Tag Archives: Stef Chura

On “Midnight,” Stef Chura Gets Loose

Stef Chura has been hosting karaoke two to three times a week for four years. She considers herself a veteran. “I need to know my hours,” she says. “Do I have 10,000 hours? Am I a real professional yet?” It’s a funny question for a professional touring musician with a record contract to ask herself. 

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Disco Punk, House, Ambient and More

7 essential

Welcome to Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend crucial new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Album of the Day: Stef Chura, “Messes”

On first listen, the debut album from Michigan’s Stef Chura scans as a blown-out celebration of rock’s basic building blocks—guitar, drums, bass, vocals, and heart. The secret weapon, though, is Chura’s seen-it-all twang and her unpredictable song structures; they give her lyrics—which are often as brief as bathroom-wall aphorisms—a cutting edge.

The spare “Thin,” which pairs Chura’s voice with bare-bones guitar and percussion, consists of a single verse; its central metaphor: the scratch-off surface of a lottery ticket. The glum “You” chronicles the narrator’s longing, circular admiration for someone distant, with the chiming guitars becoming more intense as Chura’s vocal blossoms slowly from sulk into yawp. On the title track, sullen guitar melodies arise from Pigpen-cloud riffs, until a multitracked Chura swoops in with words of comfort, centering the chaos.

Chura’s brand of close-to-the-bone pop is intimate yet triumphant, bringing to mind the likes of Holly Golightly and Kristin Hersh. Her songs are ways out of emotional jams, with intricate guitar lines and unexpected left turns both tracing her feelings driving her poetry. It’s hardly bedroom lo-fi. Instead, the reverb on tracks like the wistful “Human Being” and the jittery “Spotted Gold” give the album the feeling of an frantic car ride, one where the destination isn’t a place, but a clearer, more assured sense of self.

Maura Johnston