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Joe Bermudez and Dana McKeon “Tug Of War”

Often as gentle as the instrumentation that accompanies them, there’s no denying the brilliance of the vocals that Dana McKeon inserts between the simple grooves in the new single from Joe Bermudez, “Tug Of War.” Some collaborations don’t need elaborate lyricism to communicate an ocean of emotion to us, and that’s precisely what makes this new single under the Bermudez moniker such an interesting release this season. If you haven’t heard “Hurricanes and Butterflies” yet, I would highly recommend giving it a spin this October if for no other reason than to learn what all the critical fuss has been for. 

There’s not a lot of percussive presence in this mix, but that doesn’t stop the groove the drums create from feeling especially magical. The chorus gets all of its color from the rhythm, and though there’s a lot to be said about the vocal harmony that keeps its fiery verses ablaze, it wouldn’t be quite as effective had it not been paired with a seductive beat. Bermudez is no stranger to the intricacies that come with making a master arrangement, and if any critics questioned his skillset before this, I think they’ll be singing a different tune in 2022. 

I enjoy the bass tones in this track, and to some extent, I think they beef up the muscularity of the melody tremendously. In light pop content like this, tonal expressiveness can make all the difference in the world – particularly when you’re trying to develop a hybrid sound, such as Bermudez and McKeon are here. He’s using the EQ the same way that a guitarist would a six-string; every weapon in the studio is at his disposal, and he’s doing a fine job of spreading the love between them in “Tug of War.” 

As much as I like this single, it makes me want to see Joe Bermudez and Dana McKeon together in concert sometime. There’s so much heat between them, so much unrestrained passion, that I can’t imagine their performance on stage being anything other than incredible from top to bottom. They’ve got time to consider different options, but based solely on the chemistry they’ve got in this song, I think they would be foolish to dismiss the idea of working together again (and soon). Covers or originals, I think they would attract a big audience no matter what they decided to record together. 

Pop fans who need something fresh and untethered to commercial interests this October need to make a point of checking out “Tug Of War” immediately. You don’t have to be the biggest underground buff to appreciate the dexterous, neo-alternative pop sensibilities presented to us here, but for those who do follow the indie beat, Joe Bermudez and Dana McKeon’s most recent release is a must-listen for sure. Both the former and the latter have got the right idea at this stage of the game, and if I were either of them, I wouldn’t stop running with it until I found the credible success I’d been fighting for my whole career. 

Mindy McCall



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