We are reveling in all the fresh music for 2018, after a long, year-end lull. Witness “Don’t Take It Personal,” the chillest of new jams from TJ Crisp (aka TJ The Unknown). Revolving on simple piano figure, “Don’t Take It Personal” is a slow burn, growing increasingly unsettling as it evolves. TJ’s flow gets more rapid, the pitch shifts into subtly wobbly territory, and the lines begin to repeat in an almost obsessive cycle. The beat abandons him and he’s left to fade out, “I just be doin’ my thing / I just be doin’ my thing…” Very cool (and probably NSFW):
Our favorite Australian rock and rollers (well, just this side of You Am I, that is), Royal Chant are back with a new album and a new video. The album, Pride & Poverty, won’t be here until Friday, but we’ve got a great DIY clip for the opener, “Power Pose.” Hard hitting drums (despite what you might see in the video), thick and crunchy guitars, and a killer melody typical of Royal Chant make this a promising lead for the LP. BONUS: A second clip, below, for the delightfully Guided By Voices-y “Cargo Cults.” Enjoy:
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:
L.S.C. (aka Light Sweet Crude) has our latest video of the month, “Buddy.” It’s a beautiful clip, shot in black and white, part band performance, part performance art. The group themselves describe it best:
“Buddy” is a story about loneliness and the desperation it foments. With our hero (played by singer Dan Aden), we see a man shunned by society, doomed to live his life all alone.
To help maintain a semblance of sanity, our hero creates an artificial friend—a buddy, if you will. He brings her to life with a lullaby, and she starts taking in everything around her. Things are going well, though the buddy has not yet formed an attachment to her maker. Creating a true bond with his buddy is the maker’s last goal in life—again, his sanity depends on it.
Before their bond has formed, however, misfortune strikes in the form of a newcomer (played by saxophone player Stephen Chen), who promptly begins to seduce the buddy away from her maker. Obviously, the maker does not like this turn of events. So he pulls his buddy back to him, and tells her his secret: A bond with her is all that matters; it is a matter of life and death.
For the very first time, she begins to experience sympathy. But as the buddy reaches out to touch her maker’s face, the newcomer blasts our hero away, and she is nearly helpless to the newcomer’s means of temptation. In a last-ditch effort, the maker tries to win his buddy back by singing the lullaby he originally used to rouse her.
The buddy becomes overwhelmed, reacting to too many stimuli at once. She finally snaps. Preferring to end his own creation than have it be lost to another, the maker puts her back to sleep forever, dooming himself.
California’s very, very cool indie rockers Bad Abstract have a totally banging rehearsal/recording space. Just check out the ambience in the video for their mellow jam “No Control” (directed by Louie Banuelos & Daisy Gonzalez). Vibe for days. And, of course, “No Control” itself is the kind of textured and plaintive song that has lifted them to the top of our charts, with five Top 10 and eight Top 40 placements. Enjoy:
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.)