Danger Mouse (real name Brian Burton) and singer-songwriter Sam Cohen teamed to create the expansive Resistance Radio project, a pseudo-soundtrack to Amazon's dystopian alt-history series, Man in the High Castle. Beck, Norah Jones, the Shins, Sharon Van Etten, Karen O, Angel Olsen, Grandaddy, Kelis, MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Booker all contributed to the all-star project, covering songs from the early 1960s, during which the show is set. The 18-track album is out April 7th via Burton's 30th Century Records label.
Van Etten's opening track, a cover of swooning Skeeter Davis ballad "The End of the World," is available to stream above. The singer harmonizes with herself over the period-flavored waltz, filled with lush strings and reverb-coated slide guitar. Burton gushed over Van Etten's performance in an interview with NPR, saying, "When I heard that vocal of hers on that track is when I knew the potential of this. She could have been a big vocalist in the Sixties easily. If this is the style of music she wants to sing, she can do it."
The LP, officially titled Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album, ties into the show's storyline, which is set 17 years after the Allied Powers lost World War II – with Eastern America ruled by the Greater Nazi Reich and the West by the Japanese Pacific States. Resistance Radio is named after the a pirate radio network featured in Season Two – and while none of the songs feature in the actual series, the project envisions a playlist that could appear on the station.
Burton told NPR he was originally hesitant about compiling the project, but he gained confidence – and creative momentum – after connecting with Cohen. "We had to do the whole thing in a month, which was insane," he said. "This is the way people used to record stuff. You get really great players and you just knock it out. So we went in, and it sounded great."
The producer said he "wanted to steer [the project] toward the darker side" of that era's music, connecting to the show's brooding subject matter. Naturally, the first person he contacted was James Mercer, Shins mastermind and Burton's collaborator in Broken Bells.
"I sent him 'A Taste of Honey,' and he sent it back two days later," he said. "He was in Portland working on Shins stuff and he took time out and did his own interpretation of it. It sounds like James in certain places, but most people I played it for don't know it's James, which happens on a lot of these songs. The way he interpreted just changes his vocals."
On March 6th, Amazon will launch ResistanceRadio.com, featuring music from the soundtrack accompanied by original storytelling. Burton and Cohen will unite March 14th to host a Resistance Radio event at Austin, Texas' Belmont Hotel during SXSW; Cohen, Booker, Kelis, Grandaddy, Kevin Morby and more will perform their own songs alongside material from the soundtrack.
Resistance Radio is available to pre-order.
Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album Track List
1. Sharon Van Etten - "The End of the World"
2. Andrew VanWyngarden - "Nature Boy"
3. Beck - "Can't Help Falling In Love"
4. Benjamin Booker - "Spoonful"
5. Sam Cohen - "The House of the Rising Sun"
6. The Shins - "A Taste of Honey"
7. Angel Olsen - "Who's Sorry Now"
8. Waterstrider - "Speaking of Happiness"
9. Michael Kiwanuka - "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child"
10. Grandaddy - "Love Hurts"
11. Big Search - "Lonely Mound of Clay"
12. Kevin Morby - "I Only Have Eyes For You"
13. Kelis - "Who's Lovin' You"
14. Norah Jones - "Unchained Melody"
15. Curtis Harding - "Lead Me On"
16. Maybird - "All Alone Am I"
17. Karen O - "Living In A Trance"
18. Sam Cohen - "Get Happy"