heaven

Song of the Day, The Midday Show w/ Cheryl Waters
09/15/2017
Geran Landen

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 DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “He Took a Bullet to Heaven” by New Age Healers from the 2017 self-released album Where The Tragic Happens.

New Age Healers - He Took a Bullet to Heaven (MP3)

In their own words, New Age Healers is the "brainchild of Seattle-based, Brooklyn-stewed, Minneapolis-bred multi-instrumentalist Owen Murphy" who also advertises that his group has a Seattle and a Minneapolis line up. Regardless of which line up is backing Murphy, it is certainly his input that steals the show, both in his dark and brooding voice and his moody style of psych-shoegaze. It may surprise some to hear that New Age Healers' calm but aphotic tone evolved from Murphy's first musical ventures screaming in post-punk and noise bands. But the venom in New Age Healers' vocals and the shadow-filled soundscapes they conjure certainly offer ties to post-punk and its noisier relatives. The more restrained vocals certainly fit Murphy, and are all over New Age Healers' sophomore album Where the Tragic Happens. The album, released earlier this year, is a masterpiece of balance. The instrumentation is loud but clean, the writing is chaotic in its meticulous structure, and most importantly Murphy's vocals are menacing but restrained. The result is versatile shoegaze that seems to get better with each listen.

On album opener and Song of the Day "He Took a Bullet to Heaven", heavy power chords create a swift current of rhythmic strumming that echo behind Murphy's sing-talking verses. The arrival of the chorus, paired with subtle key changes ensure that the repetitious nature of the song is a strength and not a weakness. Murphy's repeated statement of "some of your friends are going to die young" is delivered with neither solace or exuberance. Instead, it is simply uttered as a fact, making the message all the more haunting. It is with this intentional simplicity and attention to detail that Murphy is able to say so much with his music. And while some of the topic matter is certainly grave and dark, the way in which New Age Healers delivers it is always a pleasure.

You can catch the Seattle line up of New Age Healers tonight in Seattle at LoFi. You can get more information on that show here. Make sure to keep up with the band through their Facebook and Bandcamp. And check out a promo video the band made that uses today's Song of the Day below:

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