Foz Sharoni – Feel Special!

 Foz Sharoni – Feel Special!

Foz Sharoni – Feel Special! – EP Review

This much I know…if you spot both Frank Ocean and Animal Collective in the same list of hashtags applied to an artist, band, song, or album – it’s pretty safe to say you’re in for a fully diverse experience in sound & style that could lead to theoretically ANYTHING coming through your speakers.  What’s even stranger is that after listening to this record, it makes a whole lot of sense somehow to see these names.

I also know this…you’re gonna like what you find on Feel Special! by Foz Sharoni.  Or at the very least, if you’re reading these pages and looking for the stuff I personally dig on, believe me when I say dear readers, dear friends – you’re gonna want to seriously turn this EP right up to the rafters loud n’ proud.  Fully admit, I had no idea exactly what I was going to find on this album, but man am I stoked I pushed play on this gem…this is a brilliant fusion of creativity, art, texture, ideas, imagination, & sound.  There’s not a single thing that’s typical about Feel Special!, yet at the same time, the incredible way these songs are designed provides a comforting uniqueness to the vibes of these songs that you don’t often experience.  Even if I’m not exactly sure WHAT it is yet…there’s something undeniable special happening here in the exploratory & expressive music of Foz Sharoni…I’m completely digging this record.

It takes less than five seconds for Foz to start delivering the kind of uniqueness my ears wanna hear.  When it comes to “Billboard Song (Intro)” – how do I put this?  Let’s just be clear – I was already pretty satisfied with the melted-tape sound of the opening thirty-seconds or so…but when the vocals come in to this song, SOMEHOW, Foz ends up taking this song straight out of the experimental realm and into verifiable single-worthy terrain that’s essentially universally accessible by every set of ears out there, not just my own.  The personality, character, and charisma leap into the microphone and bring “Billboard Song (Intro)” to the next-level & beyond any possible expectation you could have had or theory on where you originally thought this song would go.  It’s the kind of slick & sly, fresh-as-it-gets set of hooks that instantly confirms that Foz has not only got what it takes, but that he’s choosing to take these tracks in a different direction than just what you’d normally expect to find – most artists would have milked the bars he lays down on this cut into a full song without question.  Whether that’s professional or artistic restraint, or just flexing a quick demonstration of the kind of chops, style, and sound that would catch anyone’s attention…Sharoni immediately confirms 100% there’s an X-factor in the mix here.

This dude seriously gets how important the performance aspect is when it comes to the vocals.  Foz makes brilliant moves with his energy & melody throughout “Underwater/Pool No Water” amidst an entire sea of echoing voices and hooks bouncing off the walls from the lefts to the rights on this cut.  What really surprised me actually, was to see that the hit-count online for this cut was as high as it was in comparison to some of the rest of these tunes…at least at the page I was streaming this from; and while those results seemed much more awesome than I’d have anticipated – it also fills me with some hope that people will dig this EP as much as I do.  Tracks like “Underwater/Pool No Water” are just about as odd as music can be in multiple ways while still hanging on to just enough of a cohesive and tangible thread in the melody & movement to allow us to still ride along with an ingenious idea like this.  Songs like this are undeniably different than a ton of what’s out there – and the confident way that Foz continually approaches and commits to the wildest paths his music has taken him, how unafraid he is to explore sounds & styles that are so proudly off the radar of the mainstream…I think we’ve found a new champion of the underground scene here, and I’m stoked to have this dude rockin’ with the independents.  At least for now.  I have theories about what’s up here in Sharoni’s music…and I have the feeling that artists like this guy really don’t stay a secret from the masses for as long as they might think.

After the diversity on display in the first two tunes, there’s no doubt it’s best to expect the unexpected from Foz Sharoni.  “Desert Song” ends up pumping out what I’d probably argue is…well…I mean, it’s still odd enough to fit in with the rest of Feel Special! for sure, but structurally, hooks & melody-wise, you might find this cut to be the most ‘straight-ahead’ tune that you’ll find on this EP.  Like I said, still warped just enough to carry that signature Sharoni stamp on it…but yeah, more tangible here for the everyday listener, which could very well work out in his favor…probably the track most people out there could get behind no matter what genre or style they normally listen to.  Like I pointed out early on when we were talking about “Billboard Song (Intro)” earlier, whenever Foz WANTS to dip into the commercial pool or jump into the mainstream, it’s absolutely clear he’s got all the right moves & instincts to do it.  I have the feeling there’s something even more clever at work here though when I listen to a smooth groove & chill cut that’s as versatile, creative, and killer as “Desert Song” is…this is the kind of artist that doesn’t have to chase the spotlight – there’s a significant chance it’s gonna come right to him.  While it’s wildly different in sound from what Beck does, there’s a Beck-like humbleness, authenticity, and playful-creativity you could find in his earlier work…where you could first hear the seeds of innovation and invention sparking up into the blaze of imaginative tunes that would happen later on down the road.  Eventually, he went on to change the landscape of music significantly; he might have changed his own sound & style many times, but he never decidedly pursued the mainstream so much as we as listeners did our best to savagely pursue him – and I hear that same magnetic personality & massive potential in what Foz Sharoni is creating here.

