Origins is a recurring new music feature that sees an artist digging into the history of influences for their latest single.
Shakey Graves has dug up plenty of loyal fans with his Americana sounds since first coming onto the scene in 2011. He’s become known for his one-man-band approach to performing, a bass drum and tambourine at his feet as he strums out folk tunes on his six-string. On his forthcoming new record, Can’t Wake Up, however, he’s chosen to take things in a decidedly bigger direction.
Due May 4th on Dualtone, Can’t Wake Up is what Graves mastermind Alejandro Rose-Garcia calls his most “intentionally worked on project” to date. The Americana strains are very much still there, but they’ve now been woven around lush indie compositions. New single “Mansion Door” in particular is Rose-Garcia’s “love song to mid-late 90s indie bands,” he tells Consequence of Sound. The nods to Heatmiser and Built to Spill are evident in the song’s journey from the comfortable nighttime mosey of the verses to the ringing, layered vocals of the finale.
Take a listen below.
For more on the type of indie sounds Shakey Graves was looking for on “Mansion Door”, he’s broken down the Origins of the track below.
Built to Spill — “Car”:
Nobody does quiet/loud as well as Built to Spill as far as I’m concerned. “Car” is clean, crunchy, loud, twinkly, with darkness and teenage cliche thrown in for good measure, I tried my best to stuff all of these qualities into “Mansion Door”.
The Breeders — “Oh!”:
The original demo of mansion door was just a bass melody with lazy drums behind it. It had a head bobbing laziness to it that I thought was so important to keep in tact for the final version. I always loved how almost show-stoppingly slow “Oh!” is; it seems like an engine running out of gas, but the pace gives it a tough sound at the same time.
Pinback — “Tripoli”:
I love the clean string quality that a lot of great indie songs had in the late ’90s. The double vocals of Pinback always really affected me, this song also makes my head bob up and down constantly, all of this was important to keep in mind during recording. I struggled with the base tempo of “Mansion Door” a lot and was thrilled to finally at the right head bob.
The Evens — “Cut from the Cloth”:
Shocker, Ian McKaye is amazing at talking shit about the man and the problems of society. I wouldn’t say thats exactly what “Mansion Door” is about, but it is a story that takes place on the West Coast and when I talk about the lonely star I am not talking about a constellation, I’m talking about a person, and hoping they can escape the gravity of their own success. Even when The Evens get dark there is always a sense of hope in their songs, like we all might be able to get out some day.
Heatmiser — “Christian Brothers”:
Elliott Smith’s self-titled is maybe my favorite album of all time, and I’ve loved the exceptionally stressful song “Christian Brothers” for so long. But the o.g. Heatmiser version has the right amount of musical grunge that makes Eliott’s voice really stick out. I wanted a two person vocal double effect throughout “Mansion Door”. Rayland Baxter (who co-wrote all the lyrics) and I would talk about whether or not to do it the whole time, and I kept thinking back to the vocals of Elliott, and pushing forward.