Charles Luck - 'Earthquakes'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music. 

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze once again on Charles Luck, an indie hip hop artist and the principle songwriter for Black Astronaut, a large collective putting out an increasingly prolific portfolio of music. I’ve been highly complimentary of Luck’s music in the past, lauding his excellent lyricism and consistent handle over his production. In many ways, he is a breath of fresh air in the indie hip hop community. His latest track, ‘Earthquakes,’ attempts to further diversify his sonic palette. Is it worth including in your collection, though? Let’s delve into it and find out.

Out of the gate, the obvious departure on ‘Earthquakes’ is that it’s essentially an electronic pop song with a hip hop feature. It’s not particularly a hip hop track. It’s an interesting angle for Luck, and I’d certainly never slant an artist for experimenting with their sound and reaching into new genres. It creates good and bad territory for Luck in that trade-off, though, which I suspect he fully understands when digging into pop.

The good? ‘Earthquakes’ is a solid pop song. Addie, the featured female vocalist, really holds her own against a huge soundscape. The electronic composition doesn’t experiment or enter any untraveled territory, but it doesn’t need to. The ‘bad,’ however, is that some of Luck’s superb lyricism is lost in the transition to pop. If you’re expecting to get a ‘Life on Mars’ effort from this song, you won’t find it.

The latter half of the song brings Tino Red into the piece, firing shots across the bow at president-elect Donald Trump. I’m so happy Luck is releasing music like this. Trump is the most divisive political figure of the modern era. The artistic community should be skeptical and analytical of him. That’s how free speech works, and that’s why it always complements art so perfectly.

‘Earthquakes’ is an excellent pop song. It may lack some of the depth of Luck’s previous efforts, but it makes up for that with razor sharp direction. The production by Ian Hanks is well executed, too, rounding out the single as another notably good entry in Charles Luck’s catalog.