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First Watch: Dams Of The West, 'Tell The Truth'

Chris Tomson in a scene from his music video for Death Wish. (Courtesy of the artist.)closemore
Chris Tomson in a scene from his music video for Death Wish. (Courtesy of the artist.)

Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson's first solo record, Youngish American — produced by The Black Keys' Patrick Carney — will be out early next year. Adopting the name Dams of the West, Tomson has picked up the guitar for the project; in fact, he plays all of the instruments on the record. His voice is lackadaisical and familiar, and his sound leans toward garage rock, distancing him from Vampire Weekend's measured, complex sound.

"Tell The Truth" is the second single Tomson's shared from Youngish American, after "Death Wish." "'Tell The Truth,' to me, is a song about objectivity and/or the "blame America first" phenomenon," he tells NPR in an email. "When I wrote the song, I believed that facts, at some future endpoint, would conquer all.

"But then last week the guy at my bodega told me we are now 'living in a post-truth world' while looking at his Samsung Galaxy Stardust 8GB and selling me a sleeve of honey-roasted peanuts, so perhaps I was mistaken," Tomson says. "Either way, the tune's got a good beat and you can skank to it."

Tomson explores that "post-truth world" in the video for the song. "This video was inspired by the oppressive sense of paranoia that has come to define [2016] for me," he says. "I am fascinated by the way the most trivial bits of footage can be used as definitive proof that, say, a certain televangelist is a shape-shifting reptilian overlord or Hillary [Clinton] ... has a malignant brain tumor." The video's flashing iconographic images and shaky camera work depict sensationalism and give it vibrancy.

The video also focuses on tight shots of Tomson's hands and mouth as he licks his lips and repeats hand gestures, the clip of his mannerisms replaying relentlessly. Tomson said, "While I'm not yet a political figure, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to see what a closer examination of my own actions might reveal. The results, as you can see, are provocative, yet not entirely unexpected."

Youngish American is due out Feb. 24, 2017.

Copyright NPR 2016.

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