FIRST LISTEN: Flamingo Shadow
In his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier, author, journalist, and critic George Orwell quipped: “We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine-gun.” It was a warning, essentially, that technology, no matter how much it makes life easier, also has an uncanny ability to strip away the essence of the human experience in ways that are difficult to detect before the consequences are irreversible. It’s a sentiment that Flamingo Shadow singer Madeline Adams Matysiak brings to a fine point in “Taxi,” the fourth single from Flamingo Shadow’s debut full-length, Earth Music, out Aug. 21 via Irrelevant Music.
The video, scripted by Adams and shot and directed by guitarist David Matysiak during a road trip to California, is a rumination on the arc of the automobile industry, and how youth and freedom on the open road are forever linked. Scenes from James Dean’s death site in Cholame, CA, juxtaposed with lyrics such as “I’ve come to fear these machines, once navigator I don’t know where they take me,” say an awful lot about the loss of independence in the face of automation. The adventure playing out in these scenes will be a thing of the past as self-driving cars establish more of a presence in day-to-day life. But “Taxi,” with its vibrant musical tones and tropical post-punk bounce, is all about living in the moment, rather than lamenting what’s being taken away.
“The song is a realization of living in a moment before this great AI fall out,” says Adams. “When I lived in Athens, nobody had GPS. I knew how to get around based on my knowledge of the streets. I have since moved to Atlanta and I have no idea where I’m going. I depend on technology to get to where I'm going. The next step is the car driving itself, and you’re not even looking out the window any more. You’re looking at your phone, so it’s about that last breath of humans still having control.”
Earth Music illustrates a colorful propulsive movement that drives Flamingo Shadow’s music. Adams and Matysiak along with keyboard player and vocalist Katie Robertson, bass player Mason Brown, and drummer Devin Brown have created an album that's flowing with sophisticated and psychedelic pop that tussles with an underlying sense of paranoia. Earth Music is steeped in themes of traveling, moving forward, and perpetual motion. Whether the group is running to something or running away isn't important. It's all about enjoying the journey.
Flamingo Shadow celebrates the Earth Music album release party at 529 on Sat., Aug. 25. $8-$10. 9 p.m. With Karaoke (album release party), Rose Hotel, and the Irrelevant Music DJs. 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769. www.529atlanta.com.