Standout Track: No. 2, “Shape Up,” Canine Teeth’s brief, dark exploration of a romantic relationship at a turning point. A twinge of insanity is audible in the first half of the song, which fits spoken-sung vocals into echoes of Massive Attack’s brooding trip-hop template. The second leg erupts into distortion, frying R&B-flavored lines like “I’m trying to understand you/Trying to be a man, too.”
Musical Motivation: Canine Teeth is D.C. producer and DRKArts label head and founder Erik Anderson, who brought in two D.C.-based guest vocalists for most of the work on Leviathan, Canine Teeth’s debut EP: newcomer Dominic Robinson and Brandon Moses of Laughing Man. Robinson had deep input on his songs, Anderson says, while “Shape Up” was essentially a complete backing track when Moses—better known as an indie-rock singer—came into the studio. “Just knowing who Brandon is, I think a big part of it was trying to catch some inspiration or some sort of magic in the moment,” Anderson says. “When he showed up, I gave him my iPod with headphones and just let him listen to it a few times, and we kind of recorded it on the spot right there.”
Not the Industry Standard: Though the music already had a thumbs-up from DRKArts co-founder Miguel “Micah Vellian” Lacsamana before any vocals were recorded, Anderson says he wanted to “personally connect with whoever was singing on the track.” As for the results? “There were some ideas of lengthening it and maybe adding another verse,” he says, “but it seemed kind of punk rock to just leave it at two minutes, you know?”
Listen to “Shape Up” after the jump.
Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this post identified Miguel Lacsamana as the DRKArts label head. It has been updated to show that Erik Anderson is the label’s head and founder, and Lacsamana is a co-founder.