The closest analog we could think of while enjoying the new album from Beecher’s Fault, The Easiest Drug To Sell, was Talking Heads. Immediately, the mechanized groove of the opening track, “Moneymouth,” mirrors that of the Heads’ classic “Once In A Lifetime.” The rest of the song and album (at seven songs and just over 26 minutes, it’s technically an EP) is wholly original, but Beecher’s Fault’s meshing of electronic and precisely processed sounds with natural instrumentation, warm lead vocals and tight male-female harmonies (from vocalists Ben Taylor and Lauren Hunt) follows a blueprint created by that seminal NYC art rock band. The Easiest Drug To Sell feels carefully sequenced to invite in the listener, from that somewhat clinical intro through a flat-out rocking and gospel-tinged closer, “Life In This Light” (and doesn’t that title also just evoke the Talking Heads?), which we wrote about when it was released last summer. The lyrics match this flow, beginning with the despairing “Moneymouth” to that final song’s grand zen-like acceptance, via some ebb and flow anxiety and uncertainty on tracks like “Last Disaster.” You can hear the entire record at the Soundcloud link at the bottom:
Three prominent members of our artist community here at OurStage are featured in the new Spike Lee series She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix. Soulful R&B singer Shawndrell, winner of multiple chart awards on OurStage, had her song “Save Yourself” added to episodes five and six of the new show, which is a reimagining of Lee’s groundbreaking 1986 film of the same name.
Multi-talented New York artist Brittany Campbell, who plays the character Black Diamond in three episodes of the new comedy series, is featured on the soundtrack as well, with her 2016 single “Buzz” (watch her great video for the song, below).
Lee also selected Nikki Lynette‘s “My Mind Ain’t Right,” after personally inspiring and encouraging the singer and songwriter to begin a new phase in her creative life. When we spoke to her back in September, Lynette told us, “Spike is the ultimate storyteller, and he is always super excited about everything he is working on. Being around him made me feel like maybe I could be passionate about music again if I just told a story that would be bigger than me, the way Spike does.” (Read our full interview here.)
Singer and songwriter Luke James Shaffer, routinely found at the top of our ‘Best of the Best’ charts, has dropped a new video cover of “Silence,” originally a collaboration between EDM producer Marshmello and soul singer Khalid. Shaffer pares back the song to its core, and then builds his own robust arrangement, in a single live take, creating a series of loops of his own percussion and backing vocals. In doing so, he emphasizes the quality of the lyrics and melody that are the backbone of the sleeper hit. Watch:
Every month, the OurStage community (that’s you) listens and ranks the songs competing on OurStage.com. Once those songs get to the Finals stage, five grand prize winners are selected. Those winners get featured on the ‘OurStage on Amazing Radio’ show, broadcast to hundreds of thousands of music fans around the world. Last month’s show is streaming now. Below are the top five that you’ll hear on this month’s show, along with other favorites from the charts.
Hot on the heels of her single “Thunderstorm” comes phase one of Nikki Lynette’s ambitious new project, Happy Songs About Unhappy Things. The three-part release will be a multi-media exploration of the artist’s own struggle with identity and depression. Part one, released this week, is called Manic Pixie Dream Girl, after the familiar archetype defined first by film critic Nathan Rabin, who described a “bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life…” More broadly, she’s a character allowed no agency or nuance and, in fiction, represents a troublingly idealized male vision of femininity in the real world. Lynette talked to us about this trope, her own journey as an artist and woman, and of course her amazing music.
OurStage: This is part one of a three-part project, so it is understandably a bit shorter than a standard album release. Will you consider the entire three parts, together, a full-length album? Or will it be something else entirely? I know you’ve said this will ultimately include visual art and film, so what will parts two and three consist of?
Nikki Lynette: The reason I broke down Happy Songs About Unhappy Things into three separate musical releases is that I want to tell the story of my mental health breakdown and recovery in a way that lets me walk the listener through it. Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the “Before.” The next one, Chronicles of a “Craxy B!+¢#, is the “During,” the actual process of being driven crazy. That will be a bit longer of a project because there is a lot to that story. The last one, The Suicide Bridge, is the “After,” the point when depression has taken hold and you are walking that line between wanting to get better and wanting to die. I plan to roll out visual art with all of them because, again, it helps to tell the story. And the film will come after all three have been released. The project is extremely layered, but at this point in my music career I’m kinda known for being complicated (laughs).
OS: How did you conceive this project? I can’t think of an artist who has released a project in this way. Just in terms of format, does it have any forebears?
NL: I chose to release it this way when I realized that I have music that I recorded during all these different phases in my life. On Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the song “Outshine the Sun” is the most recent. Even though the song is an uplifting tune, you can hear my pain in it. In “The Plot Twist,” you hear my pain. Doing it this way gives context to my depression, and if people can empathize with me then they can empathize with their own friends and loved ones who battle mental health issues. On the next release, Chronicles, there are songs on it that I produced when I was living in the hospital with my mom while she was dying, songs I wrote in response to being diagnosed with PTSD, songs I did at the studio after I broke down crying during the session then wrote a song in 15 minutes and recorded it. I don’t think I have seen a project released this way before; there are a lot of moving pieces involved because right now I am literally producing and recording two albums at once. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.