Calvin Johnson is an Olympia, WA-born and-based guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer and DJ best known as a founding member of Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team and The Halo Benders, all of which featured his rich baritone vocals. He’s also the founder and owner of renowned indie label K Records — and he was one of the major organizers of the International Pop Underground Convention.
Johnson’s forthcoming album A Wonderful Beast is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through his own K Records, and the album, which was recorded at Audio Eagle Studios in Nashville, TN finds Johnson collaborating with the The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who cowrote and produced the album and Michelle Branch, who contributes backing vocals on three songs. Johnson can trace the origins of his collaboration with Carney back to 2005 when the Olympia, WA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, producer and DJ was on a stateside tour to support his sophomore solo album Before the Dream Faded. The two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they collaborate. Branch is best known for being a member of The Wreckers and for a solo career, and as the story goes, she lives next door to Audio Eagle Studios. Intrigued by the sounds she heard from the shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what was going on, and she wound up on the album.
A Wonderful Beast‘s first single is the swooning and urgent “Kiss Me Sweetly,” a single centered around a 60s bubblegum pop-like arrangement featuring a propulsive rhythm section consisting of a thumping, almost boom-bap-like backbeat, a funky bass line and blasts of swirling, kaleidoscopic guitar playing — but by far, the star of the song is the harmonizing between Johnson’s rich, sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal soprano, which further emphasizes the song’s swooning nature.