Stef Chura

Stef Chura covers How to Rent a Room

by Woody on October 29, 2019

(photo credit: Danielle Dabney)

Stef Chura put out one of my favorite albums of the year with Midnight. She has followed that up with a cover of Silver Jews’ How to Rent a Room; one of my favorite tunes that Berman penned.

While Chura has previously performed “How To Rent a Room” solo in live sets, this version of The Natural Bridge opener came together shortly after Berman’s passing this summer. “‘How To Rent a Room’ has always been one of those songs that I could never let go of,” explains Chura. “Ever since the first time I heard it it’s always been one of my favorite songs and remains one that imprinted me as a young songwriter. Now, in light of his death, the lyrics take on a new and much sadder meaning. At the time they seemed conceptual, but the line ‘Now there’s a lot of things that I’m gonna miss, like the thunder down country and the way water drips’ is now a haunting and deeply poetic rendering of everyday minutiae and the texture of our lives that we don’t appreciate on a daily basis. The song seems nostalgic for a life he was currently living, and how important it can feel to mean something to someone. Or at least that’s my interpretation.”

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Stef Chura – Midnight (album release)

by Woody on June 14, 2019

photo credit: Chloe Sells

I am an unabashed addict of music. I am listening all day long, usually 8 to 10 albums a day. One of the great pleasures is when an artist takes a magical leap from one album to the next. For that is what happened here with Stef Chura’s sophomore release.

Chura is a kid that grew up 90s and early 00’s music and it shows. She’s compiled all these influences into her own meaty stew of impassioned vocals and gnarly guitar hooks. Helping her throughout the process is another indie vunderkind visionary in Will Toledo. Ah to be a fly on the wall as those two hashed shit out. That’s just too much musical smarts in one place. In fact, Toledo pops up on Sweet Sweet Midnight; a track that slowly dissolves into quirky electronic boops and punchy guitar licks. I’d give up my small toe to see them play that live.

I just got finished reading Meet Me In The Bathroom so the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are fresh on the old noggin’. And she rips off a couple of numbers that’d make Karen O proud. Method Man is one such number. She segues from that into Trumbull, a tune that sees Chura pouring it all out on a piano. Jumping Jack follows; a breakup track that seems straight forward enough before she hangs a left towards the end. That’s just great sequencing; an art that few still appreciate.

I can’t say enough good things about this album. Such an accomplishment for all involved.

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photo credit: Chloe Sells

Stef Chura is set to follow up 2017’s excellent Messes with Midnight; out June 7th via the fine folks at Saddle Creek. Messes was a raw, excellent album. For Midnight, she enlisted Will Toledo to handle the knobs and buttons, and there is a lot more going on here and I’m ready for it. Here’s some more info from the PR squad.

A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance. “I’m usually dealing with the context of what I can’t say or haven’t said,” Stef says. “A kind of spiritual bondage that I would say most people, probably a lot of female bodied ones, put themselves through.”

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I very much enjoyed Stef Chura’s debut, Messes, last year. Actually, still enjoying it this year as well. Check out the tune below and the backstory of how she came to have Will Toledo produce it.

“I met Will Toledo in 2016 when we did some touring together with Car Seat Headrest. We chatted at the Empty Bottle in Chicago at our first show and he told me that he found my music on Tumblr via an article that compared us to each other. He invited us on a couple of tours that year before Messes was out and before we had a label or booking agent or release plans or any “stuff.” In May of 2017 we ran into each other again at the Empty Bottle. Will was mixing Twin Fantasy and came out to our gig there with the engineer he’d been working with. He invited us to the studio to check out the record the next day. When we stopped by Will had finished mixing early and asked us if we had anything going on recording-wise. I said I have a couple of songs that got cut from Messes I want to record for a 7-inch and he was like “Cool, wanna record them right now? I’ll play bass.”

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Stef Chura – Messes (album review)

January 26, 2017

The thing that always draws me to Chrissie Hynde is that she has this swagger about her that made me feel that she is the coolest person in the room. It was some of her demeanor but mostly it was how she sung. I’m not going to anoint 22 y/o Stef Chura as the next […]

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Stef Chura announces debut, Messes, out on 1/27/17

October 14, 2016

The sheer volume of female artists that are a) inspired by 90s college rock and b) doing it extremely well could be daunting to some forty-something suburban dads. But this Dad is determined to wade through the ever-expanding collection of rocking women. I hadn’t heard of Stef Chura before yesterday but apparently she’s been knocking […]

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