Archive for the ‘Nashville’ Category

I have been a sucker for prettyboys in makeup and scarves ever since I started experimenting with heterosexuality in my late teens.  Royal Sugar know exactly what they are doing with every painted nail and pouffed curl in their new video, “Fleeting Love.”  Check out this Raven-haired nephew of Robert Plant serving drama.  This is toxic romance ripe for angsty teen girls, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say my head doesn’t swing when he shouts “You can’t leave me love!”  

Nashville-based Duo Tyler Cohenour and Garrett Carr started their journey on Tiktok covering Harry Styles’ live track “Medicine.”  But while their sounds come from One Direction, their looks come from another: the Aqua-Net and sterling silver tradition that I have been grieving since the early 00s, when all the bro bands decided to make misery rock and be extra dudely.  Boring.  Royal Sugar plan to carry the banner of a glam rock revival.  Oh please, please do.  I will shower you in glitter confetti.

“Fleeting Love”

Royal Sugar’s ripe-for-arena pop bathes in the visual legacies left by Marc Bolan and Queen.  GNR-flavored crane shots give us full views of their impressive array of deep V-neck tops and scarves.  Bathe in the drama with Cohenour and his antique red telephone.  Watch Carr and his wispy spikes tempt fate while his guitar wails on the wet bathroom floor near a broken antennae television.  So pretty.  So tortured.  So retro.  I hope those heeled boots insulate them from their guaranteed electrocution.  

Royal Sugar are a little silly.  But if you scan their TikTok, they know they’re a little silly, whether they’re eating skittles off their star-spangled tops, or chiseling open oranges with their jawlines.  Think of them like Måneskin but more sexy-cute than sexy-dangerous.  It’s a bit of a respite if you’re bored of oversexed pop imagery.  Glam ought to have a bit of mystery to it.  I look forward to more.

Royal Sugar TikTokRoyal Sugar InstagramRoyal Sugar Spotify

The front page of his bold bright-on-black website welcomes you with the following: “You’re finally home, my fellow weirdo.” He might as well have rolled out a red carpet for a dweeb like me.  Basic Printer (Jesse Gillenwalters) and his color-blocked universe hail from Nashville’s underground, where he has developed a small but mighty following for his catchy experimental pop with electronic twiddly sound bits.  True to the tone of the album, he succumbed to his id and set it free a week early. HAHA YEAH is 26 minutes of bright vocals over earwormy rhythms as he explores relationship drama and emotional blockage, an experience he describes as a “temper tantrum” of emotional immaturity.

The album makes an interesting choice by tossing medical terms in with its robo-imagery, giving this pop a bit of iron and gristle.  The first track is called “<3 MECHANICAL HEARTBEAT <3,” pre-emoji hearts included. This tune laments the speaker’s defensively cold heart with a pretty vocal.  Boppy “TOURNIQUET,” references tying wounds and “razors in her mouth.”  It’s a little metal for the bedroom pop but I’m not mad about it – these medical references give his candied synth an edge. But HAHA YEAH gets more dark than gooey. “EVER SINCE YOU MOVED (DOWN THE STREET)” uses its mechanical voice for a fizzy buzzy confession and then lets VGM sounds express the shame and panic that the voice cannot.  Even the end of “PATIENT ROLE” slows itself down and darkly declares that “we are conjoined,” the weightiest medical word of the tune and one that shifts its sadness into what feels like a want of control. 

“PATIENT ROLE” ends up being a stand out track.  It has this mellow descent that is so smooth and beautiful while also being powerfully desperate.  A hip hop interlude from A. J. Crew slides smoothly through extended covidian metaphors.  But the biggest draw for me is how Jesse’s cutie-pie vocal wraps around my vena cava.  We get moments of his raw insecurity coming through: “Tell me/I need to know I’m needed/I need to know I’m healthy/I’m begging for empathy/know me.”  It warbles through my mellow and pokes the buttons in my needy spots.  I like the way his voice goes high.  Get it, Mariah.

HAHA YEAH reveals a lot of turmoil in eight pop tracks.  It comes to a begrudging, maybe even petulant conclusion that makes it hard to know if its voice is maturing or just yielding.  But what it does most successfully is toss in eggs and sugar to bake these contradictions into funfetti cake.  It’s a worthy choice for the repeat button, I think.

Basic Printer WebsiteBasic Printer BandcampBasic Printer Instagram