Ross Shapiro, frontman for Athens, Georgia indie rockers the Glands, died from lung cancer in 2016. Now the remaining members of the band — which released a pair of albums between 1996 and 2001 and reunited in 2011 for a tour with Yo La Tengo — are paying tribute to their bandmate. A third, final, and partially posthumous Glands record called Double Coda, comprising 23 songs patched together from 20 years of Shapiro’s unfinished projects, will be released on November 9.
We’ve already heard “So High” and “Electricity” from the salvaged labor of love, and today we premiere the third single, “Every Time I Listen To A Stranger.” It’s diffuse and fuzzy tune, built on rootsy strumming, with light playful keys brightening up the morose tune, whose instrumentation feel like a direct predecessor of Alex G.
It’s got the slack-jawed depressive, impish lyrics of a man contemplating life and solitude, the sort that were so in vogue in the Glands’ heyday: “Throw out the baby with the bath/ You do the math/ You’re a smart one/ You’re a hard nut to crack” or “Give a little kiss and speak in French/ Then the keys felt like sand/ Where are the puppets when you need ‘em… Momma can we keep ‘em?” The song is undeniably nostalgia-inducing, but its melody is irresistible enough to make you not only mourn a long-gone indie moment, and the loss of one of its fairly unsung heroes, but also to add it your playlist to backdrop some morning commute reverie.
The Glands’ Joe Rowe shared some context on the song:
The final mix of “Every Time I Listen to a Stranger” has been hanging out in The Glands world for quite a long time now, years, although my fuzzy memory can’t recall exactly how many years it has been. The song was recorded in 2002-2003.
Like many of Ross’s songs, for most of the time, the band only knew this song as its working title, which I have been told not to divulge due to legal repercussions, seriously. Ross was always tinkering with band recordings in his makeshift home studio, and this song is a prime example of that. He and Andy Baker created a foundational loop using my drums and Ross’s guitar and bass, and then Ross and Doug Stanley added vocals and different piano tracks to finish the song. I’ve always especially loved this song because it is one of the first finished Glands tracks that I heard after our self titled record was released, and I can appreciate it more as a fan because I had very little to do with the creation of the song.
Listen below, and try to guess what that mysterious working title might have been.
UPDATE: A second new Glands song called “Atmosphere” is also out today via Flagpole:
And here’s a video about a new box set bundling all three Glands albums:
The I Can See My House From Here box set and the rest of the reissues are out 11/9 via New West Records. Pre-order them here.