Stef Chura - Messes

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:7 Release Date:2017-01-27

Michigan lo-fi DIY buzz artist Stef Chura writes stripped bare, testimonial songs that remind the listener of another Midwesterner. They even share the same guitar. But, there’s more than Liz Phair influence on the eleven tracks of her new album Messes.

With edgy time signatures, jangly rhythms, and a voice that runs the gamut from whining to warbling (think: Karen O.), Messes is a mixed bag. Stef Chura calls her music “emotional collage,” an apt descriptor both musically and lyrically. The content is confessional poetry while the music is the aforementioned patchwork, proving that she has a firm grip on her music, all the way down to the title of her album.

Things start promisingly with “Slow Motion,” a two-minute bit of jangle-pop, and “You” a song that uses the metallic slide of her fingers on the strings as a purposeful accent to the verse lines leading up to a grungy chorus of Chura warbling “You!” Given that we’re decades beyond the novelty of Nirvana’s soft/loud formula, I’m guessing the similarities to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are the fully matured fruit of those nascent seeds from the 90s, so I’m giving her a pass.

“Spotted Gold,” the most commercially viable song on the album (with a droll video to boot), is another standout that demonstrates the potential Stef Chura possesses. On the other hand, there are some that don’t seem up to par, specifically a handful of slow, moody dirges that don’t distinguish much from each other, perhaps a product of a three-piece band that still clings to their bathtub gin roots. Just the same, she chose the best one, “Speeding Ticket,” as the closer.

Messes is one of those albums that slowly grows on you and Chura appears to be looking to take the next step up the ladder. There’s clearly enough on here to make me believe she can. At least a few of her songs would benefit from some fat added to the veneer of flesh clinging to the bare bones, but all of that aside, Stef Chura seems poised to be much bigger a year from now.

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