First Watch: Stef Chura, 'Spotted Gold'

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Stef Chura's debut album, <em>Messes</em>, comes out Jan. 27, 2017.
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Stef Chura comes from Michigan's underground DIY scene. Her music recalls the propulsive, pop-driven rock of icons like Liz Phair and Hole; her conversational, confessional lyrics add a touch of folksiness. In advance of her debut album — Messes, due out Jan. 27 of next year — Chura's shared the third single, "Spotted Gold," and its video.

The video for "Spotted Gold" looks to eras past with its bright colors and title cards, particularly one that looks like it was made in MS Paint. A small logo bearing Chura's name hovers in the lower right-hand corner throughout the video, giving it a commercial, MTV-like feeling. Meanwhile, her band members do things normally considered bad luck, or simply against common sense: smashing a mirror, sticking a fork in a toaster, pouring milk over a laptop. The imagery becomes increasingly more violent and rapid-fire, keeping in step with the changing outfits of the musicians. Paired with the colorful backdrop and buoyant music, it creates dissonance and a sense of unease.

This is intentional: "There is this clear narrative in the song of acting like you don't care, when actually it kills you," Chura told NPR in an email. She went on to talk about the lyrics. "'Spotted gold turned black and blue' is imagery of something good becoming tarnished. I wrote it about a girl I was playing in a band with a few years ago. I could tell our friendship was going sour and I didn't know how to fix it. We were young. I lied to her and told her the song was about an old boyfriend."

Messes is Chura's first full-length LP after years of releasing EPs and demos on her Bandcamp page. And "Spotted Gold" has come a long way from the folky, lo-fi music she created on her self-titled debut EP from 2010, adding an edge to her delicate voice and wavering poetry. She still has the flickering, hand-picked guitar to underscore her wandering lyrics, but the instrumentation has gotten a little grittier.

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