Is the title-track going to fully make sense to every set of ears out there?  No!  Of course not.  I think it’d be foolish on my part to think that Foz wouldn’t know the obstacles that artistically designed music faces when it comes to the mainstream…I’m sure the dude’s well aware.  For the rest of us though…all us creative-types, music-makers, and late-nighters…I mean, c’mon…you AUDIOPHILES out there…you’re gonna find something, if not multiple somethings about a track like “Feel Special!” that you’ll dig, whether it’s the texture of the sounds you’ll hear, or the tone or effect they have on’em, or the innovative creativity you’ll find in how this structure is laid-out & flows.  There’s no doubt that Foz probably wanders & meanders off a bit far off the beaten path of what many listeners will typically accept here…but that’s never really the intention or ambition of creating art that’s different than the rest of what you’ll already find out there.  Like I said from the get-go, Foz Sharoni ain’t here to do anything that’s been done or make anything resembling what you typically know – this is a sincerely impressive effort to make that transition from mere music into a full-on sensory experience we can feel through the mind, body, heart, and soul.  I can fully accept that some out there will/won’t accept a track like “Feel Special!” or that there could be more polarizing results when it comes to the opinion on this particular track from the record, but at the same time, the overall mission that Foz has attempted here, has been wildly ambitious AND successful from beginning to end.  I’d argue “Feel Special!” is just as much of a part of why that is as the rest of these unique concepts & themes found throughout this set.  You’ve got two halves at work on this cut…both extremely on the creative & imaginative side of Foz’s set of songs on this record…you got old-school soul & experimentalism happenin’ during those first nearly three-minutes, and from there, a more bizarre, sleepy-synth crawl (with awesome piano in the background) and strange roam through a collective of sounds in the atmosphere takes over.  Avant-garde much?  Sure.  All that & more really.  Look, I mean, the obvious comment is that this ain’t the single by any stretch of the imagination or wildest hopes that could be had for an artistic endeavor like this.  Does it work?  It will for some, it’ll be tougher for others – but there’s no denying the uniqueness.

“Highway Song” is…probably not what you’d expect, but really, what has been at this point?  For a title you’d likely assume was gonna give you a typical driving song in return, “Highway Song” starts out much more like it’s going to head towards being a lullaby with its gorgeous melody floating through the atmosphere.  For me, this tune was by far one of the most impressive on a record full of really solid material – the way that Foz transitions & shifts this song’s structure, melody, and beat…is not only completely flawless, it’s pure sonic GOLD.  Not even remotely kidding, every ticking second reveals more magic in this cut…from the sweetened old-school vocal melody, to the breakbeat that comes on in to lend a hand, to the soulful shift in the vocals and some serious highlight moments from Foz on the mic – there’s all kinds of access points in this tune and the more you stick with it, the more there are.  For us audiophiles, no worries – Foz still has us covered; what can seem simple on the surface of this melody is comprised of some pretty damn cool & complex stuff goin’ on, with multiple elements in the mix really stacking up to one completely entertaining and transformative ride through this highly appealing cut.

Cuts like “Number Tower” are tunes I can only hope don’t get passed over or slept on.  For as subtle as it truly is, there’s a whole bunch of seriously rad stuff happening in both the ideas & mix on this tune.  I mean, I make no bones about a track like this, some are gonna love it as much as I do, others are gonna pass this one by…and as much as I hate to admit it, I get that & why that would be.  For some, “Number Tower” might not ever do quite enough to grab your attention, especially right after “Highway Song” just prior.  For others, it’s gonna be the complete opposite effect, where the serene tribal-chill of “Number Tower” and its stripped-down sound are going to make even more of an impact, providing a pensive space & silence to this EP that really hits the mark.  Do I personally wish that the way it builds around the two-minute mark kept on going down that road and exploring that beat?  OF COURSE I DO.  Do I fully understand by this point that Foz meters out the awesomeness in these tunes so that we’ll need it like oxygen and be virtually forced to come back to it all time & time again just to get to that fragment of one of these songs that’s stuck in our brains and get our fix on?  YES.  And whatever he’s doin’ to make all that happen, it’s working on me…I personally felt like “Number Tower” was one of the most inexplicably captivating tracks that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year.  I expect almost no one to feel quite as strongly attached to this as I do, but I can always hope for that to be the case; this song is probably more the exception than the rule when it comes to the sound of Sharoni overall, but it’s definitely another suit he wears extremely well.  I could listen to “Number Tower” all day long.  Weirdest lyrics to go along with it all too…it’s kind of a song that defies all typical logic – and for as remarkably chill as it is, this tune ends up making one of the biggest artistic statements on the record.

Can I just say that I LOVE the fact that Foz Sharoni and I seem to share the same addiction to that whole melted-melody effect in music?  “AC” gives us a dreamy final dose of that, while Foz shifts between different sounds, effects, and tones of voice as he sweetly rambles & sings this last song on Feel Special!.  Dig the energy, dig the vibe…the combination of the lethargic way Foz almost pushes these words out of his face and into the microphone gives this whole song a brilliantly expressive & artistic performance through the vocals that suits the swirling & slow-pulsing atmosphere of “AC” spot-freakin-on.  It’s almost like Foz is doing the Dandy Warhols overly-tripped-out sound even better than they do here – this final cut is definitely the kind of track you can lose yourself in.  And if you’re lucky, you might find yourself again…you might even come out more refreshed and a better version of yourself than before you started listening…how’s that for the good ol’ power of some real vitamin M(usic)?  It might be odd, but there is a decidedly uplifting feeling & sound that comes through the curiously beautiful atmosphere on “AC” – ultimately, it makes for a spectacular conclusion to the Feel Special! EP and a smooth exit out.

I’m not 100% sure which planet Foz Sharoni has come from…but I’m hella glad his music found its way to ours here.  The Feel Special! EP is a serious dive into creative freedom and highly vibrant expressionism – it’s a relentlessly inventive & imaginative record that maintains its artistic integrity from start to finish.

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