Charles Luck – ‘Taste Bud’ & ‘We Are The Astronauts’

The 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 morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on two new releases from Charles Luck, the leader of the Black Astronaut hip hop collective. The performer released two pop-oriented singles in the last month: ‘Taste Bud’ featuring S-Class and ‘We Are The Astronauts,’ co-written by and featuring Tino Red. Let’s explore the two new tunes and see if they’re worth including in one’s ever-expanding library of Black Astronaut releases.

When Luck delves into pop stylings, he often cascades into either low-brow humor or surprisingly insightful commentary considering the sound he’s utilizing. In the case of ‘Taste Bud,’ the former is most certainly the case. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure how to properly ‘review’ ‘Taste Bud.’ It’s the most infectious, catchy, likely-offensive ballad to oral sex I’ve ever heard.

You may bop your head back and forth as S-Class sings the chorus, “I should trade up when you go down, my smile lights up when you can’t frown. I feel great because of your mouth, I hope your taste buds hear this sound.” Then, of course, you realize it’s an incredibly misogynistic look at women and surely Luck’s most low-brow effort to date. It’s catchy, yes, but I can’t imagine women would appreciate the tune. ‘Taste Bud’ is one of those songs that’s catchy enough until you listen to its lyrics. 

On ‘We Are The Astronauts,’ Tino Red joins Luck for a song that sounds quite a bit like their previous collaborations. Heavy pop influence is at play instrumentally, with Red’s performance being scored by bright, bubbly synthesizers that mimic flutes with tinges of EDM influence. Lyrically, the piece falls victim to the same lyrical faux pas of ‘Taste Buds.’ It’s not terribly romantic to be asking women to pole-dance, and it’s even more awkward when that notion is wedged in between a set of lyrics about a romantic getaway in France.

I love a good deal of Charles Luck’s work. These two singles, however, are a bit tasteless. Both of these tracks, ‘Taste Bud’ in particular, could have had their melodies recycled into meaningful content – or even just pop content that isn’t intensely sexist. I know Luck has a tendency to write in characters and play with comedic scenarios, but these songs don’t fall well into either category. They’re cheap, and Luck’s work isn’t cheap. He shouldn’t demote himself to that.

Press Release – The Pretty Fingers



The Pretty Fingers to Release Scorching New Single, ‘Best of Me’

On Friday, September 15, the independent Australian alternative rock outfit The Pretty Fingers will debut the next track in their series of continued single releases. The new song, entitled ‘Best of Me,’ boasts sonic elements that the band has become increasingly well-known for: passionate lead vocals, fiery, explosive instrumentation, and hard-hitting, memorable performances. The single is set to debut on all major digital music platforms for streaming and download alongside an official music video.

In December of 2016, The Pretty Fingers came together at Airlock Studios in Samford Queensland with producer Konstantin Kersting to record ‘Best of Me.’ The track, which was penned by Mick Bristow, Stav Tsolakides, and Bevan Bancroft, is the eighth official release in The Pretty Fingers’ ever-expanding catalog. The lyrics and video for ‘Best of Me’ loosely homage Lemmy, the iconic Motorhead frontman who died in 2015.

“The song is about believing in who you are and blazing your own trail regardless of outside negative opinions,” the band remarked about the new song. “That pretty much sums up Lemmy’s attitude to music and his life – it’s also our attitude to The Pretty Fingers’ existence as a musical entity.”

On Saturday, October 21, The Pretty Fingers will perform at the New Globe Theatre in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane in support of their new release. As a live act, the group have supported Brisbane’s top bands and the likes of Tex Perkins, Mick Blood, and others. These performances, alongside their prolific studio releases, have resulted in the band receiving significant airplay in both the United States and Australia.

‘Best of Me’ will be available tomorrow, September 15. Connect with The Pretty Fingers below to stay updated on new releases, announcements, and more! | |

Press Release & Interview: David Vaters



David Vaters To Release Highly Anticipated Sophomore Record

On Friday, September 22, the independent singer-songwriter David Vaters will release his latest studio endeavor. Entitled ‘Volume 2,’ the record comes on the heels of Vater’s first volume of solo work which was released to critical acclaim in February. Infusing Americana music with elements of alternative country, folk rock, and contemporary Christian music, Vater has quickly defined himself as a wholly unique talent quite unlike any other act in the music industry.

Despite these two recent collections of music marking Vaters’ solo debut, he’s anything but green. The veteran performer and songwriter honed his skills for many years performing on both sides of the Atlantic and lending his sound to a slew of musicians and producers’ work. Now on his own, Vaters has called upon colleagues from throughout his career to help his creative vision unfold. Some of the industry’s finest talent is on display on these albums, including musicians who have worked with the likes of Vince Gill, Peter Frampton, Kenny Loggins, Amy Grant, and others.

The upcoming ‘Volume 2’ boasts the same impressive line-up as its predecessor, a collaboration that had critics calling ‘Volume 1’ “nothing if not mature, deftly crafted and powerful.” Like that album, ‘Volume 2’ will be part of Vaters’ ‘A Voice in the Wilderness’ collection of volumed records. “If this is the first album of his out of the starting blocks, at least in a titular sense, imagine what gems are likely to follow,” raved Dave Franklin of Los Angeles’ The Plug.

Many independent artists that enjoy substantial critical acclaim are met with a less enthusiastic, niche audience. Vaters defies the norm in this regard, as his genre-spanning style has landed him on a number of notable charts. From his #1 worldwide Christian music position on Reverb Nation to charting on iTunes rock charts in Australia and Mexico, Vaters has proved his relevance as a up and coming talent to take note of.

