The delectable pop-art EP “Seedy MX” from The TBD is the brainchild of Thompson Davis IV. Who is Thompson Davis? After a few spins of the music and some internet sleuthing, I still couldn’t answer that question entirely, so I had to be an actual person and reach out directly. We had a phone conversation, remember those? It was great.
Thompson has been in Boston for two months all the way from Mexico City, where he made his bones with the band K Pasa USA. After touring Mexico with K Pasa and a subsequent band breakup, his musical adventures led him to the solo project “Seedy MX” as The TBD and eventually to our world in Boston. He’s here: An artist, poet, songwriter, producer in the Cambridge area looking for that community vibe, the one that nurtures the creative life. Thompson is not the loner in a home studio leaking records on the internet. He is the opposite, and his collaborative journey this time around took him inward to make “Seedy MX” with Jacob Rosati co-mixing and producing.
The album opens with “Half Mask.” Organic sounds of birds chirping meet a fumbling, punchy synth line. The bass is clean and played like slow grease from a griddle against a cutting drum machine snare. Acoustic guitars glue the organic to the electronic as the talk-singing of a vocalist ponders in existential crisis mode: “Cast off the cape/tear at the fringe/wash off the glitter … but I’m wearing this half mask/baiting you in/Is it enough?”
“Half Mask” moves like a hip-hop groove through slow water. The elasticity of the bass line gives it a funky undertone. With the laid back David Byrne-esque vocals over top, it makes for a truly fresh dose of pop.
I asked Thompson how he chooses his sounds, especially in the endless-option world of solo-electro music.
“I try to exercise restraint. … I’m kind of the guy who wants to put everything on each track. … As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate dynamics … making sure everything is deliberate. “Deliberate” is the essential word. “Half Mask” noises were inspired by co-producer Jacob Rosati’s love of field recordings. It’s a very dry mix, so inserting those sounds gave it an airiness that the listener can lock into.”
The second track, “American Music,” wastes no time and the hook bangs in with those slippery acoustic guitars pumping throughout. The track plays like a Petty pop rocker with the charming quirk of the Talking Heads.
Elaborating on the track, “American Music” Thompson referred to a sentiment of his old band, K Pasa USA breaking up. There also is this underlying Morrissey-esque theme: feeling kind of useless and listless trying to finding purpose in the societal sexual ideal while and trying to spin off that feeling into sexual braggadocio.
The next track, “Men II Boyz,” features some of my favorite lyric writing to date. The vibe comes down as if Thompson after a few beers whispers a tale of reminiscence in a dimly lit bar. The song tackles age and aging and what it means to be a number and whether that has any value in the world of art and music.
The chorus hits with: “Sixty’s the new sixteen, sixty is the new forty-five, twenty-three is still twenty-three, thirty is the new fifteen/It’s the new fifteen.”
By the time the hook repeats “It’s the new fifteen” over and again, it’s too catchy not to croon along in a comfortable register. We’re then met with a one-two-punch of hooky goodness as a guitar lead line in signature Isley Brothers bent takes the taste buds into the land of savory.
When this song came up in our phone convo, Thompson said something that should resonate with all the readers of the Hassle: “Music above all artistic disciplines fetishizes youth the most.” “Men II Boyz” is summed up in that sense. As we get older, we may feel silly for hunkering down with our art in an industry pimping out pretty faces, but no matter what age we are, we’ve got something to say. And hell, if we stick with our craft, usually we can churn out more deliberate (there’s that word again) and realized visions like Thompson has done on this EP. Can I get an amen?
“The Old New York” continues on a path of reminiscence but takes it to the fuzz factory. A pounding minor bass line pumps to the shouts of “The old New York was so much better!” We get mentions of Trash Bar and CBGB and myriad of other NYC staples. You can almost smell the cheap beer and pine-sol cleaner in a montage of glorified NYC grime. This one is the most in-your-face rock ’n’ roll on “Seedy MX.” There is an awareness and a sort of smirk in the vocal delivery that seems to prey on the attitude of the dinosaurs who think the greatness of NYC is gone.
In Thompson’s words: “People in charge of music media look at old New York as sacred but depending on what generation you’re from …” Can I get another amen?
Another killer line: “They talk about you like you were the father who went out for milk and never came back. They talk about you like some former lover who promised the world and never came back.”
“Mezcal and Soda” provides an electronic groove lasting all of a minute and 48 seconds serving as a boozy vignette into the romance of The TBD’s favorite beverage.
“New Stuff” features a slightly filtered funk bass line in slow drawl to provide a bed for more laid-back vocals. This is the first track that features an acoustic drum sound and serves as a roll-credits outro for the record, laying us down easy.
Thompson and The TBD on this record “Seedy MX” is full of storytelling. Aside from the intelligent pop design and ear candy, the lyrics really got my head going. Perhaps it’s the ease with which the vocals are delivered. The effortless talk-singing made a train of images roll through my brain. Ear worms of pop brilliance met with stimulating stories and imagery is the six tracks of “Seedy MX” by The TBD. Be sure to give the record a spin, and for a further look into Thompson’s artistry, check out his old band, K Pasa USA. Expect some live show date announcements as early as this November right here in Boston.