New Pornographers’ A. C. Newman on the Cars’ Ric Ocasek

When news of Ric Ocasek’s death broke earlier this month, the range of artists who grieved publicly—Beck, Ice T, Nile Rodgers—showed the wide influence the Cars achieved as one of the most popular new-wave bands ever. One of the sharpest and most apt tributes came from A. C. Newman of the Canadian indie-rock band the New Pornographers. “I don’t even need to listen to the first Cars album, just press play in my brain,” he tweeted. “It’s cued up.” Another thought: “The deep in the pocket minimalist groove combined with the maximalist wall of vocals, that is my favorite part of the Cars’ magic.” The specificity of his appreciations wasn’t surprising. With their intricate but immediate rock that features bright keyboards and cliché-tweaking lyrics, the New Pornographers are one of the proudest descendants of the Cars working today. By phone, Newman selected some of his favorite songs from Ocasek’s catalog to dissect. His band’s eighth studio album, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights—which coincidentally features an automotive theme throughout, just as many Cars songs did—comes out Friday. This conversation has been edited. A. C. Newman: When I was 10 years old, what I wanted for Chri...

The New Pornographers Get Biblical on New Single “One Kind of Solomon”

The New Pornographers will release their eighth studio album In The Morse Code of Brake Lights later this month. After a pair of recent singles—”Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile” and “The Surprise Knock“—the band is back with another single from the album. “One Kind of Solomon” is a chaotic, arena-rock number, with heavy drums immediately reminiscent of bands like U2 and Arcade Fire. Soon enough, shimmering guitars and keyboards peak through a wall-of-sound mix mostly composed of multi-tracked drums and vocals. “In terms of keyboards, this record has such a Kathryn Calder stamp,” vocalist A.C. Newman shared in a statement. “There was a point where she started playing this part on ‘Solomon’ and I feel like it just changed the record. When I heard what she did with it, I said, ‘Do this on every song.’” In The Morse Code of Brake Lights follows the band’s 2017 album Whiteout Conditions, which included the excellent singles “High Ticket Attractions” and “This Is the World of Theatre.” In June, the band announced a 14-date fall tour that kicks off this month in Woodstock, NY, with dates in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and othe...