Looking to uncover some new tunes? Here's our resident music expert Matt Dyson's new monthly column, to help you explore the latest from the left-field.
What is The Modern Music Masterclass? It’s a journey – one in which we’ll help you unearth the gems in the digital record shop that is Spotify. Each month Vodafone’s resident music expert Matt Dyson will dive into a genre and pick out three emerging, new or upcoming groups that you’ve probably never heard of, but should have. This month? It’s time to take a look at some of the best solo acts around…
“Bands, those funny little plans that never were quite right”, once croaked Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, having retreated to the Catskill Mountains to record the band’s masterpiece and cling on to what remained of their minds. He had a point.
Alright: not all bands splinter into madness. But they are often the ultimate dysfunctional family. It could be a lead guitarist wanting to be frontmen. Bass players who want a 10 minute jazz instrumental. Lead singers who storm out of rehearsal rooms. Or drummers with the enthusiasm of labradors and the sense to match.
It’s easy to see why some artists rein it all in and opt to go it alone. So with that in mind, this month it’s all about visionary solo artists. Here are three to get you started…
Micha P Hinson
Micha P Hinson has a voice like thick, melting tar and a back story which led him down dark roads that even the most grizzled blues or country singers would have avoided at his age. By the time he was in his early twenties he’d already been though substance abuse, prison, homelessness and – inevitably – heartbreak. Fortunately, what he lacks in luck he more than makes up in arresting talent.
Debut ‘Micha P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress’ was full of what he describes as ‘violent country’. And it’s still at the heart of what he does now, alone or with full blown orchestras. Think: Johnny Cash, robbed and left for dead but taking it all in his stride. It’s almost as if he’s used up all his bad luck – all that’s left is his finger picking and his exposed soul.
Beneath the Rose by Micah P. Hinson
Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest is a homage to Will Toledo’s original recordings which were done in the back of a beat up car – ditching not only the idea of a band but also the totally mainstream concept of a ‘room’ or ‘studio’. Inevitably, this has made him something of a god for those who worship at the tattered altar of D.I.Y, lo-fi artists.
But if any would-be producers listened to Teens of Style, they would probably start weeping into their studio bills as Will’s managed to recreate the vision of Phil Spector’s wall of sound, the melancholic magic of Brian Wilson and the battered energy of early ‘90s garage bands into each and every song. Who knows what would’ve happened if he had been in the front seat.
Something Soon by Car Seat Headrest
For Steve Mason, spending time alone probably isn’t like it is for most. Ever since the Beta Band you sense that stepping into his head would be like landing in a brightly coloured expanse of outer-worldly landscapes, where a billion ideas are free to link up and float off wherever they want. And his work has always got that swagger of someone in a damp raincoat who’s daydreaming of riding a unicorn in neon Bermuda shorts.
After a brief stint as King Biscuit Time he’s now well and truly into his solo career. And he’s better than ever, free to come to terms with, and revel in, his ongoing bewilderment as he whispers hooks and drops clattering beats into a cooking pot of warm hearted musings.
Alive by Steve Mason