I'll admit that I'd never heard of How to Dress Well (aka Tom Krell) when his show tomorrow night at Solar Culture Gallery was announced. But after seeing lots of Facebook posts about how excited people were about the show — and about the fact that ...music video? was getting the privilege of opening for him — my curiosity was piqued.
I was sent a copy of HTDW's new album, Total Loss, checked it out, and it all made sense: HTDW and ...mv? share an aesthetic. Both trade in electro-beat R&B: ...music video? veered pretty close to the mainstream R&B of Justin Timberlake on their last album, 2011's fantastic If This TV Could Talk, while How to Dress Well immerses himself in spacey, icy-warm, ambient-influenced R&B. Both are variations of white dudes indulging their inner soul crooner, and both formulas work awfully well.
How to Dress Well's debut, 2010's Love Remains, scored great reviews and built a devoted cult following. But with the release of Total Loss, HTDW's second album, which scored an 8.4 rating on Pitchfork as well as a coveted "Best New Music" tag, the hype machine is really starting to spin. According to an email sent by How to Dress Well's publicist, "We got hit up by Beyonce’s camp because they want to sample a How To Dress Well song on her next album. He also submitted a demo to Big Boi for his new album but it didn’t make the deadline in time."
Bummer, but I have a feeling he'll land on his feet.
Meanwhile, ...music video?'s future has been in question since a cryptic post appeared on Facebook a month or two ago. The band was referred to in the past tense, which prompted others (including me) to ask some questions.
Recently I went straight to the source, ...music video?'s singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Paul Jenkins, to ask him what it means to open for How to Dress Well, as well as get some information on ...music video?'s future. Here's Paul's frank, unedited response:
Yes, I've been a fan of HTDW since he released his first single a couple years back. I'm not sure if he was directly responsible for us heading in the r&b direction, but i think he has definitely been an influence in that respect. J Lugo Miller's def a fan as well, so we're excited about sharing the same stage.
As far as our band goes ... I must take most of the blame for our what seems like our inevitable demise, as I haven't been inspired enough to finish a song in years. We have these bits and pieces of songs laying around, but i have little to no lyrics/melodies written for them. And not having new material, it becomes pointless to us to perform songs that we're sick to death of. I feel really bad having an audience that still wants to hear us when we have nothing new to offer. We also became disillusioned with the idea of being a touring band, having played 4 tours (i know, that's nothing, but it's relatively something for a Tucson band, ha), and having had minimal success.
(J Lugo) Miller is going back to school/working with local documentary film maker Andrew Brown, and Wes (McCanse) just got married and has a good job at Apple, and as for me, well, I'm waiting for the day I become truly inspired again.
For the record, we still have tentative plans to record a final release and play a final show to release it, but no idea when that will happen. If it takes until August, we could potentially play a final show on the 10 year anniversary of our first show we ever played... My dad was there. : )
Here's hoping Paul, Wes, and J Lugo find the inspiration they're looking for.
In the meantime, catch an increasingly rare show by the amazing ...music video?, opening up for How to Dress Well, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Beacon performs between the two. Admission is $10 and the show is all-ages. More information here, at solarculture.org and 884-0874.