Posts Tagged ‘Stef Chura’

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Stef Chura sings “If only you can hear me scream” 10 full times on “Scream” before she, well, screams. Bizarrely, it’s one of the few instances on Midnight, Chura’s sophomore release and first full-length release on Saddle Creek, where she shows restraint, a fleeting respite for her vocal chords that take hit after hit throughout the entirety of the record’s 43 minutes. Howling throughout with a confident vibrato, it’s perhaps the most impressive raw vocal performance since Hop Along last put out an album, reminiscent at times of a young Karen O. A major step up from her 2017 debut Messes (which was reissued in 2018 by Saddle Creek), Midnight is the complete realization of the Detroit-based artist’s solo project, chock full of perfectly fuzzed-out guitars on one of the best-recorded DIY-leaning records in quite some time. That’s thanks in large part to Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo, who helps mold Chura’s songs into ones that sound like his own. “Scream” resembles the song structure of Teens of Denial’s “Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An),” though potentially even exceeding it as Chura’s guitar solo provides a fist-in-the-air moment before she brings the house down for one final chorus. Chura has been one of the more buzzed-about rising artists in the indie rock community for quite some time; Midnight more than delivers on that initial hype, surpassing virtually all expectations en route to becoming one of her genre’s biggest breakouts.

This an indie record for the ages, a wonderful listen where each song is completely essential to the project as a whole. Midnight is an incredible record, owing, but in no way indebted to her pitch perfect partnership with Toledo, one that’s further catapulted by Chura’s distinctive voice and extraordinary songwriting chops.

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“Close the door to your mouth and get the fuck in the car!” It’s an order that Stef Chura half sings, half-speaks halfway through the chugging “Method Man,” a big fat rock song that embodies the rattle and swagger of the Detroit artist’s sophomore release “Midnight”, itself a big fat rock record that staggers and struts like a drunk trying to walk straight, its riffs as sticky as a dive bar’s beer-sloshed floor and Chura’s delightful yips and yodels bearing the slurry quality of just a few too many bottles of Bud. Though the record has its straightforward moments —“Lemme do a jumping jack over your heart,” implores Chura on giddy number “Jumping Jack”—this is not pop and the medicine isn’t going doing easy and rarely in less than 2 minutes. Like the old rock records of yore, Midnight rewards repeat listening, the better to savor the ways Chura and Will Toledo find to reshape her loosey-goosey song structures into songs with edges as sharp and polished as diamonds.

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Though Chura’s always been a creative, exciting guitarist, she’s equally as inventive with her vocals on Midnight.  On the chorus of tightly wound “Scream,” she sings, “If only you could hear me scream!” three times in a row, changing the inflection of the final word so it sounds like “scram” or “scree-yum,” playfully expounding upon the possibilities of language while her fingers explore the boundaries of the electric guitar. “My girl is 3-dimensional,” exclaims Chura joyfully on “3D girl,” and she is.

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Stef Chura’s Saddle Creek Records debut is resonating with several sites in our following. On this standout release, the Detroit musician wields “leg-cutting words, a six-string axe, and burnt electric production from Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo that twists rusty riffed bombast through flaming red hoops.”

Michigan’s Stef Chura is a formidable triple threat: She is a intense singer, A bracing guitarist, and a revelatory songwriter. You can hear Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in her side-eyed snarl, Cat Power’s coiled intimacy in her quieter moments, Jack White and PJ Harvey in her modernist take on primitive instrumental violence and Nineties guitar-twisters like Silkworm, Pavement and Modest Mouse in the way her songs can often mutate and stretch beyond where you expect them to end up. But chalking up Chura to the sum of any sonic signposts doesn’t nearly do her second album justice. In every chirp, croak and holler, in every athletically mangled solo, she’s discovering her own voice, finding her own way to rewrite her world, and fool it too.

