Southern California has been producing some of the most successful and talented R&B acts of the new millennium: Miguel and Frank Ocean are both prime examples. These new acts rely on the roots of the genre while adding synths to give the music an edge. Up and comers Skin Town seem to be taking a note from their SoCo contemporaries. The band is the new Los Angeles-based project from the live synth player for Zola Jesus and former Madison music scene guru, Nick Turco, and singer Grace Hall. The Room is their sultry new album.
The lead track, “2nite” begins in a veiled way with a head bob-inducing chorus stating in a slight falsetto, “I ain’t never been someone to walk away from fear/ and I ain’t never met someone who made me feel so real”. Turco’s beat unfolds as Hall concludes, “Caught up in a bad scene/I’ll see you on the touch screen, baby”. The song continues on and repeats the memorable chorus. It develops into a melodica-blushed jam in which the singer pleads, “Baby just please come home 2nite”. “Slidin’” is a slick riff in which Hall’s reverberated vocals gel over. “Ride” begins with a slow groove that flourishes into double time as Hall sings, “I’ll do anything you like/Whatever goes down/ Imma let it slide/As long as I get to ride”. “Ice Crystal Palace” features synth blazes and frosty sketches with a bit of rapping.
“Throwin’ Shade” ups the ante with its dance beat and booming low end. Hall raps during the verse and unleashes on the chorus, “I heard that you wanna have some fun/this kind of war can never be won/Love me or hate me, you’ll never know/Just what I do when I’m all alone”. “Hit Down” is more soulful and features piano tickles as well as some vocal samples. “Abyss” has a reoccurring tingling melody. Hall reveals herself as love torn with the lines, “I meant to say/that I just wanted you to stay” and “counting down to this abyss/there’s nothing but my loneliness”. The main melody returns as she requests her lover to “bring your loving back to me”. The album concludes with the title track, “The Room”. The song is a slow jam and features some soloing from Turco.
Skin Town are a talented duo and make a great team. It is impressive to hear music this layered made from just two people. Whether they are following trend or not, The Room is a solid effort.