As you may well have noticed by this stage we here at HMCMB tend to focus on new music. That is not to say that we completely neglect established artists, after all our primary criterion for selecting music is simply that we like it, and wish to share it. That is however tempered with an awareness that there’s not much point in telling people things they already know, and as such most of the acts we bring to you could be said to be fairly new/unknown. We won’t delve to deeply into what exactly makes an artist “new”, in today’s day and age it’s rare that you’re ever going to be the first entity to hear or even feature a particular act. And frankly the ego-massaging contest of who spotted who first is of little interest to us, we’d rather take the time to build a considered and informed opinion, and at the end of the day we aren’t going to avoid writing about a band because someone else already as. The reason for this somewhat rambling start are the guys sitting atop this piece, “French Wives” a glasweigan 5 piece produce the kind of soaring uplifting music that plays no small part in helping to brighten up times such as the grey winter we currently find ourselves in the midst of. They also happen to have an album coming out, “Dream Of The Inbetween”, on the 7th May and have recently released “Younger”, a free track from said album that will be available for download this time next week, so now seems as good a time as any to introduce them.
“French Wives” came to our attention via “The Blog Sound Of 2012″ a poll set up alongside the BBC’s equivalent, in which they finished fourth, indicating that there is a significant crowd in the blogosphere that are expecting big things from them in the coming 12 months. Having enjoyed their recent single I began dutifully trawling the web for more. Almost immediately I came across several gems, ranging from the surreal serenity of “Halloween” (released back in 2009) to the gripping passion of “Big Brave Boy” (2011). Thankfully in the 3 year gap between these two tracks the band have been far from idle, with an EP, a couple of singles, and a free 8 track release. Unfortunately this leaves the rather difficult task of choosing where exactly to start, near on a score of tracks is rather too many to cover at anytime, let alone in what is essentially meant to be an introducing piece. As such it seems wise to cover the three tracks that had me so hooked. Along with the latest release, which admittedly was unveiled long after I began drafting this post, hence the slightly disjointed nature.
“Covered In Grace” is a string fuelled, full bodied journey from love and admiration to loss and regret. The triumphant choruses of the opening minutes climax with combination of violin, onbeat guitar and vocal harmonies. Celebration is replaced by yearning in the stripped back breakdown that follows, with pining vocals “Don’t say its sink or swim” gliding atop the strings. It is those very strings that play such an integral part in “Halloween”. Far more mellow in its opening, simple fluid guitar and pensive violin contrasting with the rich, husky vocal, and unnerving in its lyricism “As I kiss you under a severed head”. Still present however is that mid-piece mood transformation. This time its xylophone twinkle followed by instrumentation racked up to it’s most powerful with angst ridden vocals reigning supreme, “I have been exhausted since the moment we met”. “Big Brave Boy” has a somewhat cheerier feel to it, greeting you with hand claps and warm vocal harmonies. The piece has an immediate sense of urgency provided by the hurried lyricism and hectic orchestral backdrop. Whereas the previous two tracks saw pace and emotion rising and falling “Big Brave Boy” is simply a joyous romp through 3 minutes of fine craftsmanship.
Recent release “Younger” is yet another anthemic ode. A glorious 5 minutes of the same peaks and troughs albeit with a slightly different feel to it, which hints at exciting prospects for the album. On this occasion the strings are rather pushed to the background, but any gap that that may have left in the quirky charm of the soundbed is more than filled by the honeyed vocal harmonies. Equal credit should go to the solo that see the track to its close, with vocals rising above the triumphant guitar alongside which the violin proves the perfect accompaniment. If “French Wives” can manage to maintain this kind of accessable quality throughout the album, as past releases suggest they will, then we may well have found a fine soundtrack to our summer… We will be sure to let you know nearer the time.
French Wives – Covered In Grace
French Wives – Halloween
French Wives – Younger