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Song You Need to Know: Christian Lee Hutson, ‘Northsiders’

L.A. singer-songwriter looks back on adolescence on a Phoebe Bridgers-produced single

Christian Lee Hutson's new single is "Northsiders."

Gus Black

Christian Lee Hutson’s “Northsiders” is about memories that haunt. Hutson, an L.A.-based singer-songwriter who’s currently touring with Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s Better Oblivion Community Center, spends most of the Bridgers-produced song recounting a naive adolescence with nostalgic remove and striking specificity: “We were so pretentious then, didn’t trust the government,” he sings over an acoustic guitar in gentle, double-tracked vocals that recall mid-period Elliott Smith. “Said that we were communists, and thought that we invented it.”

Hutson fills “Northsiders” with similarly everyday scenes from the past: “Morrissey apologists/Amateur psychologists/Serial monogamists.” But after the song’s narrator alludes to tragedy in the penultimate verse, the song snaps into the present tense. After three minutes of aching imagery and vivid detail, Hutson has no grand conclusions to draw, no lessons to learn, about his remembrance of teenage art-school things past. “It’s crazy,” he sings with a tearful shrug, “how things shake out sometimes.”

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