Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kids These Days

The smart lads associated with Pipe and Hat have followed up their fastball with a curve and managed to strike me out. After first backing local hip-hop act The Lytics, Tim and Kenny's label/management company is working with an artist by the name of James Struthers who is decidedly different but no less a winning artist.

I've written about The Lytics elsewhere but in a nutshell we're talking about old-school positivity combined with new-school exuberance - the music hearkens back to the daisy age but is made by kids who were just being born when 3 Feet High & Rising dropped.

Struthers' stuff hearkens back to a prior 'era' as well, but a much more recent one. Hearing Nadia for the first time I couldn't help but think of my first listen to Sondre Lerche's Faces Down in 2002. Subsequent listens to both have only confirmed my initial connection between the Swedish pop-wunderkind and his Winnipeg counterpart; there's an inescapable joy in both the songs and the song-craft of each.

Take what is ostensibly Struthers' first 'single,' "You, Me and Optimus Prime" with its focus on toys, sno-cones and other childish pursuits. The song teeters on the brink of cloying sweetness but manages to never tip over, while retaining an endearing 'aw shucks' innocence.

Elsewhere, Struthers manages to make lovelorn alcoholism sound unbearably swank on "Tanqueray Blues," though that swank sound may be as much about the orchestration. As with Lerche's earliest material, the attention to the arrangements, composition and orchestration on Nadia is fine-tuned and perfectly matches Struthers' voice (which is a breathy, bravura thing). And like Lerche, Struthers has found this complement to his voice early [Lerche was 19 when Faces Down came out, Struthers is 20], which bodes well for the future.

If you happen to live in Winnipeg, Struthers will be launching Nadia in a show at the Park Theatre on June 12th.

Don't forget to visit James' Myspace page, blog and his Radio 3 page.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...