Heavy Rotation: Blaze McKenzie

May 29, 2018

Every month, NPR Music asks public radio personalities around this country to name a new favorite song and, this month, KOSU featured Oklahoma City musician Blaze McKenzie.

Born A Shadow is the solo debut from Blaze McKenzie, following nearly a decade with Brooklyn indie rockers The Can't Tells. The Berklee College of Music alumnus says he's been criticized in the past for being too earnest, but that tendency came in handy when writing "Think a New Thing." Facing a creative block, McKenzie dipped into what he knows best — his own life. The result has lyrics weaving through a dysfunctional relationship and bouts of drinking, sobriety and relapse. Amid pounding drums and a killer guitar riff, the Oklahoma City native sings about emerging from a period of numbness and the confusion of those early days of sobriety ("But I'm alive now / Am I alive now? / I think that I'm alive now / Yeah, I'm alive now"). A chaotic swirl of sounds and screaming takes hold toward the end of the song, representing the helplessness felt when mistakes seem inevitable. You can call it dread, but it's also a level of self-awareness that some never attain. — Ryan LaCroix, KOSU

Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts' favorite songs. Listen to new music from Blaze McKenzie, Angelique Kidjo, Shannon Shaw and more at NPR.org.