I’ve come across a lot of music, films, and things on the internet over the years in random moments, while not looking for anything in particular. I seem to have a strange knack for finding things I like without really trying — a convenient accidental skill to have when you haven’t actively listened to the radio in a decade and don’t watch much television or keep up with a whole lot of what’s going on in the world.
Recently I came across a band called Francis and the Lights. I don’t know much about them aside from the information available on their website and Myspace page, but they offer their entire first EP (plus some B-sides, demos and live performances) as a free download on their site. That’s what I like to see. It doesn’t hurt that the music is good. I’ve been especially digging the first track, “Striking”.
Sounds like something I might have heard in one of my dreams if Peter Gabriel kicked Prince out of his own band mid-concert and took over for a spastic, sweaty, spontaneous performance that whipped the audience into a frenzy (and just because I haven’t dreamt it yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen someday). It makes me feel like dancing — and not much of anything makes me feel like dancing, ever since that traumatic experience in grade seven when my best friend stole my best dance move (the celebrated “Johnny Shuffle”) that won me the “Dance King” title the previous year and proceeded to dethrone me.
The dance-off came down to just the two of us in the end, and his slightly modified version of my shuffle won the hearts of everyone present. I did dance with a lot of girls, though, so it wasn’t a total wash. And we laugh about it today. But you wouldn’t be laughing if you saw me unleashing the Johnny Shuffle back then. I was a force to be reckoned with.
Looks like Francis is working on his own version of the Johnny Shuffle in that picture up there. Maybe I was more influential than I realized (I kid). I was also a child of the eighties, so squealing synths will always hold some appeal for me no matter how obscure my taste in music might become, especially when they’re used well.
So, if you think you’d be into something that sounds some sort of delicious funk/soul hybrid from the 1960s, displaced in time and warped into something new that seems at once familiar and foreign, you should go download the Striking EP. And if you find yourself feeling the need to shake some body parts, well…just make sure no one’s paying any attention, and then shake away.
As I’ve been mixing some of the songs that have fallen by the wayside over the years for this out-takes/misfits collection, I find it surprising how easy a lot of them are to work with. Some of these things were recorded back when I had very little equipment and didn’t know much about how to use what I did have, but it’s been a pretty pain-free process getting mixes I’m happy with.
I guess when you’re working within certain limitations you sometimes devise methods of working around them. Not that my new and improved gear is going anywhere. It’s just a nice surprise to find that a lot of the older songs sound pretty good in their own right.
I’m also realizing that out of the initial group of eighty or so songs I decided to work with, there are somewhere between ten and twenty I don’t think are CD material after all for various reasons. This should make sequencing the discs a little less frustrating, though it still won’t be easy to find a good balance between proper songs and sketchier things. There are a lot of other out-takes and things I’m not sure what to do with. I should probably put them all together in one place so I can listen to them for my own amusement, if the mood ever strikes.
Some things should never see the light of day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t laugh at them from time to time.