St. Louis based indie extraordinaire Tony Crown is no stranger to the art of storytelling. A skillful songwriter, multi-faceted performer, and visual artist, Crown’s brush strokes extend beyond the canvas regardless of the medium he’s working in. His musical resume is like a time transcending playlist on shuffle, hopping from Jane and Anthony’s subdued lounge stylings, to Lawrence and the Lion’s folk-rooted Americana, to fronting the lively rock of Living Room Lava. Crown’s past musical projects fared well, receiving placement in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, CW11’s Hart of Dixie, and ABC’s Brothers and Sisters. Recently, Crown released the singles “In the Now” and “Killing Machine” off of his debut solo album Distant from the Universe. While the LP isn’t set to release in full until July 7th 2017, its first two singles have already secured placement in Showtime’s The Affair and AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead respectively.
“In the Now” is a spaced out, heavily ambient, take on the alternative rock genre. It lightens rock’s weight so to speak, but maintains its resonance. The track’s dramatic orchestral-synth intro is instantly moving, floating listeners from one musical layer to another, before stripping bare to Crown’s introduction of the hook. Crown’s vocals are feather light, connecting each steadily rocking verse with fluent melody. While the song moves forwards to an upbeat stride, “In the Now” becomes its own moment through which listeners can express liberation and relief. The track comes full circle to a textured outro over a soft refrain of the chorus. Crown’s delivery shapes his words into a mantra of sorts: “And I know that I am real.” As Crown’s voice grows faint, his emotional sentiment carries the weight of the track’s orchestral backing.
In contrast, “Killing Machine” shows an intensified side to Crown. Piece by piece, the intro and verses work to construct a sense of agitation. A single incessant piano note sets the tone and carries on throughout the verses. This acts like a relentless fly’s buzzing, or a worker’s nerve-induced finger tapping. It’s the sign of something or someone about to break. A jingling melody, reminiscent of a child’s music box, is layered under rallying war chants. The combination makes for an unsettling verse, eliciting fear before erupting into the rage of the chorus. This rage isn’t defined by screaming or distorted guitars, but rather shadowy ragtime piano and a steady percussive march. The aged musical references help reinforce Crown’s sinister protagonist: “You’re a good old fashioned killing machine.” The ragged piano, however, has a particularly chilling effect. A century ago ragtime piano and Crown might’ve been neighbours both growing up in St. Louis, but Crown twists the musical style into more of an unfriendly stranger. It feels like an almost sardonic nod to an old timey saloon entertainer. It makes the tale’s violence seem like a game, like it’s entertainment within itself. After the track’s recent placement in Fear the Walking Dead’s episode “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame,” this statement only appears to ring more true. While Crown’s first two singles off of Distant from the Universe have already received critical television placement, there is a lot to look forward to with the album’s full release on July 7th, 2017.
For more information visit: tonycrownmusic.com
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