Today’s Song: Ought Import International Confusion with “Disgraced in America”

Ought © Laura Harvey
Ought’s latest single “Disgraced in America” pays tribute to art-rock greats while summarizing American discontent.

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Canadian indie rockers Ought are about to return with their third album, and with the release of the first two singles, it seems to be shaping up to be perhaps the best entry point for the band. Merge is also an excellent label to put these out, as they’re known for putting out artsy indie-rock, and these songs deserve a wider audience than Ought has previously seen. Ought channel their post-punk sound into a less noise-oriented pop-rock number on their most recent single, “Disgraced in America.”

Listen: “Disgraced in America” – Ought


“Disgraced in America” certainly borrows a bit from both The Smiths and The Velvet Underground. Ought manage to channel the art-rock gods of Morissey and Lou Reed. Lead vocalist Tim Darcy sounds like a cross between the two. His deep, authoritative tone is definitely descendant of Reed’s, but when he sings lines like “They built it themselves/and it felt so good” captures the essence of Morissey like a good impression does. The band’s little psychedelic flourishes also add to the overall similarities to The Velvet Underground, and it marks some similarities to fellow Canadian art-rockers Of Montreal. It’s a relatively clean and simple song, despite the lack of standard song structure. It’s easy to latch onto and enjoy, especially Darcy’s vocal performance.

Room Inside the World - Ought

Room Inside the World – Ought

Tim Darcy is a subtly theatrical vocalist. He’s very cool, but he’ll occasionally jump into a moan or a Bowie-like yelp. He’s always been refreshing, because he can jump between styles quickly in the same song like in “Men for Miles,” and he does that when he exaggerates his timbre here. It never sounds out of place, but it does add to the incredibly sarcastic tone of the tune.

There are certainly some political overtones, as the song is called “Disgraced in America,” but they’re hard to distinguish, since the lines are so short. Darcy implies that sarcastic sneer when he sings:

What if I said
They built it themselves
And it feels so good

With the tone, this seems like a jab at Trump, but it’s hard to tell, especially when Darcy re-appropriates the lines for self-empowerment later:

What if I said
I build to myself
And it feels so good

Ought Revel in Ambiguity on “Sun Coming Down”

:: our take ::

The “While the dividends pay” vs. “While I’m picking up change” lines seem to be a reflection of how harshly some people have been affected by the economy. Darcy also makes vague threats towards the end of the track to make interruptions to the system. The lyrics are the most conflicting aspect of the song, because they don’t really say anything, as much as it gives Darcy something catchy to sing. It does seem like that’s what Darcy was going for though. He’s just as confused as us, thus we’re all “Disgraced in America.”

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Room Inside the World - Ought

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Ought © Laura Harvey

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:: Ought UK/EU tour dates ::

Apr 20 | Bristol, UK – The Exchange
Apr 21 | Leeds, UK – Brudenell Social Club
Apr 22 | Glasgow, UK – Stereo
Apr 23 | Birmingham, UK – Hare & Hounds
Apr 24 | London, UK – Garage
Apr 26 | Paris, FR – Maroquinerie
Apr 27 | Nantes, FR – Stereolux
Apr 28 | Bordeaux, FR – Iboat
Apr 30 | Lausanne, CH – Le Romandie
May 01 | Winterthur, CH – Albani
May 02 | Brussels, BE – Botanique
May 03 | Cologne, DE – Bumann & Sohn
May 04 | Berlin, DE – Kantine am Berghain
May 05 | Copenhagen, DK – Loppen
May 07 | Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso Noord
tix & more info @ internetought.com

James is a writer, currently in Human Resources at The New York Times. Besides Atwood, he's contributed to SensationsPress.com and his own blog BurgerADay.com. In his free time, James also writes poetry, performs stand-up comedy, listens to more podcasts than he can keep up with, and can be found floating around shows in New York City's punk scene.