Coming out of the Detroit area, Stef Chura is now a force to be reckoned with. Recalling the best moments from early Throwing Muses or Mary Margaret O'Hara releases, her new album, Messes, out Friday on Urinal Cake Records, is a burst of youthful creativity captured on tape. Bridging the worlds of bedsit folk and lo-fi fuzz, Messes is a darn infectious album which I'm happy to offer a brief review of here.
From the woozy reel of the title cut and on to the Kristin Hersh-recalling "Slow Motion", it's obvious that Stef Chura is in command of her material. These cuts are, if not blistering indie spins on the folky formula, intimate and brash moments of song-writing. There's somewhat more accessible, (college) radio-friendly stuff here ("Human Being"), as well as cuts that suggest an updating of The Raincoats for a new set of listeners ("On and Off For You"), a nod in the direction of Chrissie Hynde's Pretenders ("Faded Heart"), or even a spin on those great Seventies Joni Mitchell albums ("You").
Remarkably, for a record that flirts at the edges of something that could become too precious, too falsely intimate, Stef Chura's Messes remains a darn impressive release. Earning such favorable comparisons to songwriters like Kristin Hersh or Joni ought to tell you that this is something special. Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good To Me) plays bass on a lot of this, along with some guitar and drums, while Ryan Clancy (Jamaican Queens, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) plays most of the drums on Messes but, really, this is clearly Stef's show. She is totally in command of this material and the risks she takes here are worth it. Fun in spots, brash in others, and introspective in others, Messes is a wonder.
[Photo: Zak Bratto]