I tend not to listen to gospel music. In my experience–which may be limited–when black folks start singing about their faith, it’s usually grand melismas
wrapped around Jesus or GEE-ZAUCE (depending on where you went to church). And, no, I’m not crackin’ on anybody’s
faith. Just telling it like I’ve
I’m not sure how I came across The Neon Collars. I think it was one of the rare times I
was on MySpace. Initially, I was
happy to find a black alt band in Houston, which is better known as the
birthplace of The Geto Boys and syrup.
The Neon Collars offer a nice bit of script-flipping contrast.
What stands out on their Chasing Strange EP is that all of
the songs, projected through lead singer Franchelle Lucas’s strong, clear voice, are about
one person’s inner life. Questions
that are asked are more in the vein of what kind of person do I want to be or how
can I have a closer relationship with The Divine, rather than why did that
person do me wrong or what should I wear to the club.
Musically, group is tight. However, I would encourage them to push themselves. My least favorite track on the EP is R&B/bossa
of “Reality”. It just reminded me
too much of that smooth jazz fare.
Thing is, this group is way better than that.
It’s going to be fun to watch them develop. Right now, I
think they’re still playing it safe. But once they fully give themselves permission
to explore sounds and approach their music with same ambition as their lyrics,
it could be a gamechanger for them, as well as listeners. They’re showing what many in “black
music” seem to have forgotten: Within the traditional frames, there’s room for
imagination, experimentation and reinterpretations that speak to where we are
at this moment in the 21st century.
Case in point is the song “Far Away”. I hear this song and I’m reminded of
Dolores O’Riordan and The Cranberries on Zombie. I love the soaring vocals here, and I
can’t wait to see where they take this.
Houston, we have liftoff!