With news of the dwindling sales of the NME, and the possibility of it becoming as free and disposable as the Metro or The Evening Standard, we attempt to answer a question that has plagued music promotion companies for years: New Music – Where do you discover yours?
The printed media have become the lumbering dinosaurs of the music world. Purists, ourselves included, may still look forward excitedly to the release of the more high-end (and middle aged) publications such as Uncut or Mojo, but realistically it’s dead, it’s gone and it’s over. Print media’s day in the sun has gone, replaced by the all conquering internet. Why wait a week for the NME to tell you what records to buy when Pitchfork, The Line Of Best Fit or The 405 can keep up with the modern world? They’re the first place for music news, the first place to hear new tracks and the first place to publish reviews. Though what is their actual reach and influence? Still relatively small; whilst a good review on Pitchfork or a single promo on The Line Of Best Fit can make or break a small independent band, if you’re talking shifting huge units, then the main source of sales probably lies in something considerably more old fashioned.
We must admit that we didn’t think it would still be the case, but pop musicians remain slaves to the radio. There’s still no better list to be on than the Radio 1 playlist: get played 75 times a day on Heart and you’ll sell a lot of records, and in the alternative world 6 Music is still probably the biggest hitter at getting bands on tour, on festival bills and selling records. In a world where there’s so much music, having someone pick what you hear for you is still arguably most people’s method of consuming new music.
With broadsheets, blogs and emails from Spotify, there are so many ways to discover music now that it’s a miracle anyone knows where to start. Then, just sometimes you just stumble across a band in a sweaty, dark room. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you find the music – the good stuff will always find a way!
FRANCISCO THE MAN
Francisco The Man isn’t actually a man called Francisco but a four-piece band, consisting of singer and guitarist Scotty Cantino, bassist Néstor Romero, drummer Abdeel Ortega, and guitarist/ keyboard player Brock Woolsey.
Unsurprisingly for a band who started off as an instrumental group and have a strongly collaborative approach to song writing, they possess a varied and musically adventurous sound! Pulsing bass with an admiration for The Cure, effects heavy guitars that nod to both grunge and shoegaze in equal measure, persistent pounding drums and a largely yelped, impassioned vocal styling that brings to mind a grittier, angrier version of Alec Ounsworth from Clap Your Hand Say Yeah!
The band are from Los Angeles, the USA’s second biggest city. The so called “Creative Capital of the World” boasts an impressive one in six people working in creative industries, and although a lot of that is down to a certain borough synonymous with the film industy, it’s also a city with a rich musical heritage. Giving the world a diverse list of artists from The Beach Boys to Beck, Queens Of The Stone Age to Frank Zappa and No Age to NOFX. Basically whatever music you want, Los Angeles has pretty much got you covered!
Their debut album, Loose Ends (as far as we’re aware unrelated to the Radio 4 programme of the same name) came out in January this year on Fat Possum, and it’s fair to say that the band took their time to get there! Formed seven years ago as teenagers in an instrumental rock band, a debut EP arrived and a large number of the band members changed, before they settled on a line up and finally released their rather excellent debut album!
Francisco The Man echo the early noughties second-coming of college-rock bands, recalling the likes of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids, or even Death Cab For Cutie. However, they take that sound into new directions with nods to the modern-Americana sound of Horse Thief, Midlake‘s rockier moments or Band Of Horses.
In The Corners starts of with a frankly huge bass-line, reminiscent of The Pixies to the point where you fully expect Frank Black to come roaring in. It picks up further via some razor-sharp guitar licks, and the whole track crackles with a tremendous feeling of energy, before working its way to a delightful outro that’s pure 80’s jangle-pop – think Jesus & Mary Chain or The Cure, but even catchier!
Loaded may have a vocal melody reminiscent of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, but it’s infused with a bouyancy, spirit and energy that were entirely missing from that track. The single, It’s Not Your Fault, melds early Weezer with a huge shoegaze chorus as Scotty blasts out “it’s not your fault” and the instruments blur around him; gently pulsing in and out of the mix, before fading to a distant, disorientating outro full of echoing tape affects.
Progress is a stunning track built around a rapid bass-line, persistent Strokesish drum beat and beautiful jangling guitars. It possesses a fantastic chorus, as Scotty’s vocal soars suddenly to the very top of his impressive range and yelps the lyrics with great pace and intensity. The eight-minute epic In My Dreams, has the feeling of being on a long sun-swept road trip, with shades of Bruce Springsteen or Horse Thief’s excellent track Dead Drum.
The vocal sounds great to us but it’s not hard to imagine it being a slightly acquired taste; it’s certainly not the sound of a conventional rock singer. The music too, might make a few too many nods to the past for some people’s taste. However, there is more than enough going on to keep us interested, and it’s hard to argue that Loose Ends is anything but a triumphant culmination of seven years hard work, and a neat summary of American music trends over the last couple of decades.
Loose Ends is out now on Fat Possum Records. (with Small Plates handling the Vinyl release) Francisco The Man play London’s Sebright Arms on May 28th.