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Balancing Act

Stoop Kids Offer an Eclectic Sound on New Mixtape ‘Queue’

Several years back, indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch revealed his rules for making art — a list that culminated in the pronouncement that despite the gravitas that the public often awards its innovators, nothing is original. The true struggle of the artist, Jarmusch wrote, is to find a new way of expression. He wrote, “Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.” Stoop Kids, a New Orleans-born outfit self-described as a “psychedelic jukebox,” is a band in Jarmusch’s tradition. The group melds sunny surf-pop, heady psych-rock, with jazz, soul, hip-hop, and EDM production flourishes for a wholly unique sound that does right by its musical ancestors. 


To ask a Stoop Kid himself, you would get a similar response. Frontman Griffin Dean told NoDef that their sound is "a mix of old genres. Doo wop, first and foremost. But also soul, blues, Hawaiian surf rock, psychobilly, hip hop, classic rock." The band all bonded over music while attending college in the Crescent City, introducing each other to their respective favorite influences. Though the long list might read undisciplined, there is a clear distillation in Stoop Kids' sound that reveals a musical methodology to their madness. 


True to their penchant for honoring their musical roots, a move to Nashville earlier this year does not change the Stoop Kids’ consideration that they are a New Orleans band. The five-piece outfit is fronted by Dean, who performs vocals, guitar, songwriting, and rapping duties. Thomas Eisenhood (baritone saxophone, harmonies), Sam Fruend (bass, harmonies), David Paternostro (guitar, keys), and Joe Tontillo (drums) round out the sound. 


Their newest effort, Queue, is an auditory bricolage of influences. The band refers to the output as a mixtape rather than an album due to its intentional lack of thematic or generic cohesion. According to Dean, it is “purposefully all over the place. Life is so often in flux, so the music is in flux.” And lest fans think it’s a mixtape in name alone — the boys personally made cassette tape compilations of Queue for limited edition sale, in addition to releasing digital copies on Spotify and SoundCloud. 


Any attempt to pin point the sound of the 10-track Queue will be in vain, but that frustration is all part of the fun. It’s a grand Stoop Kids tradition to fuse multiple genres into one cohesive, singular sound. “Good Enough” a timeless yet referential pop tune, blends the nostalgic harmonies that remind the listener, from moment to moment, of surfy Beach Boys to soulful Temptations. The retro vocals are matched with a contempo-psych style that put Stoop Kids in the company of Foxygen and Tame Impala. 


The album then moves to “Motions,” the third official single off of Queue which tracks the group’s funk explorations. The song is capably shaped by retro-filtered production touches that call back to Mark Ronson’s work with Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars. It is also the track, along with “Good Enough,” that the band has the most fun performing live, according to Dean. 


The transition from the catchy “Curious Man” to make way for the dreamy hip hop track “Hey Banana” illustrates how dexterous this quintet is in adopting and reinventing sounds. The group welcomed rapper J.O. to latter, a predominantly psych-surf tune. In the capable hands of J.O., the only musical collaborator featured on the album, the hip hop verse wisely bridges the seemingly disparate sounds. For the Gen X listener, Queue then transitions to the 90’s rock inspired “Tahoe,” written about their time on the road. 


A stand-out track from the album is Stoop Kids’ latest single “Got Soul,” which dropped hours before Queue’s release on Friday (5.5). The song mixes late-90’s slow jams sensibilities with electronic-filtered vocals, brass instrument accompaniment, and a damn catchy hook. The refrain, “When you get high, I get high / When you get low, I get high” will sure to get you boppin’. What is most interesting is how each of these separate elements come together over each verse; the band teases each separate feature, allowing them to meld together with room to breathe. By the end of the track, it is a cohesive and soaring sound of unanticipated proportions.


Looking toward the future, the band is happy to get back on the road for an extensive tour promoting Queue. They will drop back by NOLA when they take the stage this summer at Mid-City’s Bayou Boogaloo


Though Queue has been released just a few days, Dean says that the band already has songs written for another EP, anticipated for a 2018 release. Their new work will be a more definable offering than the expansive Queue — a mixture of their leading influences, nostalgic doo-wop harmonies and modern hip hop, into a sound that Dean terms ‘doo-hop.’


Keep in the know with Stoop Kids here


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