Why Haven’t I Heard This Yet?!
A music column by MK Burnell
Concept: A biweekly music review column highlighting a song, album or artist - not necessarily new, but new-to-you. I’ll give a brief overview of the artist/the context of the song, discuss how I came across the featured music, try to figure out how I missed it when it was new (if applicable) and offer suggestions for other songs readers might enjoy if this one appeals.
#1 - 7/29/19
Leland Sundries - Pray Through Gritted Teeth EP
Hi, and welcome to Why Haven’t I Heard This Yet?!, an exploration of musical offerings from slightly off the beaten path. My name is MK and I’ll be your trail guide!
So, let’s get started! For our inaugural column, I’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic new EP from a band with whom I’ve been familiar for a few years. The band is called Leland Sundries, and the EP is called Pray Through Gritted Teeth.
Music link - "https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/7ojX4USzVxY6QsLZtVIRr5"
Leland Sundries is primarily the project of Nick Loss-Eaton, who started the band in Brooklyn in the early 2000s. Their first full-length album, Music for Outcasts, dropped in 2016, featuring the charming single “Apocalypse Love Song.”
Pray Through Gritted Teeth takes the Americana moments found scattered throughout Outcasts and runs with them. It embraces twang unironically, while never taking itself too seriously. Loss-Eaton’s sleepy, careless vocal style is one of my favorite staples of the Leland Sundries sound, and it works equally as well on bar-room-country numbers like “If You’re Gonna Drive, I’m Gonna Drink” as it does on the wistful, sepia-toned “Ballad of Wiley Post & Will Rogers.”
The centerpiece of the EP, however, is the gorgeous “Song for the Girl With The Replacements Tattoo” (Loss-Eaton isn’t afraid of a wordy title, and I respect him for it).
Now remember that I’m a music director for an independent radio station: I hear A LOT of music. My inbox is flooded daily with fifty to a hundred messages promoting a song, an album, an artist, a show; I devote hours per week to weeding through those emails and through music news outlets and streaming platforms, Listening To New Music. I bring this up so you’ll understand the context when I say that I honestly think “Replacements Tattoo” is one of the best songs written this decade.
That is of course an extremely subjective opinion, but listen to the song and tell me it doesn’t move you.
With those opening notes heralding the incredibly catchy riff that anchors the song, “Replacements Tattoo” announces that you’re about to go on an emotional journey. It then launches into the first verse, with evocative lyrics about the end of a volatile relationship (You can follow me to Memphis if you won’t follow me down/you told me once in your rusted Tercel that you’d die in this town) set against a chord progression that teeters constantly on the edge of devastation before sweeping lushly into the anthemic, major-key-with-a-twist chorus, from which the EP’s title is drawn: I pray through gritted teeth/except about you. It’s a chorus that captures nostalgia, regret, forgiveness, and that little hope that that person is doing okay, wherever they are, even if they never talk to you again.
Anyway, that’s what I get from it, and it’s been in heavy rotation in
my headphones the last couple weeks.
If you like what you heard, please support the band by catching them next time they’re in your area, and sharing and streaming their music!
I’m the Music Director at Radio Woodstock 100.1 WDST in the Hudson Valley, NY, so a solid chunk of my day-to-day is spent listening to and discovering music and I just really, really like music and enjoy helping lesser-known artists reach a wider audience.