Oh I like this. Thao Nguyen and her group Thao & The Get Down Stay Down are back with a new song called “Temple” and it’s superb! “Temple” is the title track off the band’s forthcoming LP currently due out mid May.
About the new album, Nguyen, of Vietnamese heritage, said to DIY Mag:
I have divided myself into so many selves. I am nervous, but hopeful that in belonging to myself, I can still belong to my family, and my Vietnamese community, especially the elders.
I believe that shame has made my work more general, when I’ve always wanted to be specific. This record is about me finally being specific. If you listen to my music, I want you to know who you are dealing with.
Dig into “Temple” a few times. Give it a few spins. You’ll hear what she’s talking about. Here’s their video for the song:
Nguyen notes that her mother’s experience as a refugee shaped both the song and its accompanying video for OXFAM:
In 2015, our band went to Vietnam, and I brought my mom. I had never been and she hadn’t been back in over 40 years. She worked for the South Vietnamese (officially the Republic of Vietnam) government in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and fled the region a few days before the fall of Saigon. While we were in Vietnam, she addressed the war, something that is out of character for her.
“You have to learn for yourself what freedom is, why millions of people would risk their lives for it,” she said. She’s never offered much about her experience of war, and I’ve never wanted to push. Her few words that evening reverberated enough to compel me to write “Temple.”
I recommend checking out the post on OXFAM for more from Nguyen about her mother’s influence in “Temple” as it’s both touching and inspirational.
With her new song, Temple becomes one of our more anticipated releases of 2020.
A Look Back at Thao’s Career Thus Far
Thao formed The Get Down Stay Down with some college friends a few years after her debut release in 2005. It was then the band signed to Kill Rock Stars and released We Brave Bee Stings and All.
That was when I first came across her music, shortly before snapping the photo at the top of this post at Bumbershoot 2008 in Seattle.
I was immediately drawn to the opening track, “Beat (Health, Live, and Fire” due to its catchy, punchy lyrics and rhythm.
The band returned in 2009 with Know Better Learn Faster. After that, it took four years for us to get a follow up, 2013’s We The Common, and another three for 2016’s A Man Alive.
Here’s “Astonished Man” off A Man Alive:
Thao Nguyen Collaborations
Thao has collaborated with several other artists, from Joanna Newsom and Andrew Bird to the Portland Cello Project and Mirah.
High on my Want List is her collab with Mirah, simply dubbed Thao + Mirah from 2011. It found the duo playing instruments they don’t normally play while also trading off on song lead. Some find Thao on vocals, others Mirah. Yet critics praised the album for its cohesiveness.
Here’s the Mirah-fronted “Little Cup”…
Temple Coming May 15, 2020
Temple is scheduled to be released May 15, 2020, and you can pre-order it as a bundle on pink wax over at Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s website. Snag yourself a copy before the world ends.