‘A Voice in the Wilderness: Volume 2’ is available to pre-order now. The record is due out on September 22 for streaming and download on all major digital music platforms. Connect with David Vaters below to stay updated on his newest releases, announcements, and more! | Facebook | @DavidVatersNow

An Independent Spotlight Interview with David Vaters:

Your upcoming record is ‘Volume 2,’ an album that comes on the heels of your successful release, ‘A Voice In The Wilderness: Vol 1.’ What about this collection of songs made you feel it was best classified as a second volume of a larger project rather than a new record unto itself? Will there be further volumes? What are the elements that tie them together?

You know, I really like albums with a title that reflects the project over all, and even if it doesn’t, I think it’s just really great to have an album with a cool, interesting title. Usually it’s one of the titles of one of the songs or just one line or word out of one of the songs that the band or label thought would be cool and great to market! I guess once I decided to title the album ‘A Voice in the Wilderness,’ that was it. I didn’t initially intend to actually do another album.

However, at that time I was just writing new songs every week… and as we were recording we were trying to decide which songs to cut. These things are like my children, and it just turned out the natural thing to do to just keep recording. I must say the writing just had a natural progression to where it was evolving in such an interesting way. ‘Volume 2’ has the Americana, southern rock/folk feel, but then it has also a very familiar, reminiscent sound that back in the 80s would be considered pop. I’m not sure what you call it now but suffice to say it’s part of my sound and style which is pretty broad. Actually, I never think ‘oh, I’m going to write a country song or a rock or roots song.’ It comes out in such a natural way I just go with it. Hopefully people like it and get something out of the music and lyrics.”

Your music is loaded with a bevy of sonic influence: Americana, folk rock, alternative country, amongst other genres are jam-packed into your sound. Most uniquely, you draw upon Christian influence while maintaining a fan-base of secular music fans, too. How do you walk that line? Do you ever worry about becoming too preachy, or are the themes you’re exploring ones that transcend faith? To that end, if a listener isn’t religious, what do you hope they get out of your music?

“First off, this is who I am. The songs are all drawn from life experiences, just like any other artist. Take rappers for example: they rap about how they grew up and where, the pain, things they experienced and what happened to them, etc. I am no different. It’s just part of being a true artist. Nothing fake, contrived, frivolous, or invented. I write and record in a raw, soulful, truthful way, and like truth always does, it pierces straight to the heart without apology. So that’s the bottom line. 

I recently did some work with Andre Wahl, a producer/engineer friend of mine, in Canada. Maybe ‘Volume 3,’ stay tuned! Anyway, Andre has worked with the best of the best from Sarah McLachlan to Duran Duran, and he calls it “mojo.” He says, some have it and some just don’t have the real, authentic, believable “mojo.” So to answer the question, I grew up in a Christian home, went to church, traveled around the world, worked on some pretty interesting projects, messed up many times and made some wrong turns, and then figured out, man God is pretty cool to bring me through all this and bless me with a great life, wife, and family. So that’s what I guess comes out in my music.

So I don’t walk any line, I just tell it the way it is from my life perspective. Keeping it real and asking questions, and the ones I can answer I do, and the ones I can’t or haven’t figured out yet, I leave it for the listener to maybe figure out. Maybe they will get some of these answers from above and share it with us! So, I am not religious. God did not create religion. I just have a relationship with God in the same way I do with my wife, friends, and family. Religion is man-made. I don’t like it and I don’t think this world needs any more religion. It need more relationship with our maker and creator! If that’s too preachy, hey, it’s me and what the good Lord gives me to write.”

While inquiring about influences is often a surface-level question for most artists, one can’t help but feel intrigued as to where you derive your diverse sound from. Not many artists can walk the line between secular and nonsecular audiences and do so in an effective manner. Johnny Cash comes to mind. Bob Dylan does, too, to an extent. Are there other artists you admire that accomplished what you’re striving to?

“I always am humbled when I am compared to other greats like who you mentioned and others… I had a lot of influences like Cash, Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young, Lennon and Harrison, etc. So, again, I’m a product of all of these guys. I’m a little younger than these guys so I like to think that I am writing and recording a “new renaissance” of these great artists and hopefully doing it justice – no auto-tune and sequencing… just real and authentic. I like the deep. I like deep thought – bringing to light things people don’t talk about much. But I think every human being has things they need and want to hear and acknowledge from others and from artists that sometimes don’t reach down deep enough to meet people’s needs!

Bottom line, secular/nonsecular, I look at this, like I said before – it’s just who I am and I’m not going to change or be anything I’m not. The trials of life, the love of friends, family and having faith in something greater than ourselves… if that is nonsecular or whatever, it is what it is.”

You’ve worked with many musicians over the years in Canada, the United States, and in the United Kingdom. Your new releases, however, signify your debut as a solo artist. You’ve mentioned these songs are some of your more recent songwriting. Are there songs sitting in the vault from over the course of your career? Also, what was the catalyst to strike out on your own as a solo recording artist?

“Yes, I have worked with great musicians in two continents, but not on a regular basis. I would say I’ve been on the fringes of the music world. I was always in the business world, so the times I have worked in the music business I have been fortunate to only work with some of the best in the world… I have written over 500 songs – about 100 in the last three years. However, I must confess, [they’re] not all are great songs. I will say that the last three years I feel I have written the best I’ve ever written. So, yes, there are songs in the vault and I am recording some of them and it might just turn into ‘Volume 3’ Who knows! 

What caused me to do these solo albums? I simply have my wife for encouraging me to do it, so much credit goes to her. I guess the other thing was that the writing just kept coming and coming, and it was just the natural thing to do. I had to do it.”

Purchase and stream David Vaters’ music below on the following platforms:

Spotify | Amazon | Google Play | iTunes | Reverb Nation | Official Store