Last month, I wrote about Calvin Johnson, 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 prominently feature 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.
Now, as you may recall, Johnson’s forthcoming 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. Interestingly, 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 — and Carney and Johnson met during that tour. As the story goes, the two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they should collaborate. Branch, a solo artist of note is best known for being a member of The Wreckers, and as it turns out that 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.
The album’s first single “Kiss Me Sweetly,” was 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. A Wonderful Beast’s latest single is the Tom Vek meets bubblegum pop-like “Love Me Like You Do,” a track that features jagged blasts of guitar, soaring synths and a dance floor friendly hook — but unlike its predecessor, the album’s latest single possesses a mischievous irony at its core, as it features a somewhat self-obsessed, self-absorbed narrator, who only sees his own greatness.
The recently released video features Johnson in someone’s backyard, singing along to the song and doing some extremely white guy dancing to the song — with a brief blasts of psychedelic imagery. It’s goofy as hell but downright enjoyable.