SONG PREMIERE: The Tell (Noah Dickie and James McAlister) Let Go with Airy Dream Pop on “KT”

The Tell is a collaboration between Las Vegas-based musician Noah Dickie, singer/songwriter for indie band Coastwest Unrest, and LA-based composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens, The National, 37d03d), which started out nearly three years ago, under that name — The Tell — a double entendre, that includes the behavior of a poker player (the antithesis of a poker face) and the sonic narrative of the duo’s new album Somewhere Right Now, an aural journey from borderline despair to well-being, using music – and its creation — to try to heal our psychic and physical wounds.

Although conceived before the pandemic, the eight songs on Somewhere Right Now (due out this Friday, June 18th) offer a stylistic departure for Dickie. Rather than beginning life as folk songs on an acoustic guitar, the music took a more experimental bent in his home studio, encompassing outboard gear, electronics and synthesizers, “a different paint brush,” not necessarily knowing if the material would be right for Coastwest. The result combines Dickie’s narrative song craft and folk roots with McAlister’s sprawling, buzzing soundscapes, wrapping the former in a fully realized interior world that inadvertently reflects the pandemic we’ve all faced over the past year. 

Somewhere Right Now takes us on an interior journey of metaphysics and “good” magic.  Contributors include Noah’s brother (and Coastwest partner) Josh Dickie on drums (“Love Blood, California” and “Outgrown”), Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Tyler Chester (Andrew Bird) and Seattle musician/producer/engineer Luke Vander Pol (Deep Sea Diver), playing bass on “Love Blood California” and “Outgrown,” whose Burbank studio is where the basic tracking for the entire album took place as well as two of Dickie’s vocals.  The rest was recorded and engineered by Dickie and McAlister in their home studios.  The finishing touches being put on by Yuuki Matthews (The Shins) who mixed the record and mastering being done by Brian Lucey (Black Keys, Dr. Dog).  

And while Somewhere Right Now was started before the lockdown, one can’t help but feel its effects in the claustrophobic, insular minor key synth-scapes, which evoke much of that isolation and alienation, tinged with hope for better things to come. Songs like “Burning” and the semi-autobiographical “Love Blood, California” offer themes of lust, regret and a deeper layer of adventure, while the jaunty, playful “KT” (“Let’s go to the ocean/And sink in the water”) explores the desire for escape and freedom. “Nothing Missing” suggests we look inward rather than at external objects for our happiness, and the closing “Outgrown” is about shedding one’s skin, moving forward, and ultimately, growth. 

With its multi-layered themes, Somewhere Right Now evokes the awe of the human condition and a shift in perspective to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this world and our place in it. Consider it the perfect antidote for these times, as we stumble out of the darkness into the light at the end of a long tunnel. Somewhere Right Now celebrates the beauty and magic of the creative gesture, a supreme organizing principle in a world threatening to come undone.

Today Glide is excited to offer an exclusive premiere of “KT,” one of the standout tracks on the new album. With an airy indie pop sound brought to life by a simple beat, dreamy synths, acoustic strumming and a drum machine providing the backbone, the song captures the talent of this duo in crafting infectious and thoughtful music. The vocals are basic and ponderous, bordering on spoken word at times as the lyrics beckon us to “go to the ocean/And sink in the water” as if suggesting we let go. 

Noah Dickie of The Tell describes the inspiration behind the song:

“KT” – My head was buzzing and spinning after this recording session. Everything on “KT” we recorded and tracked in one day, except the vocals, which I later did at home. Tyler Chester (Grammy-nominated Andrew Bird multi-instrumentalist) joined us on bass guitar as well. “KT” started with a drum loop I programmed, along with a jazz-like guitar riff. James wanted to turn the whole thing upside down and rebuild it. The song was reconstructed using the same driving drum loop intact to coincide with this swirling, humming atmosphere that we had created using all of the other instrumentation. Finally, “Let’s go to the ocean/And sink in the water”…the refrain that seemed to mesh with this musical expression we’d just unleashed.

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