Hailing from Queens, Frog is the acclaimed, “cult wyrd-Americana indie band”, fronted by musical magpie, Danny Bateman. This month the band are set to release their fourth album, Count Bateman, a record which in Frog’s own words is equal parts Carole King, Jonathan Richman and The Silver Jews. That record is coming out as a collaboration between Audio Antihero and Danny’s own, “hippie commune label”, Tape Wormies, and today ahead of the release we’re sharing the video to new single, Black Friday.
Count Bateman is a record that arrives with a degree of enforced creativity, Danny bought a 1979 MX5050 tape-machine from one of The Antlers, then his drummer upped sticks for the UK, “I’m left jobless, drummerless, antlerless. I had to learn how to use tape machines, play drums, harmonica…”. The result of this obligatory re-writing of the Frog sound, Count Bateman is a record that see’s Danny push his songwriting in new directions, in fact he almost seems to have left his home city behind and taken a trip to the West Coast: “the setting of the record seems to be Southern California in the early 70s, and I’m the eccentric hawking his record to the executives walking from their cars”.
On Black Friday, you can truly hear all the joys of the analogue tape, the way the sounds are imprinted onto the iron-oxide, and come out sounding subtly, intriguingly different to what you put into it. The result here is an amalgam of Elliot Smith-like bedroom-pop, viewed through a rosier lens. A track where deliciously bright-guitar lines, meld with the spirited slap of drums and a spectacularly good keyboard-line, which bounces like The Cure, then takes a headlong dive into Lionlimb-like experimentation. The subtle layering throughout is spectacularly good, a song that seems to have a true depth to it, swelling deep into the speakers range and filling the room, without ever going into cliched loudness.
If musically, Black Friday see’s Frog heading off in new directions, lyrically it seems to be undeniably looking back. Danny seems to take us back to his formative years, still wondering if his teenage-crush might want to get a drink: “Do you wanna get a drink with me? In this country we go tat for tat, wasted bumming a cigarette. Do you wanna sit and sing to me? Name dogs after all the boys you slept with in 8th grade. Name songs after all the shit I used to hear you say”.
Count Bateman, as well as an experimentation in sound, is equally an experiment in loneliness, an attempt, as Danny puts it, “to wear all the hats”, All the record’s characters are just different parts of Danny’s mind, different conjuring experiments laid to tape, with an end result of a record that is made entirely in the image of its creator, and couldn’t sound any better for it. Check out the video below and read on for Director Alex Coppola’s take on the accompanying video.
“We walked out to Carl Schurz Park with no plan, no sunscreen, and a free app that allows you to play with the speed of a track. We finished three hours later with sunburns, a cracked phone, and a bunch of shaky footage. Danny danced, I shot, and my brother walked behind me making sure I didn’t fall up/down stairs or run into a car/child/bench. Did it work? Sort of. Did we have a good time? Absolutely. And honestly, there’s nothing more ‘frog’ than that.”
Count Bateman is out August 16th via Audio Antihero / Tape Wormies. Click HERE for more information on Frog.