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Stereo Embers’ TRACK OF THE DAY: Tuff Sunshine’s “Thank The Pilot/Suicide By Papercuts”

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Video by Stephanie Sleeper

Our Track of the Day today comes from the New York band Tuff Sunshine.

On their new single, the indie rock outfit continues to demonstrate the kind of peerless lyrical dexterity and scruffy pop smarts that make them one of the most fascinating and listenable bands around.

On “Thank The Pilot/Suicide By Papercuts,” singer/songwriter Johnny Leitera’s penchant for poetic phrasing is on full display–Leitera has an almost preternatural gift not only for clicking words together but knowing the full range of their sonic elasticity.

The “Thank The Pilot” portion of the track is a jaunty and acoustic meditation on the great gift of having someone you love returned safely home after a journey in a plane. It’s an obvious sentiment to thank the pilot in these situations, but obvious as it may be, very few of us think to do it. A tidy little hymn that could be tucked anywhere on the Beach Boys’ Wild Honey, “Thank The Pilot” is spare and emotionally precise.

Later, the “Suicide By Papercuts” segment is filled with swirling electronica and an understated loopy beat which brings to mind the early ’90s work of Wheat. Leitera is in fine form, his breathy delivery confessing: “I took my catchy little numbers and I bundled them up/ Suicide by papercuts, but in the end it wasn’t enough.”

Of the track, Leitera tells SEM: “‘Suicide by Papercuts’ was a drop-D acoustic demo I had laying around for a few years, but it never felt ripe enough to pick. Then I wondered what it would be like with an electronic beat behind it, and I liked that feel–acoustic but with a Casio-style kind of rhythm. I had dreamt the title “Thank the Pilot” (much like I did with “Elevator Eyes”– another single from this record) and it ended up being a little connector-type thing more than a fully realized song– everything I wanted to say was there, in a few sentences. So in the tradition of “No Sugar Tonight/Mother Nature” or “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” I wanted to connect them into one song separated by a forward slash. I like the juxtaposition of the two tracks and I love punctuation in song titles.”

Tuff Sunshine will be playing doing several dates in the UK, playing shows with The Split Squad and Chris Stamey, Oct 25-29.

Wed Oct 25 : Bristol @ Golden Lion
Thur Oct 26 : London @ Biddle Bros
Saturday Oct 28  : Birmingham @ Rock and Roll Brewhouse
Sunday Oct 29th : Oxted @ Hurst Green Community Centre (with Chris Stamey and The Split Squad)