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Standout Track: No. 7, “Arms and Legs,” an infectious power-pop nugget from Sun Machines’ debut album, Human Subjects. With its restless drumming and bright, jangly guitars, the track could pass for something off Wilco’s Summerteeth. “Arms and legs/Wrapped around my foolish head,” sings J. Forté with playful self-deprecation in the vein of Jeff Tweedy. But unlike Wilco’s songs, which almost always read like snapshots from Tweedy’s life, “Arms and Legs” is an exercise in vague, witty wordplay that reminds us of how much we suck at communication.
Musical Motivation: “Arms and Legs” focuses on the way lovers struggle to articulate how they’re feeling and what they want from each other over time—a concept that bends ironic, since the words seem to handily pour out of Forté’s mouth from the get-go. “I typically write the music first,” he says. “Then I come up with melodic ideas by singing nonsense lyrics, and a lot of the time the nonsense sticks because I like the way the words sound.”
PC Music: Though Sun Machines is a collaboration between Forté, who lives in Columbia Heights, and his Silver Spring–based partner Gregory Gendron, the two of them were never in the same room together during Human Subjects’ recording. Instead, they sent digital files to each other and laid down instrument parts on their own time. “We got lazy and starting putting tracks on Dropbox and recording along with them,” says Forté, who has yet to play live with Gendron under the Sun Machines moniker. “We’d start with a guitar track, [Gregory] would put down his drums to it, and I’d record my stuff over those drums. It takes a lot of time, but you have more time to think about your parts.”
Stream “Arms and Legs” after the jump.