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Bon Iver's S. Carey Makes A Radiant Return With 'Brassy Sun'

S. Carey's new single, "Brassy Sun," is out now.
Cameron Wittig
Courtesy of the artist
S. Carey's new single, "Brassy Sun," is out now.

A drummer, backup singer and key contributor to Bon Iver, Sean Carey is also a reliably powerful solo performer: Recording under the name S. Carey, he flourishes in spare but radiant arrangements that showcase his command of dreamy drama. Where Bon Iver's records can boom orchestrally or crackle with experimentation, Carey's stuff is less showy in its beauty — and less enigmatic in its poetry — but still enormously warm and graceful.

Carey hasn't released a full-length solo album since 2014's Range of Light, and that won't change until sometime next year. But he does have a gorgeous new single, "Brassy Sun," which he'd originally recorded for the Netflix TV series Flaked. Though Flaked is a Will Arnett comedy, "Brassy Sun" provides the perfect soundtrack for a moment of melancholy reflection — a piano-flecked meditation on regret, alienation and that most loaded of self-examining questions, "Where have I been?"

"Will [Arnett] and the others behind Flaked tasked me with writing a new song for the first season of the show," Carey writes via email. "That went well, so they approached me again for Season 2. I had this year-old song idea laying around; I just needed an excuse to finish and record it. I felt that the song naturally fit well with the themes of the show, and particularly the placement in the episode it ended up in — down and out, sunset on the beach. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered in a single day at April Base in Wisconsin with help from producers Zach Hanson and Chris Messina — names you'll recognize from Bon Iver's 22, A Million."

"Brassy Sun" is out Thursday as a digital single via Jagjaguwar.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)