Artist Profile: Lightspeed Champion

Oktober 29th, 2007 by admin

Remember Test Icicles? Yeah, they totally ruled. Sadly, they broke up not long after releasing their awesome debut LP, but silver lining has arrived in the form of Lightspeed Champion. Guitarist and sometime vocalist Devonte Hynes must have had some sort of epiphany after Test Icicles’ demise, as he traded the searing guitar riffs and acid-throated vocals (not to mention the hot pink guitars) of his former project for a whole new acoustic approach and began to record folk songs under the Lightspeed Champion moniker in 2006. A year later, he’s got two great singles under his belt and a highly anticipated debut album waiting in the wings, and appears primed to become the unlikeliest star the alt-country genre has ever seen. But before Test Icicles fade from our collective memory forever, let’s just this appreciate this track one last time, because, well, it’s the fucking jam.

MP3: “Circle Square Triangle” – Test Icicles

Staying close to home and working once again with Domino Records, he put out his debut single, “Galaxy of the Lost”, through the label last summer. Featuring the amazing “Waiting Game” stealing mad thunder on the B-side, it was one of the best debuts of the summer and established Hynes as one of the most promising talents in London’s burgeoning folk scene. Among Lightspeed Champion’s biggest fans is one Conor Oberst, who personally invited Hynes (who is originally from Houston) to his Omaha, Nebraska studio to record his debut album with Saddle Creek resident producer Mike Mogis. That record, titled Falling Off The Lavender Bridge, is due for an early 2008 release in the UK with a US release to follow shortly thereafter. Only two singles have been culled from it so far (the other being the four-act, 10+ minute epic “Midnight Surprise”), but their excellence – combined with the remarkable quality of their B-sides – suggests Lavender Bridge could be one of the best alt-country records since Bright Eyes’ own I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning in 2005. In fact, Hynes’ best track to date just might be the aforementioned B-side, “Waiting Game”, and that’s not even a lock to make the final cut for the record.

MP3: “Waiting Game” – Lightspeed Champion ((highly recommended))

There has been shit talked about how Lightspeed’s tracks are made on the female backing vocals often found on his recordings, but such accusations are clearly unjust when one considers the brilliance of “Waiting Game” and “No Surprise” (on which backing vocals are noticeably absent), easily two of his best tracks to date. That said, such doubts are somewhat understandable considering the incredible vocal talent Hynes surrounds himself with – Emmy The Great and Florence (of Florence and the Machine) are frequent collaborators – but its still Hynes emotive vocal stylings and impressive guitar work that have gotten him where he is today.

With the “Galaxy of the Lost” and “Midnight Surprise” singles already having earned him notoriety in the UK scene, Dev is set to make his American debut next week with the Galaxy of the Lost EP. The five-track EP culls the stand-out B-sides from his two single releases (”Waiting Game” and an acoustic version of “No Surprise”), alongside the title track and two cover songs – a brilliant rendition of “The Flesh Failures” from the musical Hair and a decent take on former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne’s “Xanadu”. Emmy The Great shows why she’s one of the most coveted backing vocalists in the London folk scene (even if her own material can’t quite stack up to that of her collaborators quite yet) on “Flesh Failures” and “Galaxy of the Lost”, but it’s Florence who really took the tracks to a whole new level when she supported Dev in his recent live session for BBC 6Music. In fact, the 6Music rendition of “Galaxy of the Lost” actually surpasses the brilliance of the original for me.

Lightspeed Champion, Live @ BBC 6Music
1. “Galaxy of the Lost” (ft. Florence) – Lightspeed Champion
2. “No Surprise” (ft. Florence) – Lightspeed Champion
3. “Mr. Fisk” (ft. Florence) – Lightspeed Champion

British audiences have had plenty of chances to catch Lightspeed throughout the UK over the last 18 months, but US audiences will have to wait to 2008 to see Hynes live. That is, unless you live in our fair city of New York, where Dev will be making his American live debut at Soundfix (N 11th and Bedford in Williamsburg) this Halloween Wednesday. It’s his only US show of the year, so definitely make it out if you can – I can assure you it’ll be worth your time. Check out the flyer for more info here.

Finally, while I won’t be offering the MP3 for download (though the song is quite good), definitely make sure to check out/download this high-ass resolution copy of the “Galaxy of the Lost” video. It’s totally fucked up (think Little Shop of Horrors gone plush), but it’s kind of awesome too. As it’s a large file and those download issues still aren’t totally resolved, I’m hosting it on Megaupload for y’all to download and enjoy over and over again. Check it:

“Galaxy of the Lost”
Artist: Lightspeed Champion
Ferry Gouw
Watch: [YouTube]
Download: [AVI • 67 MB] [follow link]

In other news, I saw Anton Corbijn’s Control (that Ian Curtis biopic) over the weekend and it was totally amazing. Go see it, assuming it’s out in your city. I know its run in NYC (at the Film Forum on W Houston between 6th and 7th) ends Thursday so you might have to act fast, but it’s worth it.
Oh and one final thing: M3 Volume 15 drops Halloween (hollerrr). See you then

Comments are closed.