Ryan Upchurch aka Coyote Fairgrounds is a one-man act located in Austin, TX. Upchurch is a self-taught musician who takes influences from many genres such as electronic, some blues, hip-hop, funk and indie rock, and molds them into impressive songs on his self-titled album Coyote Fairgrounds. The music is the most attractive part of the EP as Upchurch’s style is often inventive, spacious and never holds on to one groove for all that long. You won’t find a lot of distortion on this EP but you will find silky guitars, smooth sounding synths and an electric blend of percussion that tends to feel more influenced by hip-hop and R&B rather than rock. His voice is run of the mill and isn't particularly striking but works. I couldn’t help but think how a confident, powerful female lead might have sounded against some of the songs here.
Upchurch immediately displays some of his production talent on the “Saint” as he blends clean guitars with synths, samples and delayed trip-hop beat. A little after the three-minute Upchurch breaks it down only to slowly build it back up. “Day by Day” may have the most experimental sounds on the album. The track contains a backward sounding helicopter effect that sounded similar to the music you heard on the Radiohead song “Like Spinning Plates.” Upchurch delivers one of his strongest vocal performances, as the melody is awfully catchy. Other instruments such as guitar and bass find good placement in the song adding to the overall ambience.
“Right Where You Want Me” is a chill tune that lies somewhere between DJ Shadow and Portishead while “For the Sake of the Story” has a deep, prominent bass that you want to make sure you have your subs on for. Upchurch closes with “Root For You,” which maybe his most creatively impressive piece of production. The guitar part is an integral part of the mix as it blends into a chugging percussive and overlapping leads.
Coyote Fairgrounds may not be the catchiest thing you have heard this year but the production is often good if not great. There are still some loose ends Upchurch can tighten up but overall there is a lot to enjoy with this release.
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