Stef Chura – Method Man from the album Midnight

End Your Week With Stef Chura's Beautifully Melancholic Single "Sour Honey"

“If only you could hear me scream,” Stef Chura sings at one point during her sophomore release, “Sweet Sweet Midnight”, her first full length album release for Saddle Creek Records. She makes good on her promise and does quite a bit of screaming throughout, even channeling a modern DIY Karen O at times. Produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, “Midnight” takes everything you love from his band and applies it to Chura’s transfixing voice, a perfect match for this rising act from Detroit. She’s long been building up buzz in the indie rock community; Sweet Sweet Midnight may launch her to stardom, a jump that’s been long overdue.

“For most people who create art I would assume there is some kind of deep unanswerable hole in your soul as to why you’re making it…” So says Stef Chura ahead of the release of her gritty, vehement new album – recorded and produced by Will Toledo ofCar Seat Headrestand her first new collection of songs . Illuminating that search for answers with a fevered sense of exploration, Midnight is a bold leap forward from Messes, Stef’s contagious debut album, with every aspect of her new work finding bold ways to express itself as it rips through twelve restless and relentless new tracks.

A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance. “I’m usually dealing with the context of what I can’t say or haven’t said,” . “This album has a depth to it and a particular sound because of Will,” Stef states regarding Toledo’s input, whose spiky nuances can be found across the length and breadth of Midnight, the record presenting an exhilarating rush of sound and colour as Stef’s spirited vocal finds and signature guitar sounds unravel alongside in a thrilling meeting of ideas and influences; dispelling demons, song by song.

“With this album I wanted it to be clearer and more listenable, in a number of ways,” Stef says. Proof of this outlook can be found on the edgy lead track ‘Method Man’, a boisterous three-minutes that melds jagged, skewed guitars with a distinctive voice that has a new-found sense of confidence, whether spitting spoken-word mantras during the exhilarating percussive coda or simply letting loose amid the squalling bluster of guitars.

You can find it elsewhere too, in fact it runs right through the heart of Midnight’s twelve tracks. Take the sweeping brilliance of ‘Jumpin’ Jack’, a somewhat more refined three-minutes that bursts into a thrilling finale, or ‘Sincerely Yours’, a brooding four-minutes initially gives deserved space to Stef’s voice and words more than ever before, before bursting into life with with a pent-up energy that positively roars from within.

Equal parts thrilling and angsty, Midnight is a testament to the collaborative process, a record that makes the very most of those who came together to make it, but more than that, it’s a firm statement of tenacity and perseverance, of not resting on your laurels but leaping forwards no matter the situation you find yourself in. From out of one day and into the next.

The Detroit-native indie rocker Stef Chura also released a Record Store Day release on April 21st. The song, titled “Sour Honey,” follows the double-sided vinyl’s previous release, a-side “Degrees.” Check out that first track’s lyric video below

Stef Chura – the album Midnight out June 7th!

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“‘They’ll Never’ picks up where its predecessor ‘Method’ left off, combining grunge-y guitar with a surf rock sort of fervency. In this same manner, its visual counterpart (dir. Fidel R Ruiz-Healy & Tyler Walker) follows suit, meshing the bright with the dirty, the colorful with the muted and dilapidated.”

This June, the underrated Stef Chura is releasing her sophomore album, Midnight. We’ve already heard its incisive lead single “Method Man.” For its follow-up, Chura falls back into the twangy spark that filled the Michigan musician’s 2017 debut. “They’ll never tear this place apart,” she sings, a song that both romanticizes and repudiates the place that Chura called home.

She explains:

I wrote this song while living in a building in Ypsilanti, MI that was not up to code. No one cared about it. The kitchen was moldy, the carpets were dirty and the house was generally unfinished. This place existed in an odd realm. “Sideways from grace the angles lost” This means that at a certain angle and in the right light you can see what is amiss. No one really cared for it, and yet people would go on living in it and subsequently it would be a home. No one cared enough to take care of it and no one cared enough to notice it and destroy it or hold the people who lived there accountable for keeping it up to code.

It’s also about looking into the future, that when life hands you less and circumstances aren’t what you thought they were. “They sold you love, this chalk’s just dust.” Wanting something you can’t have. Having expectations that don’t go the way you think they should. How what you bought isn’t in the box and you have to start over. There is only a memory of what is left represented by a shell of what was there. A conversation on how you can never really own anything. And life goes on even if your house is moldy and you don’t speak the same language as the drunk old man you live with who steals your potted plants and plants them in the yard for you.

