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Bartees Strange channels jangly indie and post-hardcore on new single Heavy Heart

Bartees Strange
(Image credit: FilmMagic / Getty)

Bartees Strange has unveiled a new single, Heavy Heart, his first release on new label 4AD. 

The Washington, DC songwriter’s latest effort is a slow-burning guitar-led track that is reminiscent of the early jangle of UK indie veterans Bloc Party and the post-hardcore heroes of his hometown.

As ever with Strange, it’s not that straightforward, and as the track builds there are nods to hip-hop, woozy dream pop and what feels like a fairly math-y outro solo from guitarist Graham Richman.

Heavy Heart already feels like a big step up from the scratchy punk sound (one among many, admittedly) of his 2020 debut album, LiveForever and its standout hit, Boomer.

“That one was an adventure,” Strange told Guitar World last year. “I was really intimidated by that song when I finished it. I didn’t think anyone would like Boomer, because it does so many things. But to me it made sense and felt great. I’ve always wanted to hear a song like that.”

The release of Heavy Heart has also coincided with the announcement of a new home for Strange’s music as he signs to UK indie 4AD, a label that has a long and proud history of diverting guitar bands, running from Cocteau Twins, to The National and Big Thief.

“I’ve signed to my dream label,” says Strange in a post on Instagram. “I never thought that shit would happen. Everybody who knows me knows how much I’ve dreamed about working with this team. Many of my favorite artists did their best work there and I’m so excited that I’ll have the same chance.”

In the same post, Strange reveals a little more about Heavy Heart’s origins.

“When my last album came out we slid up to Maine to write new music...” continues Strange. ”I’d never felt more naked. On day one with my friends this song ran out of me. During that month I’d experienced a huge life change. Music full-time, a record that was heard, but so many people around me were suffering and celebrating the wins I was having was hard. I felt heavy and so visible during that time. This song was my celebration in a very weird, wonderful, dark time.”

Keep an eye on BarteesStrange.com (opens in new tab) to see what happens next.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.