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The music of major indie player Calvin Johnson isn’t easily defined. Sometimes it swings anti-folk; other times, it’s experimental. “Kiss Me Sweetly,” the most recent single from his forthcoming record A Wonderful Beast, is something along the lines of psychedelic fuzz-rock. So with that non-classification in mind, today (Sept. 21), Johnson is sharing the album’s third single here at Paste, and it’s a marvelous melange of all the aforementioned sounds. Listen to “(I’ve Still Got) Sand in My Shoes” below.
Patrick Carney of The Black Keys produced A Wonderful Beast, and his fiancee Michelle Branch supplies back-up vocals on three songs, including “(I’ve Still Got) Sand in My Shoes.” On the track, Branch’s harmonies soften Johnson’s husky drone, and the result is a splendidly sludgy, synthy take on psych-rock. Thematically, Johnson deeply ponders the rural/urban divide, singing, “Maybe all these highfalutin sophisticates are not all they’re cracked up to be.”
He elaborates on the song’s influences and meaning:
Following up on imagery found in early work by Wanda Jackson and Anthony Perkins of provincial residents colliding with the sophistication of our modern world, ”(I’ve Still Got) Sand in My Shoes” explores how this is not necessarily a bad thing.
A Wonderful Beast, which is out Oct. 12 via K Records, is Johnson’s first solo effort since 2005’s Before the Dream Faded…. In the years since, he released a self-titled album of re-recorded songs with The Sons of the Soil in 2007 and, in 2016, This Party Is Just Getting Started as Selector Dub Narvotic.
Again, you can hear “(I’ve Still Got) Sand in My Shoes” below. For more Calvin Johnson, listen to his 2013 Daytrotter Session further down.