Artist Spotlight

Review: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, “A Man Alive”

No Comments 7 February 2016

Review: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, “A Man Alive”

“There aren’t enough good things to say about A Man Alive. It’s a hearty, infectious musical experience that acts as a showcase for Thao Nguyen’s brand of all-in intensely artistic ingenuity. There isn’t a single note that feels out of place even when it gets a little wonderfully weird from track to track. And trust me, you haven’t heard this one before.”

Artist: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

Album: A Man Alive

Genre: Rock

RIYL: Tame Impala, Jenny Lewis, Kishi Bashi

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive

If you know what’s good for you, you should really get down with Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. This musical project and live band is led by the fantastically glorious Thao Nguyen, a woman who seems to have energy and creativity to spare, and who throws herself wholeheartedly into every live performance I’ve every witnessed. Their most recent album, 2013’s We The Common was a critical success, and for good reason. But what I find truly exciting is the evolved sound and vision Thao expresses on A Man Alive, which is a clear celebration of finding a sense of place and purpose wherever you happen to be.

For Thao, that places happens to be San Francisco. And her decision to take a break from the road and what seems to be a constant schedule of live performances to focus on just being and living has worked its way into every crevice of this album. She has a very clear and unwaveringly unique way of looking at the world, just slightly askew, and transforms this into provocative and thoughtful music. There appears to be an unending well of lyrical and musical inspiration at work on A Man Alive, and we are all the beneficiaries of Thao’s ability to harness her creative exuberance in such a focused way.

“Nobody Dies” is a triumph of a song; and one that’s not easily ignored for its brilliance. It’s a powerfully potent blend of rhythm and melody, and exemplifies the uncommon and fierce character of this record. The natural groove and flow of “Guts” is another standout on a record full of fantastically twisty tunes. Thao’s distinctive vocals stand out in such a a beautiful, impassioned performance. “Fool Forever” is yet another wickedly wonderful performance that walks the line between soul, rock, and spoken word. “Millionnaire” follows to complete a mid-album microcosm of musical goodness that delivers more imagination and vision than any one artist should be allowed to possess. I could not stop listening to this four track roll on repeat.

This isn’t to say the bookends on either side are slouching either. A Man Alive is loaded with arrangements and melodies that seem so natural and easy, but their complexity and source of originality could provide a clinic for other songwriters to aspire to. Opener “Astonished Man,” “Give Me Peace,” and closer “Endless Love” showcase Thao’s unrestrained spirit and intensity in interesting ways, sometimes subdued but always bubbling under with fervor.

There aren’t enough good things to say about A Man Alive. It’s a hearty, infectious musical experience that acts as a showcase for Thao Nguyen’s brand of all-in intensely artistic ingenuity. There isn’t a single note that feels out of place even when it gets a little wonderfully weird from track to track. And trust me, you haven’t heard this one before. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down make music that’s cool, original and far more clever than should be possible. Another must-listen from a career musician that continues to push her and our boundaries with every outing.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: http://www.thaoandthegetdownstaydown.com/

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