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Aaron Lee Tasjan | Stellar Evolution (new album)

Nashville-based singer-songwriter and musician Aaron Lee Tasjan crafts a captivating cosmic soundscape on his latest album, Stellar Evolution. Packed full of wildly addictive melodies and infectious hooks, this is an album that is defined by no single musical genre. Stellar Evolution is an eclectic sonic voyage that artfully blends a variety of musical genres and instrumentation throughout. You will hear elements of psychedelia, country, 70's rock, indie rock, and folk, along with well-placed synth-based, electronic embellishments.

From a thematic perspective, Stellar Evolution is one of Aaron's most honest and vulnerable album releases. Lyrically, these are songs that deal with overcoming challenges and embracing the inevitability of change. Speaking to the origins of the album's title, Aaron explains, "Stellar evolution is the process by which a star changes over the course of time. It's also the name of my exciting new album about the ways in which we change over time. We all have to face change in our lives and go through many evolutions in the span of our lifetime."

After moving to Ohio with his family in his early teens, Aaron realized that he was queer. It would be some time before he would be comfortable sharing this with his family and friends. Aaron's music career took hold when he moved to Brooklyn, recording and performing with the band Semi Precious Weapons, before exiting to form his own band, The Madison Square Gardeners.

As Aaron was writing Stellar Evolution, times became very dark for the queer community in the South. He had moved to Nashville in 2013 to focus on songwriting and to pursue a solo career. In recent years, bathroom bans and drag bans were being enacted in Tennessee, while right-wing rhetoric around LGBT people became uglier and uglier. Aaron knew that the new album needed to reflect the vibrant community that had become home to him.

Stellar Evolution invites the listener on a journey that encourages them to lose themselves and be themselves in its cosmic embrace. Opening track "Alien Space Queen" kicks this stellar journey off with its synth-driven vibe and colorful lyrical theme about an alien space queen that may one day come to rule our world and bring peace ("She drives an old Trans Am | In sunset gold yeah | She's Trans Femme | A Demigirl dream | She's my friend | From a galaxy far away").

Every track on this album is spectacular and unique, but my favorites are "Dylan Shades," "The Horror Of It All," and "I Love America Better Than You."

The upbeat and melodic "Dylan Shades" builds to its infectious, synth-glistened chorus, with a lyrical theme that reminisces on high school days and how the mystery around a secret love interest can capture one's heart. "It's a love song for sure but it's no idealized version of love," Aaron comments on social media. "It explores the ways in which we look at love based on age, orientation, and past experience. It's one of my favorite songs I've ever written."

On social media, Aaron comments that "The Horror Of It All," one of the first single releases preceding the album, speaks to "... the fear of being yourself when who you are is something that can be really kind of stigmatizing for people when they encounter it sometimes. I think much less so today... I wanted to make 'The Horror Of It All' a song that reflected that fear but also the wonderment of the magic that happens when you finally do step into your true self and embrace who you are."

In "I Love America Better Than You," we find a unique blend of musical arrangements and genres in a little ditty that would perfectly fit into an alternate/satirical version of the 70's Schoolhouse Rock educational video series. For some, this track might even become a permanent musical accompaniment for Independence Day celebrations to come. Melodically, when you strip away the musical arrangements, this is pure handclapping, toe-tapping Country. The vibrant, rich synth production on this is brilliant and presents this infectious earworm in the most creative and fresh way, accompanied by an in-your-face, unrestrained, and unapologetic lyrical theme.

As Stellar Evolution unfolds for the listener, the sonic shift across its songs is unique, yet unified, forming a cohesive whole that shines bright and is greater than the sum of its parts.

We end this post with a look at the official music video for "The Horror Of It All," created by Curtis Wayne Millard, featuring special guest appearances from rock ’n roll songwriter, Jon Latham, legendary East Nashville photographer, videographer, activist and art director, Stacie Huckeba, and the God of Garage Pop herself, Ricki!

Aaron comments on the video: "The video, shot in Nashville, TN at various locations, depicts the story of a young person, an outsider at their high school in a small town, who forms a garage band of misfits to find that in the end, their collective power of community allows them to vanquish the town bully (played by Curtis Wayne Millard)! Rock’n’Roll saves lives, my funky friends! The video has the look and feel of a classic Friday night rental from Blockbuster! Now all we gotta do is call Dominos! Shout out to the great Michael J Fox for the inspiration!"

For more information about Aaron Lee Tasjan, visit his official website, follow the artist on social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) and listen on SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music.

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