Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze onto Billy Dechand, a long-time independent scene veteran who has released a whole slew of recordings over the last seven or eight years. His latest endeavor is ‘Innocent Sin,’ an incredibly ambitious jaunt through a dozen different influences across sixteen tracks. It’s a self-described “irreverent road to funky, humorous, sexy, and occasionally serious places.” That’s quite a designation. Let’s delve right into the first six tracks to get a taste of the record.
‘Innocent Sin’ opens up with its title track, a very funky tune employing some funk guitar, bass, and a full brass section. It’s a bold statement out the gate, especially because the record isn’t necessarily a funk record. The production value of the music is quite good, though I did find Dechand’s vocals a bit peculiarly mixed. The brass section sounds synthesized, which is fine, considering the entire sound is an eclectic soundscape chock-full of sonic intricacy. Dechand’s lead vocals embody a bit of a David Bryne type style, and I’d argue ‘Innocent Sin’ is in a similar vein to a Talking Heads tune or the like.
‘Hungry for More’ is a very short track, almost feeling like an interlude between ‘Innocent Sin’ and ‘When the Satellites Drop.’ It’s a wonderfully intimate little piece. Dechand compares himself to Beck, and while I’m not sure if the comparison is apt, there are tinges of Beck-isms throughout little ditties like ‘Hungry for More.’ ‘When the Satellites Drop’ is a much more coherent recording, one that may be the strongest of the ones we’re delving into here. It has a great pop sensibility to it and feels like the spiritual child to something like Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love.’ I particularly enjoy the atmosphere of the tune; the aural landscape is compellingly well performed.
Dechand continues his genre-hopping with ‘Reproduce,’ a pop track that even has small hints of reggae scattered throughout. It may be one of the more accessible tracks, at least, in comparison to the other tunes we’re delving into here on the Spotlight. The instrumentation is incredibly good on this tune, especially in the latter half of the track when the guitars dance off of one another and impeccable back-up vocals harmonize and bounce around Dechand.
The final two tracks we’re taking a look at in this article make a strong argument for sticking with ‘Innocent Sin’ throughout its entirety. ‘Keepin’ It Real’ is witty and intuitive, hopping through Dechand’s cynical musings with incredible tact. Again, the David Bryne comparison feels apt. This innocent little number is one of the more rewarding songs in the early stages of ‘Innocent Sin,’ jam packing itself with so much personality. “I got my own cat food commercial,” Dechand brags over one of the more poppy pieces he’s written in this segment of the record. ‘Kick Ass’ is equally as witty, perhaps even a bit parody-like. Dechand is especially powerful when he embraces the side of himself exhibited on the latter two tunes of this review.
I really adore some of the pieces of ‘Innocent Sin,’ especially the final two tracks I touched on here. ‘When the Satellites Drop’ and ‘Hungry for More’ are certainly highlights as well. Of the six, I’d argue ‘Innocent Sin’ is the least intriguing, especially when standing next to infectious pieces like ‘Kick Ass.’ I love that Dechand explores so many styles here, though, and I’d most certainly recommend delving deeper into ‘Innocent Sin.’ It’s a wonderfully personable experience with some excellent songwriting.