XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Blue Rose” by Amen Dunes

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Amen Dunes | Photo by Michael Schmelling

Amen Dunes is the musical project of New York-based Damon McMahon, who released its debut album in 2006. His most recent album, Freedom, is the project’s fourth release, and it took McMahon three years to make.

In an interview with Spin, McMahon had this to say about the album’s broad-ranging style.

Freedom is like a mix of rock music, pop music, and electronic music. Michael Jackson was a big influence. People like Tom Petty, like early Oasis, like late Nirvana, unplugged Nirvana, that kind of rock music. And then things like Aphex Twin, Massive Attack, those kinds of mainstream electronic music. Mainstream music was what I was interested in—really, really good mainstream music.

To make Freedom, McMahon worked with Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums and Jordi Wheeler on keyboard and guitar. Chris Coady (Beach House) come on as producer and Delicate Steve played guitars. Most of the songs were recorded at Electric Lady in New York, and finished at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) worked on the recordings.

Freedom earned the highly coveted badge of “Best New Music” from Pitchfork. “One of the thrills of Freedom” writes Sam Sadowsky for Pitchfork, “is how McMahon rewires classic-rock tropes to feel new and entirely suited to his own music. It’s a quality that brings to mind the War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel, whose project also reflects the sound of old FM radio through a gauzy, idiosyncratic filter.”

“Blue Rose” has a pensive vibe and a nonchalant, steady and infectious groove. It’s a highly personal song, about his relationship with his father, that’s a sneaky and burrowing earworm.

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