Posts Tagged ‘kind of blah’

Frog at Performer

Click through to read the print issue online!

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Frog at DIY Mag

‘Kind of Blah’ isn’t a title that does the debut full-length by duo Frog any justice. How could any album recorded in a disused bowling alley – situated under a cafe, mind you – be “kind of blah”?

Lead single ‘Judy Garland’ isn’t doing any favours for mediocrity either. With a heehaw Cowboy croon and Americana guitar licks, ‘Judy Garland’ hurtles forward like a horse bolting out of its pen; a righteous folk song that rattles around your brain like an old familiar campfire tune you can hum but can’t quite pin your finger on. Imagine the euphoric pop of Small Wonder getting caught in a time warp to the wild west with Modest Mouse’s ‘Satin in a Coffin’ and you just about scratch the surface.

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Frog at The Evening’s Empire

The debut full length record Kind of Blah from New York duo Frog is one of my favorite of 2015 so far (read my full review of it for London in Stereo). It was a brilliantly rough-around-the-edges exercise in catharsis and nostalgia.
This is characterised perfectly in the stunning and sentimental song and video for ‘Judy Garland’. “When she died it broke the last vestige of the 1940s America that everyone deep down still loved” explained Bateman of the vaudevillian icon.
Watch the touching music video from Portland director Alex Coppola.

“excuse me darlin’ to disturb you 
could you spare a bit of what the lord’s left for you 
bless your solemn unending virtue 
lest your savior up desert you.”

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Frog at The Deli

It seems inevitable that Queens will soon replace Brooklyn as the musicians’ favoriote NYC borough – Frog is the second band we are covering from Astoria this week, sign of times to come! This year the duo came out of nowhere with their debut LP ‘Kind of Blah.’ a collection of electric and eclectic songs sharing a slacker rock attitude. Their music features a variety of influences ranging from the sparse and dreamy atmospheres of slow core (‘All Dogs go to Heaven‘) to the more uptempo experiments of post punk (check out ‘Fucking’ – streaming below, reminiscent of early XTC – or ‘King Kong‘ that’s half punk madness, half folk sanity). Ballads like ‘Everything‘ and ‘Knocking on the Door‘ more clearly unveil the duo’s Americana tendencies, while other uptempo episodes like ‘Photograph‘ are a direct reference to the mother of all slacking bands, Pavement, probably the most influential band in Brooklyn right now. Frog’s eclectic take on the genre is refreshing, and is taking them places: they’ll be playing some dates in the UK in January. You can beat the Britons by seeing them live at Palisades tonight (08.11).

We added this song to The Deli’s playlist of Best songs by emerging NYC artists – check it out!

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Frog at Paper Blog

New York City has always been the epicentre of cool for music. Every band dreams of playing there and anyone who has been to the Big Apple will tell you that you can’t help but be drawn into the sheer energy and excitement of the place. However, as Scott Pilgrim taught us all so well, it’s also s place that outsiders love to find solace, hope and like-minded folk in… We’re harbouring a guess but we’d imagine guitarist and vocalist Dan Bateman and drummer Thomas White fall into that second category. Hailing from Queens, together the two have formed a band called Frog who have already received acclaim from all our favorite sites including Drowned in Sound and GoldFlakePaint. Now, with a new low-key statement replacing the band’s name as its title, the duo are releasing ‘Kind of Blah’ through Audio Antihero Records.

Recorded under a derelict bowling alley, the album really does suck you into the New York that Frog know… Opening with ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’ – a song we assume to have been named after the underrated 1980s weepie – Frog welcome you subtly. Neutral Milk Hotel-goes-country vibes and minimalistic vocals are delivered while the lyrics are suitably Tom Waits-esque: ‘Fuck with me darling and I’ll make you pay’. To make sure the song is not entirely terrifying, the band also showcase their line in self-depreciating humor telling you long before the song’s final note that ‘All songs end in quiet refrain’. This continues on to the garage rock of ‘Fucking’. A psychedelic-meets-West Coast vibe is delivered at a rapid speed while there are also jangly moments which mark Frog out as a band that would have been perfectly at home playing at the Bronze in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Playfully referencing a very famous Disney song, ‘Wish Upon a Bar’ brings to mind the Divine Comedy with its line in humor and dreamy soundscapes, although again the lyrics hint at something far more sinister: ‘You wish upon a bar, please don’t tell me where you are’; and ‘It’s almost Christmas time, the bartenders get in line and they ask you about your kids…’ opening your eyes to the story behind the song.

