Chad Vangaalen has revealed the details of his new album: it’s called World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener and comes out on March 19 through Sub Pop / Flemish Eye. Even who-knows-how-many albums deep into his career, VanGaalen is still extremely amusing and always finding new ways to show off his musical and multimedia prowess. New single and video “Samurai Sword” show this in spades; the song featuring pipe percussion and the animated video building a whole world. On the song, he says:
“I had just ripped a bunch of old leaking copper pipe out of my basement in a reno job that I jumped into willy nilly. Realizing how magical the pipes sounded, I put them on some dirty styrofoam and banged out the janky beat that introduces the song! Garbage is life.”
He continues, “It just spilled out in a couple minutes. I didn’t try to stop it because I was smiling like I was just cruising through my neighbourhood. Simple like a sandbox. An ode to the simplicity. It’s hard to let things be simple. But simple is easy on the mind, and being jovial in song is something I find really difficult. Why? What?”
VanGaalen has long made forlorn feelings into winsome indie, and “Samurai Sword” is yet another shining example, although this time the subject is truly innocuous – and all the better for it. He’s lost his “Samurai Sword”, which is “only on loan from a friend” but is “simply irreplaceable” – it has a a sting-ray handle, a blade that has been tempered by the blood of the gods and is totally indestructible, you see. Completely quirky, it works perfectly with the luminous bell-tone of the pipe percussion, and the commitment VanGaalen gives to the performance of this hapless someone who’s lost their precious weapon makes it just irresistible.
The video for “Samurai Sword” takes it even further, with VanGaalen saying:
“I was drawing black and white plant backgrounds for this song because of the great old samurai movies of the past. I like how nature sometimes takes the lead. I was getting all knotted in my mind about the sky. I looked at my dad’s watercolor paintings of a sky, and felt like I couldn’t get the feel right. So, I just borrowed his sky for a scene and then I realized that my dad’s paintings were perfect and already full of real life energy. I used them to finish the video and felt like we got to go on this quest together. In my mind. Fuck time.”
Watch “Samurai Sword” below or listen on streaming platforms. But you may want to watch the video – not only because it’s beautiful and brilliant – but because there is a scavenger hunt for Easter eggs in it, with prizes for some lucky people who spot them. Full details here.