Oddly enough, my introduction to up-and-coming indie rock outfit Blood Orange was very similar to my introduction to British singer/songwriter Lightspeed Champion -- the stage name of Devonté Hynes -- back in late 2007. I had initially listened to albums from both bands, not immediately comprehending just what was going on. With Lightspeed Champion, I didn't initially realize that what I was hearing, but their debut album Falling Off The Lavender Bridge was soon to become one my favorite albums of the past three years. With regards to Blood Orange, I honestly did not know what I was listening to was, in fact, a side project of the aforementioned Hynes -- yet another moniker for the immensely talented musician.
I suppose it's a testament to Devonté Hynes -- that he can pull the wool over one of his biggest fans' eyes, effectively tricking me into thinking I had stumbled upon yet another brilliant British indie rock band.
Hynes has been working with his Blood Orange side-project since 2009, playing different demos of songs on his soon-to-be-released debut album Coastal Grooves at various live shows. Blood Orange's debut single, "Dinner," was released this January on Terrible Records -- Coastal Grooves is set for release August 8 via Domino. One of the standout tracks on Coast Grooves, "Sutphin Boulevard," was even featured on the debut episode of MTV's Skins this past January.
Along with "Sutphin Boulevard," Coastal Grooves features other solid songs such as "S'cooled," "Forget It" and "I'm Sorry We Lied." All of these songs serve as a testament to the ingenuity of Hynes, who first got his start as the bassist for English indie rock/punk band Test Icicles in 2005. "S'cooled" is the biggest departure for Hynes, featuring a hip hop/quasi-new jack swing beat in the vein of the aforementioned "Dinner." The song is immediately catchy, driven by its unorthodox song structure and Tom Tom Club-esque side sound effects.
Perhaps the best song on Coastal Grooves is the fast-paced-yet-kinda-glum "I'm Sorry We Lied." The song is buoyed by a frenetic drum beat, soon joined by twangy guitars and Hynes' yearning vocals. Those vocals are the one thing that stand out for me when I listen to Hynes' music, whether it be named Lightspeed Champion or Blood Orange. He has such a sincere delivery, singing songs about heartbreak and other not-so-heartwarming subject matter. Honesty like that is difficult to find these days, so it makes Hynes' efforts all the more noteworthy.
By now, it's pretty clear that I very much enjoy Devonté Hynes as a musician. Why, then, did I choose to write about his latest project, Blood Orange? I shit you not -- I must have listened to a smattering of Hynes' new music as Blood Orange at least twice before I decided I wanted to write about this exciting new band I was so excited about. It was then when I actually decided to brush up on the band that I figured everything out -- Blood Orange was, in fact, Devonté Hynes. I sat stunned for a good minute or so before I was awestruck at just how talented Hynes really is -- to release completely new material under a new name that even some of his staunchest fans (myself, in this instance) couldn't even realize was, indeed, him all along.
Coastal Grooves is out 8/8 via Domino. Tracklist is as follows:
1. Forget It
2. Sutphin Boulevard
3. I'm Sorry We Lied
4. Can We Go Inside Now?
6. Complete Failure
7. Instantly Blank (The Goodness)
8. The Complete Knock
9. Are You Sure You're Really Busy?
10. Champagne Coast