Single Premiere: Cal Churchill Captures Rich & Familiar Textures on "Lean on Your Shoulder"

Today we have the pleasure of sharing the first look at the Brooklyn-based musician Cal Churchill's new single "Lean on Your Shoulder," a reflective and explorative scope to the fuzzy experimentation on his upcoming album Sports!

Photo by Mars Ballantyne

Following last year's Inwood to Rockaway, an album dedicated to his late mother, The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Cal Churchill enriches confessional and vivid storytelling with power pop bliss and big hooks on his new track "Lean on Your Shoulder," the first single to his forthcoming self-released and seventh full-length album Sports!, out later this year. The new single even comes with a spiraling B-side cover of the Smiths' timeless classic "How Soon Is Now?"


Hailing from Massachusetts, but now based in Brooklyn, Churchill also plays a role in Rochester's underground scene, fronting the garage rock duo Antilock with his close friend and musical collaborator Cameron Czadzeck. However, over the past few years, Churchill has been deepening the layers to his DIY solo project, while polishing his sound.


The new single "Lean on Your Shoulder" is another personal and well-written track that delves into a territory that's in the vein of Car Seat Headrest, Bleachers and Born in the U.S.A.-era Bruce Springsteen. While chained with an arena rock aesthetic, the near-four minute track is a queer love song with lyrics that wear its heart firmly on its sleeve. According to Churchill, he wrote it in ten minutes as a thank you to his partner for their unending support after what was really tough year for him.

"I really hope someone screams along to this in the car with their partner, or listens to it on a train and pretends they're in a music video," Churchill said via email. "I just wanted to make something that gets across the joy I feel when I'm with my partner, and I hope that it can bring a smile to someone's face when they're having tough times, like The Boss' 'No Surrender' or Bleachers' 'Rollercoaster' does for me."

The new single is also accompanied with an intensely rousing cover of the Smiths' hypnotic "How Soon Is Now?" While Churchill isn't a fan of Morrissey's abhorrent political views, he says the song holds a special place in his heart.


"'How Soon Is Now' was one of the songs my parents would always play when they were cooking, so it always makes me think of them," Churchill said. "When I realized the record was going to sound different than my older stuff, I decided I wanted the B-sides for the singles to be a cover of a band that influenced me, but in a different musical style."


While not exactly an ode to the classic Huey Lewis and the News album, Churchill's forthcoming record Sports! is a wide-ranging collection of songs that lyrically focus on embracing joy and holding on to those we love in the face of unbelievable loss, while still accepting that the same loss will continue to have an impact even as time goes on.


"Sports! was written and recorded during the process of making peace with the death of my mother from cancer last year, which my last album was written in a more sudden response to that," Churchill said.


Churchill also says the upcoming album is a musical left-turn for him with more electronics paired with blissful melodies and a wispy psychedelic production style that's inspired by artists like Glass Animals, the Voidz and local musician Boy Jr. Churchill plans to release a few more singles and one-off tracks ahead of the release and expects the new album to drop between November and December of this year.