Custom: Fast (ARTISTDirect BMG)

Some CDs burst onto the scene loudly, announcing their presence in no uncertain terms: “I want your attention, fuckers; check this out right now!”

Some CDs come out quietly, whispering, “Hi, I’m out here, would you, um, care to give me a listen?” Others burst onto the scene loudly, announcing their presence in no uncertain terms: “I want your attention, fuckers; check this out right now!” It is into this latter category we must put Custom, a 6-foot-8 New York City loft resident, extreme athlete, filmmaker, and now musician-producer who’s just released his debut, Fast. It’s a hopped-up blend of Beck-like stylistic leaps, hip-hop outbursts, and eccentric, unpredictable (at times) instrumentation that reveals Custom to be an artist not to be dismissed lightly. The chap has served up a splashy, in-your-face album much like the Gorillaz’ debut was, and despite some abrasive elements and a few jugheaded lyrical passages, Fast ends up being a mostly listenable album. Custom has loads of energy, and the excitement he obviously feels about making music is palpable in the thick grooves and wide-ranging production of this recording.

Getting airplay already (as well as controversy; MTV has banned the video) is the song “Hey Mister,” in which Custom imagines a dialogue with the father of a babe with whom he intends to get his groove on: “Hey mister I really like your daughter/I’d like to eat her like ice cream/Maybe dip her in chocolate/Hey mister, on your way to work/In your Volvo suit and tie/We’ll be crawling in your bed soon/Messing around maybe getting high.” At the end he unexpectedly adds, “I hope I never have a daughter,” revealing his deeper understanding of the difficult and contrasting feelings of desire and protectiveness that most males end up facing. A little-girl chorus of “Na na na na na” and the catchy tempo-shifting tune help make this track, which is half dopey and half provocative, rather memorable.

Other interesting songs include “Streets” (the story of “an assassin falling in love with his hit”), which contrasts verses of hard rap-rock with acoustic instrumentation and a rather poignant repeating chorus of “I oh why”; the loser anthem “Mess,” which is part Beck, part Pavement, and very catchy with its background keyboards, light orchestration, and semi-humorous teen self-pity lyrics (“I’m a messed up kid/With a messed up head/Driving this wreck of a life/Through all the yellows and reds”); “May 26,” a surprisingly low-key and emotive number about a broken relationship, documenting Custom in a clear moment of melancholy introspection, singing lower and more quietly than usual; the sturdy, nicely arranged “One Day,” a someday-I’ll-grow-up song, and “120,” an ode to existential angst adorned by eerie background synth whistling and featuring the kind of lyrics that anyone who’s been depressed and lonely late at night with a drink in hand can surely relate to.

Custom would appear, at a casual glance, to be the type of testosterone-laden rocker that one would expect to recycle awful macho-rock cliches and gear his entire presentation to serve his own, obviously large ego. But Fast proves that’s not the case; this guy is making musical choices and crafting his compositions in a manner that shows that producing diverse, interesting platters is definitely on his agenda. He’s no genius, but this Custom-made debut makes a strong case for this hyperactive New Yorker as a bold new talent to be reckoned with.

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