There is a big 1960s-style ‘Wall of Sound’ effect wrapped around ‘Photograph’ although the subject matter remains contemporary as first Dan references getting a text and then, in a huge outpouring of emotion, continually repeats: ‘I don’t know where you are’. With its huge, anthemic sound there is also some words about ‘1979’ thrown into the mix and we reckon it just has to be a Smashing Pumpkins reference… Frog show time and time again on this record just how much a simple tink of a glockenspiel can add to emotion-laden song and this is used to great effect on ‘Everything 2002’ – a track that recalls The Most Serene Republic at their most lucid and, inevitably, Los Campesinos!, especially when Dan opens up about his personal life: ‘I poured kerosene on my old dirty magazines, Mom and Dad don’t be mad at me’.

‘King Kong’ perhaps finds Frog at their most widespread sound – veering from a huge sound that is worthy of the big ape to lo-fi Moldy Peaches-style anti-folk and then back again, with a jaunt into eccentric pop along the way. This soon moves onto the sublime sound of ‘Catchyalater’, which evokes The Antlers while also remaining grounded in modern reality: ‘I watch you through the kitchen window, I wanna call you, I just play Nintendo…’ There’s a feeling of helplessness and regret as ‘Ohhs’ slither in and out of gently pitched guitars. As Dan sings: ‘I saw you exit’ and ‘Here comes the doctor, here comes the nurse’, you can’t help feel his anguish. Especially when a detuned piano and nominal applause enter the fray… The album’s lead single ‘Judy Garland’ at first recalls Herman Dune with its opening notes but as the band sing about Fred Astaire, the Chelsea stores, the drag queens and the whores, it veers into an unexpected disco territory which falls somewhere between Wild Beasts and Perfume Genius having a dance-off. It’s a huge and grand pop sound that comes from leftfield – but it works so well.

‘I’m an adventurer’ is a line from the album and it’s a hell of a journey to join Frog on. An album that will have you an emotional mess at one moment and hopping for joy at the next… ‘Kind of Blah’ is anything but.

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Frog at The Album Wall

Here are some lyrical excerpts from the songs that make up Frog’s Kind of Blah:
“Bar moans with calzones and verses from the Rolling Stones” Wish Upon a Bar
 
“All dogs go to Heaven, all songs end in quiet refrains, smart moms buy generic, say it tastes the same” All Dogs Go to Heaven
 
“Judy Garland hit the bathroom floor of her cold apartment ‘bove a Chelsea store and all the drag queens and all the whores couldn’t get poor Judy back up off of her laurels” Judy Garland
 
Fuckin’ poetry, no? If I had written those lines, I would want to make damn sure that everybody could hear them, that my genius was plain to all who listened.
 Weirdly, though, that’s not what Frog have chosen to do. Their album – Audio Antihero‘s latest release – has a smoggy, out-of-focus kinda sound, and instead of being pushed right to the forefront for all to admire, those wonderful lyrics are actually pretty low in the mix, frequently getting covered up by the lo-fi, country-tinged rockin’:

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Frog at This is Book’s Music

Kind Of Blah (Audio Anti-Hero) is the kind of pop music that music fans would want to immerse themselves into on a regular basis, for it is a wonderful and balanced blend of pop and rock, with enough eclectic qualities that show they are not afraid to share a sense of humor because they may not take themselves too seriously. In other words, the guys of Frog aren’t here to share any level of snobbery and while the humor may be in the distance in most of their songs, that subtlety is very much present. You can say that their music fits alongside the likes of Brad, Weezer, Qui, and the Foo Fighters, bands where you can champion because they sound good but don’t mind laughing with because they expose that side of themselves without being ashamed. They seem to want to enjoy dipping in and out of different things within each songs, loving the aggression of hard rock and punk while throwing in new wave here, late 70’s pop there, synth pop way over there, and early 90’s alternative grooves without trying to cash in or try to be trendy. The music here is easily accessible but I say this because it’s accessible to me, someone who feels they are pop music traditonalists will throw flags and call this an abomination, but it’s not. This is the type of pop/rock craftiness that needs to be heard and hopefully more people discover their sounds, they will continue to make music like this, exploring and going beyond their limits, and become a force. I wish them well.

