New Zealand bound for my next adventure in Bandcamp and hazy days in Christchurch where I found French for Rabbits who released their EP Claimed by the Sea in January 2012. The EP is a gorgeous assortment of 6 reflective, sad and haunting day-dreams and a remix of the title track. This offering provided me with my first opportunity to purchase a physical (CD) copy, which comes with the usual download through Bandcamp purchases. One week later a brown envelope arrived from the other side of the earth.
Baring a hand drawn mouse on the outside of the envelope and a hand written note with a cat drawn on the inside you get the feeling these guys have a sense of humour kicking away, which may offset their material. The CD also came with a pullout lyric sheet, which is bad going for $10 NZD (£5 plus £3 postage), in fact excellent value.
Before writing this blog I made contact with Brooke Singer, who with John Fitzgerald make up FFR and asked the obligatory Old Man questions:
JK: What was the main influences behind the album?
Brooke Singer: This album was written at a time when I had just started teaching myself to sing and play the guitar, previously I had always written songs for others on the piano. At the same time I started collaborating with John while we were living by the seaside near Christchurch – I think this comes through a lot in the atmosphere of the record, which is all hazy and dreamy and soft. I’m sitting in the same house now, and I can hear the ocean quietly roaring, and children screaming over by the flying fox down at the park.
JK: Which is favourite track and why?
Brooke Singer: I still love ‘Claimed by the Sea’. It is the first one we wrote on the EP, and it just came out fully formed. It’s always such a mysterious thing when that happens.
JK: If you could have a guest artist to appear on your next venture who would it be (dead or alive) and why?
Brooke Singer: I’d love to spend some time hovering over the shoulder (like a ghost) of Leonard Cohen. I’m in love with his lyrics and I’d be intrigued to learn his process of creating them.
Claimed by the Sea EP
FFR are not going to be every bodies cup of tea (as we English say). If you prefer your music club style thumping bass, or metal crunching then I advise you to look elsewhere now. As Brooker Singer suggests Leonard Cohen is a big influence and he haunts this gorgeous EP in such a good way. Yes, his presence can be felt and heard, but so can a mixture of influences to my ear, early Everything but the Girl, Morcheeba, Patsy Cline, Mercury Rev, they are all lurking around but none come to the fore and this is where this EP holds its own. The influences are the platform, the foundations, but not the house.
Wisdomprovides a 1.56 minute introduction, which advises the listener to follow their heart. Claimed by the Sea.provides a gentle, but haunting reflection of loss. Marauder Brooke Singers voice fragile and innocent tells a story, “If you suffer for love is it worth twice as much?” the pain for adventure and something different when life restricts possibilities. The Cats offers hope through loves protection, “Hold me tightly my dear I need you now to feel less lonely in this lonely place.” A Ghosts Broken Heartneeds no explanation given the title along provides both context and narrative. The EP comes to it’s haunting closure with Two’s Company which is my favourite “..inhabit your dreams so you cannot sleep because you’re so afraid of what you might see….twos company” is simply beautiful. A remix track of the title track Claimed by the Sea (PLAN Remix)is tagged at the end, which is not essential, but a nice addition.
It is a solid collection, which is apt for sharing with a friend, a loved one, a reflective moment or Sunday morning with a coffee and the sun shining down as you sit and rest in the garden. Its also nice to know that this band do not take their audience for granted. I get a real sense of integrity about this duo and it comes through in their music and the thoughtfulness in which put their material together. I highly recommend this EP, as well as the other material on their Bandcamp site.
On a final note of strange coincidence. My home town is Stockton on tees and my favourite restaurant is a small and largely unknown place called the Waiting Rooms (Eaglescliffe). When preparing for this Blog I was pleasantly surprised to find that FFR from Christchurch, New Zealand had played the Waiting Rooms on their last European tour. I was further pleasantly surprised to discover they are due to play my second home city Bristol on Tuesday 20th May 2014 more details here: http://www.songkick.com/concerts/19782669-french-for-rabbits-at-cafe-kino?utm_source=1471&utm_medium=partner