Friends, I loved growing up as my urban roommates describes “in the middle of the woods” in Northern Massachusetts. Not everyone can say the same about their place of birth however. This lead single from the renowned indie rock band’s debut album “Oh, Inverted World” concerns lead singer/guitarist James Mercer’s experiences growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. New Slang speaks towards the Albuquerque music scene which Mercer found to be a “macho, really heavy, and aggressive” punk rock scene that he had trouble relating to, thus finding himself depressed and disconnected from friends. Regardless, it ended up being the band’s springboard to success, as New Slang was actually the main selling point in what got the group signed by Sub Pop records back in 2001.
Though unexpected, especially given it was at a music festival, this was one of the best songs I have ever heard live. While surrounded by upbeat, fast-paced songs from groups like Matt & Kim, St. Lucia, and Of Monsters and Men, one of the softest songs of the entire festival caught the crowd by surprise with its ability to calm and sooth. The way James Mercer controlled the crowd down to a hush and then brought everyone back up to a crowd-wide singalong was magical and almost cult-like, powerfully emphasizing the great power that music has on the masses.