Song of the Day

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October 6, 2023

Stella and the Very Messed: “Merchandiser”

By: Jack Anderson

Lots of longtime local concertgoers are likely to remember Cruiserweight. Now Cruiserweight has shared new music as recently as 2021, but not long before that, a couple of its crew members split off and started something a bit more…messy. We’re talking about Dave Hawkins and Stella Maxwell, co-founders of Austin quintet Stella and the Very Messed.

After testing out a couple of stripped-down demos at the turn of the decade, Stella and the Very Messed got a jump on the impending pandemic in early 2020 with their debut nine-track as a five-piece On Fences. Sure, S.a.t.V.M. retain a lot of the straightforward pop-rock formulas, hook-ready melodies and all, of their predecessor, but Stella et. al are admittedly more risky when it comes to playing around with arrangements and placement of instruments. Even though they kept listeners engaged with a triplet of new tunes in mid-2021 (Marigold), Stella and the Very Messed reckoned with the all-too-real creative obstacle of parenthood last year and ultimately decided to tap the brakes.

Well Stella and the Very Messed are finally back, and apparently pretty keen on making the most of their latest batch. They joined forces with Test Tube Audio producer Kevin Butler as well as Paradise Lunch co-producers Adam Mason and Walker Lukens to elevate a pair of pop originals into the pantheon of 2023 Austin-originating stunners. Catch the full band next Saturday at Sunny’s Backyard for an Oktoberfest release show, get a glimpse into “Crystal Ball” when you can, and make some space in your wardrobe for a T-shirt or two as you cash in with “Merchandiser”. It’s got a deceptively gentle introduction, because once “Merchandiser” hits the 40-second mark, the five-piece fires on all cylinders with ’80s-style synth arpeggios and MIDI percussion, moody electric guitar chords, a serious strut of a bass groove, and, almost goes without saying, the frontwoman’s fierce, refreshingly human vocals.


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