Stef ChuraThey’ll Never

Listen to Stef Chura’s rowdy, rousing new single “Method Man”

It’s been two years since Michigan’s Stef Chura burst out with her contagious debut LP, Messes. That album was written way back in 2015, long before the Trump presidency and the universe as a whole gave the title an extra edge. So maybe it’s the impending sense of disaster and permacrisis of the past four years that’s led Chura to the freneticism of “Method Man,” the first single from her newly announced Saddle Creek Records debut, Midnight (out June 7th). A pared-down, scratchy, borderline chaotic single — closer to the Two Gallants end of the Saddle Creek roster than the Bright Eyes end, but more freewheeling than either — “Method Man” is a look back at a superior-feeling, over-caffeinated, nicotine-addled man from Chura’s past, by way of Wu-Tang Clan. The song sounds as much like the man’s psyche as it sounds like Chura’s anxiety in his presence.

In a press release accompanying the single, Chura remembered that frustration:

A long time ago I was pondering the literal words “Method Man” while listening to Wu-Tang. There was a person in my life that I had a confusing array of emotions for, sometimes I was in love with him, I admired and looked up to him, I thought of him as superior to me. He was older than me and I was a teenager. At that age I experienced a titanic amount of anxiety that usually expressed itself as silence.

This song was born out of a total frustration regarding a man who seemed “methodical” to me. He was literate. He waxed poetic. Almost someone…how do I say this…that you wanted to be condescending to you? As long as they were talking to you. He drank a lot of energy drinks and had this overall outlook that no one understood him. That he was in on some kind of cosmic secret that I couldn’t get. He smoked so many cigs it stained his fingers yellow.

He was always talking, and I was so enamored with this person. I was always nervous to reply. He would go on and on for hours. He sometimes would look at me and be like “oh maybe you won’t get this…. maybe you don’t get this.” I was too terrified to say much.

This Saturday, April 21st is Record Store Day, a day that brings us back to a time when the only way you could hear your favorite artist’s new song was by purchasing it on seven inches of vinyl from your local record shop. That’s exactly how Detroit indie-rocker, Stef Chura, wants us to celebrate the annual homage to vinyl culture. Chura, who released her striking debut album Messes in 2017, is pressing a thousand copies of a new 7″ that includes two songs that didn’t make it onto the LP. Both of the songs – “Degrees” and “Sour Honey” – were produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest and show Chura’s range in emotion, voice, and musicianship.

“Degrees” is a weighty, haunting rumination on mortality that shifts between delicate verses and a blazing refrain. Chura says that the song was originally a plucky folk song, but Toledo had the idea to take it in a Janis Joplin “Ball and Chain” direction, adding gritty layers of guitar that conjure up the image of towering flames.

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Falling on the opposite end of the spectrum sonically, “Sour Honey” is a stripped-down solo affair that features Chura’s flickering, elastic vocals accompanied by Toledo on piano. The bare, vulnerable sound is an appropriate match for the song’s subject matter – insecurity and hyper self-awareness.  “I wrote that song when I was working at a strip club in Detroit as a cocktail server,” says Chura. “It was about the visceral, super physical feeling of complete embarrassment and humiliation. I think I used to suffer from a lot of social anxiety and miscommunications, and it was just a very cat-fighty atmosphere.”

