In a city that thrives on its diversity, sun-soaked California indie-soul band Midtown Social unites a fractured San Francisco undergoing swells of monumental change with an uplifting and outright funky new full-length studio album, Fantastic Colors, due out nationwide on Valentine’s Day 2020. Midtown Social is of the fabric of San Francisco with its members representing the wide swathes of what makes the city so extraordinary. For its latest studio recording co-produced by Jeff Kolhede (Money Mark, Rayana Jay), Midtown Social writes a love letter to its hometown amid a perilous time when reverence is essential for collective healing. Drastic income disparity, sky-rocketing rents, profound homelessness, acute drug abuse, among other critical issues, are rendering the city unrecognizable. On Fantastic Colors, Midtown Social offers a compassionate reflection of its true love for San Francisco.
A collection of 14 original songs, vocalists Kisura Nyoto and Aaron Joseph speak truths on Fantastic Colors to the empowerment that arises from bringing together communities through inclusivity, authenticity, and acceptance. With the band’s unflinching pocket groove of Richard “RJ” Julia (drums), Sarah Beth (bass), Adam Rubinger (percussion) along with backing vocalist Whitney Moses as its foundation, Nyoto and Joseph deliver glass-shattering vocal performances intermixed with a sultry, chic R&B aesthetic on Fantastic Colors.
In anticipation of the February 14, 2020 release of Fantastic Colors, Midtown Social dropped two singles in 2019 that were premiered with Billboard.com, PopMatters, and Instinct Magazine (“Fantastic Colors” and “Savoir Faire”). In early 2020, Midtown Social releases two new singles “Candlelit” (January 17) and “Play Your Game” (February 14) featured on Fantastic Colors. For song descriptions of the four singles as well as the remaining tracks on the album, please see below.
“This song is about the chase that happens at the beginning of any relationship. There’s always someone in the relationship who begins as the prize. This song is our ode to the excitement of romantic pursuance, the delicious flirtation of a first attraction and the beginning of what could maybe…just maybe…be love.” – Kisura Nyoto
Midtown Social — Fantastic Colors — Featured Compositions
A prelude to Fantastic Colors, Midtown Social’s opening burner “Born To Dream” is a soulful escape encouraging listeners to let go and explore the diverse array of colors that comprise the city they call home, San Francisco. “Savoir Fare” calls out contemporary culture’s obsession with technology and its overuse of smartphones and computers in social situations. An ’80s rock-synth vibe gets an update from Midtown Social’s soaring strings and programmed keyboards while Aaron Joseph advocates for club-goers to put down their phones and get up on the dance floor. Midtown Social filmed an electrifying music video for “Savoir Fare” onsite at San Francisco’s famous queer venue The Stud.
“Move Your Body” takes its cue from late 1970’s disco with Midtown Social easing inhibitions and letting listeners embrace their sexuality while dancing at a club. “Darte” keeps in pace with these upbeat bangers while addressing the extreme vulnerability that can result from exposing one’s true self to a romantic partner. Being brave and leaving insecurities in the dust, “Darte” celebrates the joy of feeling loved.
The breakout title track “Fantastic Colors” — a co-write between Nyoto and Joseph — has friendship at the heart of an exploration down San Francisco’s city streets. A joyous snapshot of friends simply walking together discovering the intricacies of various neighborhoods, “Fantastic Colors” is a lesson in the overwhelming submission to the moment. Floating around the city with a close friend — which are increasingly more difficult to find — welcomes a state of euphoria. “Fantastic Colors” is an ode to the fundamental role friends play while struggling to survive while facing the ever-increasing pressures of living in San Francisco.
“Wild Child” ends the youthful innocence at the heart of Fantastic Colors as it reflects the darker sides of life in San Francisco. After the honeymoon period of when people initially move to the city, one’s senses are awakened to the reality of the emotional bankruptcy that’s festering on the city streets. At the end of the day though, Midtown Social pays homage to its hometown for its uncanning ability to bring people together from all walks of life.
“What It Is” harnesses beauty in the places where it can be found. With hope and optimism, Midtown Social never gives up fighting for what it believes and ceases worrying about the things they can’t change. Nyoto then digs in with a sassy and downright seductive telling of what it’s like picking up a guy who’s playing hard to get on “Play Your Game.” When one’s intentions and interests are disguised, Nyoto has no hesitation playing the game to allure a man.
“Crossroads” lays down the funk with a deep backbeat and horn section counterpointing Nyoto’s striking narrative targeting the power of surveillance on our lives. “Crossroads” foreshadows a societal reconciliation that must be had to protect our personal data and create the infrastructure necessary to control it.
“Home” confronts the climate crisis as the greatest unspoken truth of our generation. Joseph offers an incredibly impassioned performance while belting “we have only ourselves to blame…do you ever worry about her?” before Midtown Social erupts into the melodic noise needed to wake people up into caring enough to help save the planet. “Golden Child” was written in direct response to the child refugee crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. While we lock children up and chain them down, someday their light will shine.
A writing collaboration between drummer Julia, Nyoto and Joseph, “Candlelit” is a song of hope inspired by one of downtown SF’s most dire intersections at 6th Street & Natoma Street where Julia has resided for the past decade. Its lyrics ignite a message of encouragement to help fellow neighbors who are down on their luck and build towards a better future for generations to come. On the chorus, Midtown Social jointly sings the poignant line with GRAMMY Award-nominated Alphabet Rockers, “We are all one people, different from the last, working toward our future, to build a better past.” Nyoto channels “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin for a truly standout vocal performance on “Candelit.”
In times of extreme divisiveness, “Everybody” sets Midtown Social ablaze, firing on all cylinders with a collective call to celebrate one another’s differences rather than allowing them to further distance us. Fantastic Colors closes with the anthem, “Believe.” To all the dreamers, Midtown Social encourages them to not hold back and put into action everything that they support the most. Joseph sings, “believe in what you say, have faith in what you do.”