Emerging Artists, Week 8: Lightspeed Champion
A few months ago I read a review of folk/pop musician Devonte Hynes, a.k.a. Lightspeed Champion and thought he sounded like something worth checking out. I didn’t get around to listening until now, but I’m glad I finally did.
Hynes is a former member of the band Test Icicles, but his current musical pursuits travel in the opposite direction of Test Icicles’ dance-thrash sounds.
For his first solo venture, Hynes elicited producer Mike Mogis, who is also a member of Bright Eyes. The result is Lightspeed Champion’s first full-length, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, released in February.
In an interview with Vice magazine, Hynes describes his album: “It’s like Gram Parsons dating Anne and Nancy Wilson whilst riding a solo over a nation’s dreams.” In more concrete terms, I would describe his music as no-frills pop with some country-rock influences.
A good example of this sound is “Midnight Surprises,” which begins with a spare country melody, but then veers into a polished pop song. Hynes was born in the U.S. but grew up in Britain, and the addition of his accent to the vocals adds another layer of nuance to his music.
Check out Lightspeed Champion’s live performance at SXSW from Minnesota Public Radio. It’s a nice introduction to his music with an accompanying violin and charming banter in between songs. Hynes is currently touring Europe and will be on tour in the U.S. this summer.