 

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Frog at Grey Matter

Friends, meet Frog. Frog is made of Queens pals Dan Bateman (Guitar and Vocals) and Thomas White (Drums) and apparently the UK loves them! They released their single Judy Garland some months ago and their actual LP Kind of Blah on May 25th. I think you’ll like what you hear.

They start their LP frantic and on fire and end it singing you through dreams — there’s a pretty clear ramp-up and come-down, so I’ll start by saying they certainly know how to put an album together. Sometimes Dan shouts through tantrums and then he croons quietly. It’s not confusing or aggravating because it’s real and honestly we’ve all felt like doing both at some point. At the same time you’ll feel like you’ve been taken through an audio pop-culture-history lesson about Jesus Montero, Daniel Day, Toni Braxton, Lynyrd Skynyrd and, of course, Judy Garland.

The balance of wild and calm isn’t too exhausting, but it is a palpable expression. Kind of Blah takes you on a roller-coaster aurally as well as emotionally. At the end you’ll find you’ve just relived your first two decades of life — only this time in some hybrid of the 50’s and 80’s as opposed to, like, when you actually grew up.

Most of the songs end before you know it and you have a moment where you think, wait a second I wasn’t paying enough attention, I got lost in it and now it’s over and I need to hear it again. Replay. Each song has phases, so if the opening ten seconds don’t make you feel anything, give it twenty more or you may miss your new favorite thing.

The choice to make ‘Judy Garland’ the single was a good one, or in any case I liked it best too and would have made the same decision.  Full of tongue twister, clever rhymes, and combinations of banjo riffs and chimes, it’s one of those upbeat tunes that’s not as lyrically happy as the tune might suggest. Pretty cool.

Click through for some track streams!

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Frog at Revue

Dan Bateman, lead singer and guitarist of Frog, writes that their new album, Kind of Blah, is “an attempt to engage modern musical ideas from a 1950s style of arrangement, and a was a complete failure in that respect but a success in most others.” The album drops May 25th on London indie label Audio Antihero.

Frog cites many 1950’s and classic country influences. Those influences aren’t readily apparent at first listen, but upon repeated (and repeated) spins of Kind of Blah, I recognize what Bateman meant. The songs ache with a particular type of confessional honesty, one that classic stars like Hank Williams traded in. In Hank’s day, you could just say “I’m so lonesome I could cry,” but nowadays it’s a little tougher.

I watched you from the kitchen window

I want to call you I just play nintendo

Croons Bateman on catchyalater, the 8th track on Kind of Blah.

Repeated mentions of sodas, Metrocards, late-night McDonalds, and video games make this record feel like it comes from somewhere a few layers underneath the skin. Scenes of lonely Queens, nighttime drives around New York City, desperate sex in tiny apartments, and even Patrick Ewing build a character behind the tunes as well. You feel like you’re inhabiting someone’s mind, someone sensitive, a little bit desperate, who might fall too hard for the wrong girl or just be too afraid to talk to her.

Click through the rest, including a video!

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Frog at If It Be Your Will

“Kind of Blah” is the stunning debut LP from Frog, the two person guitar band from Queens, New York. 11.5 songs recorded in a non-functioning bowling alley under a cafe in Astoria. As Dan Bateman writes on the LP sleeve, the album “was an attempt to engage modern musical ideas from a 1950s style of arrangement, and a was a complete failure in that respect but a success in most others.”
‘Kind of Blah’ doesn’t sound like it was recorded in the Columbia studios on 30th Street or like it was produced by Irving Townsend, nor do the songs sound like they were written to be performed at Carnegie Hall. But the spirit of NYC past and present lives in Frog, in this unknown guitar duo from Queens. It’s an album full of sounds and stories, of lives lived and not lived, and it’s every bit as compelling as that sounds.

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