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The 7″ is a Record Store Day exclusive, which means you’ll only be able to pick it up at your local record store. Chura will perform at Detroit’s Third Man Records in tandem with the release,

Stef Chura

I really enjoyed Stef Chura’s  excellent debut, “Messes”, last year. Actually, I’m still enjoying it this year as well. She’s currently hard at work on its follow-up, That album is still a ways off, but the duo are giving us a taste of their collaboration with a new limited edition 7-inch for Record Store Day. The A-side is “Degrees,” a contemplative song that flares up into an epic classic-rock rave-up when the chorus hits. Car Seat Headrest Will Toledo produces and plays guitar, bass, and organ,  we’re excited to announce the RSD exclusive 7-inch by Stef Chura, Degrees b/w Sour Honey . “Degrees” and “Sour Honey” were both songs cut from Messes , but revived when Stef crossed paths with Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest and a collaboration was born. Stef says:

“I met Will Toledo in 2016 when we did some touring together with Car Seat Headrest. We chatted at the Empty Bottle in Chicago at our first show and he told me that he found my music on Tumblr via an article that compared us to each other. He invited us on a couple of tours that year before Messes was out and before we had a label or booking agent or release plans or any “stuff.” In May of 2017 we ran into each other again at the Empty Bottle. Will was mixing Twin Fantasy and came out to our gig there with the engineer he’d been working with. He invited us to the studio to check out the record the next day. When we stopped by Will had finished mixing early and asked us if we had anything going on recording-wise. I said I have a couple of songs that got cut from Messes I want to record for a 7-inch and he was like “Cool, wanna record them right now? I’ll play bass.”

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“Degrees” b/w “Sour Honey” is out as a limited edition 7-inch (1000 copies) on Record Store Day, 21st April.

STEF CHURA – ” Messes “

Posted: February 5, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Stef Chura’s debut studio album, Messes, is born of her years of experience playing around the Michigan underground clubs, setting up DIY shows in the area, and moving around the state—nearly 20 times. “Right when it starts to feel like home/It’s time to go,” she sings literally on its opening cut, ‘Slow Motion’, a twisty, dim-lit guitar pop song where she curls and stretches every word. There are worlds of emotion in the ways Chura pronounces phrases with twang and grit, alternatingly full of despair, playfulness, and abandon. Chura calls her music “emotional collage,” eschewing start-to-finish storylines in favour of writing intuitively about feelings, drawing from experiences and references related to a certain sentiment.

Originally from Alpena, Michigan, Chura moved to the Ypsilanti area in 2009, where she began playing shows before ultimately then moving to Detroit in 2012. Chura has been home-recording and self-releasing her songs for six years, playing bass in friends’ bands as well. With a trove of demos and 4-track home recordings, some of which she’d released on small runs of cassettes over the years, Chura says she wasn’t sure what to do with her life before heading into the studio. “One of my best friends passed away and I thought, what do I have to do before I die? I have to at least make one record.”

She recorded the entire album with Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good To Me) throughout 2015. Thomas plays bass on most of the record, and a bit of guitar and drums. Drummer Ryan Clancy of Jamaican Queens and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. adds the bulk of the drums. Through intricate guitar work and warm, textured production, Messes finds her trying to make sense of life’s ups and downs. “It’s about emotional mess, not physical mess,” Chura says. “The title track is about knowing that you are going to do something the wrong way, but you’re doing it anyway because you want that experience. I’ve had to do a lot of things the wrong way in order to figure out how to live my life.”

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Stef Chura’s star is definitely on the rise: The Detroit native recently released her debut, “Messes”, via Urinal Cake Records, Its an 11-song set of warbling guitar-pop anthems that showcase her husky, perpetually down turned vocals. She’s earned coverage across music web sites like on Stereogum, Pitchfork and NPR, and she can count Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good to Me) as a fan; the noted indie-rock vet produced and played bass on her first LP. Reflecting a post-adolescent period of trial and error,

Chura’s debut appears to writhe with growing pains as she quavers to an unwilling crush, “Right when it starts to feel like home / It’s time to go” on album opener “Slow Motion.” The conflicts repeat on the withered follow-up, “You,” where Chura trills like skeptical Dolores O’Riordan: “Sick and tired / Always admired you from afar.”

Chura’s internal debates, which are featured prominently on Messes, can also spill out in person. She admits to sometimes wishing she’d put more effort into music earlier in her 20s, despite her blossoming visibility (she’s about to tour with Washington D.C. punks Priests next). Then, just as suddenly, she changes her mind. “I think a lot of people think there’s these picture-perfect stories of someone getting really successful when they’re young, There’s no right age to be doing anything.”