MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Bird Streets’ “Machine”

Bird Streets’ John Brodeur has become a master at the art of collaboration. Aided by producer/multi-instrumentalist Jason Falkner (Brendan Benson, Beck, St. Vincent), John Brodeur (quirky singer/songwriter) became John Brodeur (critically acclaimed power-pop auteur) on 2018’s Bird Streets. That recognition, in turn, led to the sort of cultish industry cachet needed to expand Bird Streets’ circle of friends for Lagoon, due November 4 on Sparkle Plenty/Deko.

“I’m still a little knocked out when I look at the list,” says Brodeur. “How are all these people on my record?”

That list includes Michael Lockwood (Fiona Apple), Ed Harcourt, Zach Jones (Sting), Oscar Albis Rodriguez (A Great Big World) and Aimee Mann. Brodeur was already friendly with Superdrag’s John Davis and Big Star’s Jody Stephens. Both lend their talents to “Machine,” which was recorded at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios. Aside from Davis on guitar and pedal steel and Stephens on drums, Wilco’s Pat Sansone contributes bass, keyboards, percussion and backing vocals. Sansone also produced six of Lagoon’s 12 tracks.

“The director Rachel Lichtman (Programme 4) connected me with Pat,” says Brodeur. “We talked, and a month later we were in Nashville recording. The songs he did are the heart of the record.”

Brodeur was struggling through a divorce when “Machine” was written, and its lyrics are uncomfortably personal at times: “Even though you’re gone, I feel you everywhere/This is not a victory, more like an everlasting sigh/I’m reliving history with a machine of my design,” Brodeur sings.

“It’s a song about seeing ghosts, basically—being haunted by someone who’s not around anymore,” says Brodeur. “It grew out of the song ‘Ambulance,’ which is also on the record. I heard this thing in my head based on those two chords in ‘Ambulance,’ and I wanted to tie them together. I kind of wrote it in my head. It was amazing how it fell out.”

We are proud to premiere “Machine” today at MAGNET

—Hobart Rowland