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Each week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson brings Here & Now a new song to liven up our playlists.
This week he introduces us to the Portland, Oregon, band Typhoon through the song, “Young Fathers.”
The song is jumps from whispered parts to sections where lyrics are shouted over horn sections.
Kyle Morton, who leads the band, had a hard childhood — and that comes through in his music, Thompson says.
“[He] spent basically his entire childhood battling grave illness,” he said. “He contracted Lyme disease as a kid, and the complications meant he had to have a kidney transplant, and took him through several organ failures. He essentially had no childhood, and was forced to confront his mortality at a very early age. That comes through in lyrics that are dark and thoughtful, but are still surrounded by real beauty and grace.”
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
As he does just about every week, NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson is here to recommend a new song for us. And, Stephen, the music is interesting to my ears. Those pauses really got my attention. What am I listening to?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Well, it's this very big band called Typhoon. And, yeah, that song just grabs you right from the beginning. It jolts you. You think, almost, it's by accident. But there's this huge and complex sound coming from more than a dozen members. But the music is also very personal. It's not your typical big brass band, where the songs just take off in a straight line and get louder and louder. There's a huge personal story behind the band leader Kyle Morton. But Typhoon still makes this gorgeous, grabby music. Let's hear a little bit of "Young Fathers."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUNG FATHERS")
KYLE MORTON: (Singing) It's even better now that you're older. I read the (unintelligible) on the front page. It says we're waiting around for an ice age. It says our comforts, they come with a price tag. They cured the cancer, but discovered a new plague. They say just think of the children, and imagine the world that we've willed them. It's populated with weirdoes to kill them and break their hearts. And everybody knows this is the end.
THOMPSON: So, the song moves through all these different phases. And the quiet parts are very tender and beautiful and performed very delicately, at a whisper. But then there are these big, booming, sweeping, majestic pieces all in the same song. And the juxtaposition, to me, is very powerful. There's a lot packed into just this one song with, along the way, a lot of observations about the legacies we leave behind and the world that we create for our children.
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah. I have to say, I like the complexity that I'm hearing in the music. And you said that the singer has a huge, dark, personal story. Tell me more.
THOMPSON: All right. Kyle Morton, who leads this huge band, spent basically his entire childhood battling a grave illness. He contracted Lyme disease as a kid, and the complications meant he had to have a kidney transplant. And it took him through several organ failures. He essentially had no childhood. He was sick the entire time, and was forced to confront his mortality at a very early age. And that comes through, I think, in lyrics that are dark and thoughtful, but they're still surrounded by real beauty and grace.
CHAKRABARTI: That's "Young Fathers," by the band Typhoon, off their album called "White Lighter." It comes out on Tuesday. NPR music writer and editor, Stephen Thompson, thanks so much.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Meghna.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUNG FATHERS")
MORTON: (Singing) Get bored every day. Young people, young people get bored.
CHAKRABARTI: OK, Jeremy. So what do you think?
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
I like it. It's upbeat. I can't get past those pauses, though, that you talked about.
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah. We're trying to think that those are mistakes, but they're not.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, from NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Meghna Chakrabarti.
HOBSON: I'm Jeremy Hobson. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.