Rock outfit Art Sorority For Girls is responsible for one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard from a D.C. artist this year: the subtly poetic earworm “Man With a Van,” songwriter Daoud Tyler-Ameen’s story of leaving his hometown, told from the bitter perspective of a jilted New York City.
Now Tyler-Ameen has unveiled “Dead Man,” another track that bodes well for his band’s forthcoming album, Older Boys. It doesn’t bang out a hook as gluey as “Man With a Van,” but this one might linger past its runtime for a different reason: It’s heavy stuff.
Passionately delivered heavy stuff, at that—in the raw, bleeding spirit of D.C.’s Rites of Spring, but with the aggressive acoustic strumming of the emo that followed. Tyler-Ameen (who works at NPR) describes it as “more gestural” than anything he’s written before.
“The lyrics are pretty oblique; there aren’t many punchlines. And it’s a rough thing, made to be shouted,” the musician writes in an email. “In rehearsals we could only play it once per session; the drum part [Joshua Gottesman] came up with was so physically shredding that his hands and arms would swell and ache for minutes afterwards. When we recorded the vocal, our engineer, Thomas Orgren, turned off all the lights in the live room, which I think helped coax the throat-scraping finale out of me.”
It may be wise to listen to the song in the dark, too—“Dead Man” could easily tempt out a few tears. “This song definitely comes out of the anxiety and doubt by which many young people feel assailed when their role models let them down, especially when said role model is one’s own father,” he writes. (Art Sorority for Girls’ 2011 song “My Father” touched on a similar issue.)
The tune bears so much emotional intensity, it was enough to worry Tyler-Ameen’s pals. “When I first started performing it, a couple of friends and even my own drummer asked for backstory, their voices and faces carrying a hint of ‘Are you OK?'”
Art Sorority For Girls’ LP Older Boys comes out Oct. 1. The band plays D.C. on Oct. 19. Venue to be announced.