Chris Staples is an indie rock singer/songwriter/guitarist who got his professional start as a teenager in Pensacola, Florida. He's released multiple solo albums, but is also known for his work in the bands Twothirtyeight, Discover America, and Telekinesis. His solo debut, 2004's Blackest Hair, Bluest Eyes, married introspective lyrics and moody melodies with a scrappy attack informed by punk and garage rock, but ten years later, American Soft was a more subtle and carefully crafted exercise in indie folk. 2016's Golden Age took the more modest feel of American Soft and added a bit more polish and some pop inflections in the songwriting and production, while 2019's Holy Moly added some dance-friendly rhythms on its title cut.
Staples co-founded the Florida alt-rock/Christian punk band Twothirtyeight in 1995, serving as lead singer and guitarist. The group released a few EPs before their bass player, Kevin Glass, was killed in a car accident in 1997. After regrouping from the tragedy, the lineup of Staples, Owen Grabo, DJ Stone, and Kevin Woerner signed with Takehold Records, which released their full-length debut, Missing You Dearly, in 1999. The album was dedicated to Glass. Regular lineup changes followed, as did the 2000 EP Matter Has a Breaking Point (without Grabo) and the LP Regulate the Chemicals (with Jake Brown on bass). Their final album, You Should Be Living, appeared in 2002 without Stone or Brown. The remaining group decided to go their separate ways in 2003.
The following year, Staples released a solo album on the Makebreak label. Titled Blackest Hair, Bluest Eyes, it collected previously self-released solo material along with two unreleased songs. He then relocated to Seattle, Washington and founded the more singer/songwriter-influenced indie rock outfit Discover America. Essentially a solo project, he recorded its debut album, Psychology, at his home studio. It was released by Tooth & Nail Records in 2005, and an eponymous EP followed in 2007. The sophomore LP, Future Paths, appeared in 2010 on Lujo Records. That same year, he put out another album as Chris Staples; Badlands was inspired by the Terrence Malick film of the same name.
In the meantime, the musician joined the Michael Lerner-led band Telekinesis as guitarist. They issued the albums Telekinesis! and 12 Desperate Straight Lines in 2009 and 2011, respectively, before Staples left the group. Twothirtyeight then reunited briefly in 2012 for an appearance at the Deluna Festival in Florida. Back on his own, Staples finished work on another solo LP. Moving further into the realm of indie singer/songwriter, the intimate American Soft arrived via Barsuk in 2014. He followed it with 2016's Golden Days, a reference to moving forward from an idealized past. 2019's Holy Moly, recorded in bits and pieces over the space of a year in Staples' garage, took the indie folk surfaces of Golden Days and incorporated a few more pop accents, including a rhythmic groove on the title cut. ~ Marcy Donelson