Editor’s Note: Welcome to Quarantainment, Vanyaland’s new series on what to watch, what to hear, and how to deal as the world engages in social distancing to combat the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19. We’re all at home, we’re all online, and we’re all in this together. #StayTheFHome
On Thursday afternoon, Johnny Jewel’s electronic-pop project Chromatics posted a teaser visual on its social media pages, promising something new to hit at midnight on the East Coast. It led to immediate speculation that the long-awaited Dear Tommy album — perhaps the Chinese Democracy of electronic-pop — would finally see the light of day after six long years of speculation and intrigue.
As it turns out, Dear Tommy did not surface, but we did receive a new song from the mysterious LP — and its track listing. The new composition is a stirring schoolhouse rebellion anthem called “Teacher,” and it hits Spotify with four versions and a visual on the YouTube page of his label, Italians Do It Better.
“The apple obscured in fog is enigmatic & open to the interpretation of the viewer,” Jewel writes in the video’s description. “Are we sinking into the unknown or rising from beyond the grave? An apple a day keeps the doctor away & music is the medicine. Our teachers transfer knowledge of good & evil. From the fairytale of Snow White’s endless sleep to the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, exposure is the agent of change.”
He continues: “Music is a language communicated by the artist but ultimately defined by the listener’s own exposure to sound throughout their life time. I can’t change my past, but I can choose to break the cycle & not pass the poison apple I was fed to my daughter.”
Jewels signs the note with “Goodbye teacher. School’s out forever.”
Jewel and his various projects have been quite active in 2020. We’ve already received two Chromatics tracks this year in “Toy” and “Famous Monsters,” which will not be included on Dear Tommy, and a new album from Desire has been promised for the summer. Jewel also remixed Angel Olsen’s “All Mirrors” last week, and has introduced new signings to his IDIB label.
Last year, Chromatics released the excellent Closer To Grey LP, and toured North America with Desire and In Mirrors (see our full photo gallery below). But it’s the elusive Dear Tommy record, first introduced in 2014 with several teases along the way, that has captured attention of admirers. Maybe we’ll get it by year’s end.