New Artist Highlight: Misplaced American is not misplaced with a tongue in your cheek. Thanks, Miss America.
Nashville-based musician Chris E. Kelly named his electrical project Lost American because he was an expat in Spain at the time and had wandered Europe and Asia for years. Now that he’s returned to his hometown, he seems to be keeping the nickname. After all, it is a “lost” time for America.
Aside from making potential sociopolitical statements, Kelly has turned Lost American into a modern take on electro house with lots of synths, dead vocals and ravey collabs. Think Nashville’s answer to Roxy Music, The Pet Shop Boys and The Human League with a bit of German techno and pop-EDM cascade-style, or maybe just a “Sirius” version of Gil Mantera’s early ’00s party dream. It’s internationally nostalgic, powerful and fun at the same time.
The last couple of tracks on Lost American, while all unapologetically synth-heavy, vary quite a lot in style and content, especially when the remixes are involved. “Let’s Stay Outside” is a slow, thoughtful and ambitious heartbreaker of a track whose original mix uses deep, industrial bass and future bass backings to lift the thoughtful vocals from the monotonous to the sublime. This track has two remixes and Kelly was certainly smart about using this tactic of remixing his work. The wide-open composition and synths of the original tracks are really suitable for remixing and force the listener to hear the vocals differently and not for nothing to make them accessible to a wider audience.
The first remix was made by Stash Konig, a breakout EDM artist, who gave “Let’s Stay Outside” a definite dance floor spin that will surely catch the ears of the festival audience but at the same time really preserves the feel of the original. Lee Groves’ “tetraphobe” mix follows the lines of the original, but adds even more punchy deep bass and distortion to really accentuate the emotional feel of the track. All three mixes are technically masterful and perfectly stimulating.
“Robot Spark” also has two mixes, the remix being made by a Rauch von König, apparently another name for Stash Konig (if the promo has something to offer). The Roxy Music rubber really hits the vintage synth street in this track as both mixes combine that kind of long-lasting ambient work with a new wave-style keyboard melody. Von König stuck to the lines this time and provided the track with the 80s synthesizers that match the funny lyrics of the atomic age. Kelly made a mini documentary video for this track, but it’s more like a cheeky director’s cut of the actual video, in which Kelly explains everything that goes on when images of his band flash in the background. He apparently gets sick at some point and he dances around like a GenX dad who goes to Trainspotting’s disco. Both versions are great fun.
He updated the Lost American releases and released “Thank You Miss America” today. If you have wondered whether we have pulled the theory “America is lost” out of our entirety, do not wonder anymore. Both the video and the song are heavily loaded with political commentary and can you really blame Kelly? Imagine playing music abroad for almost 20 years and then coming back to it. Talk about culture shock.
Musically, “Thank You Miss America” is stylistically so close to Kelly’s own description of his latest work: “I call it Southern Gothic Electronic: a modern version of what triggers passions in the deep south.” Well said, as this track has this great call and-response voice quality with drawn out vowels and high notes that are about to start a yodel. Although many unusual instrumental works and electronic productions can be seen in the background, you can feel the swamp of the deep south here.
There’s not much to say about the video other than “check it out,” but Kelly probably made it before the January 6th events, so it’s eerily prophetic. Or some may hope that it is prophetic, that is, how in the end (spoilers) an animated Trump will be thrown off the planet. We hope Kelly and his animator are psychic.
With an extremely diverse and open-minded style, an apparent mastery of production and songwriting, and the necessary work with some great remixers, this may not be the last time the EDM world has seen Lost American. In fact, the remix of “Thank You Miss America” has not yet been released. So suffice it to say that we will at least have more thought-provoking bangers on our hands shortly. Lost American combines genres, eras and literal oceans with his work and is anything but lost in this day and age.
All of the tracks discussed above are available now and can be streamed along with many other Lost American tracks on Spotify. Also check out Kelly’s YouTube channel as there are interesting videos for almost every title he’s released in the past year.