Back in the early 2000’s, there were a lot of artists that you could easily tell were being pushed to be the “next big thing” by their labels, and Custom was one of them. The Canadian-born singer and producer, whose real name is Duane Lavold, recorded and produced his debut album Fast (2001) in a studio he built with his father (he also received some assistance from Duncan Sheik on the album). The lead single from the album, “Hey Mister”, achieved some minor success, though the video was banned from MTV for silly reasons. Whether it was this which stunted his potential to hit the next level, or the mixed reaction to his music, it’s unclear but following the release of this album (which is not currently available on streaming services) Custom disappeared into obscurity.
While I can understand why “Hey Mister” would not be everyone’s favorite track, the album contained a number of good songs that could have been potential singles. The hopeful “One Day” still wins me over with its soaring hook, but the track that felt the most unique to the artist and his style was “Beat Me”. Melding rock, dusty alt country vocals and a smokey hip-hop delivery (think early Uncle Kracker), the track maintains a chill vibe throughout, even as Custom delivers like “I want to be the prayer answered when you meet me. The pain the bat the blood when you beat me”.
Self-immolation aside, the song’s chorus easily stuck in the head, and felt perfect for chill afternoons or long drives. While I hope the album makes it onto Spotify one of these days, it’s at least possible to find rips of it on YouTube.
I wish he had succeeded. His debut album, Fast, was underrated and really enjoyable to listen to. The songs are melodic, his voice sounds great, and the diversity of sounds is quite satisfying. “Beat Me” is a really unique track, but they’re all good. “Crawl”, One Day”, and “Daddy” are standouts as well. I always wonder why he didn’t succeed and what happened to him.
Agreed that album had a number of strong tracks. It may just have been the wrong time for a sound like his. We’ll never know, but as long as people remember his music, it will live on.
Gone too soon 😦