Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Revolution Will Be Downloaded

[That's What I Was Going To Say is on a brief hiatus during the holidays.  Regular posting will resume on Monday, January 10.  In the meantime, please enjoy this countdown of the ten most popular posts in the blog's history.  Today we present #8, The Revolution Will Be Downloaded, originally posted October 13, 2009.]

The first sign of the impending revolution was a cryptic message on Twitter on June 25: "The French Revolution is coming..." was posted by @TFRevolution. Then, months of silence.

The next volley was fired September 21, when both Twitter and Facebook received the warning, "Nobody expects The French Revolution..." A fan page had been set up on Facebook by The French Revolution, to compliment the Twitter page, and now the battle was ferociously joined. Over the next several days, both sites saw constant salvos:

• "Aren't you tired of having the same old thing spat back at you?"
• "Your patience with the Revolution will be rewarded"
• "Good morning. Hope you all have slept well. The Revolution never sleeps..."
• "In just a few short weeks, mysteries will be revealed. Stick with us, and thanks for following!"
• "October 13 will be a landmark day for the Revolution. Mark your calendars!"

I am personally not a fan of the "it's all a big mystery" approach to marketing. Oh, it works - these Revolutionaries certainly got people talking, trying to figure out what or who this was - but for me, the payoff better be well worth the wait for it not to be seem hokey and manipulative. Today being the landmark day, the big reveal turned out to be a letdown.

Wait, allow me to rephrase that: the big reveal turned out to be The Letdown, the excellent debut album from Lancaster's newest musical project, The French Revolution.

Friends Daniel French and Jeremy Bentley, each veterans of local bands, form the core of The French Revolution. The project began back in 2007 as both French and Bentley found themselves fed up with trying to play by the Corporate Music Industry's rules for establishing a career in music. As they wrote in the initial blog post at their long-standing MySpace page,

"...once you forget the fun involved in creating and giving your music, and start playing it for reasons beyond the pure joy of it (say... to impress labels, or get on tours with bands you don't really like but who have more "industry clout," to try and get a deal with an agent, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on), the life and joy tends to get sucked right out of music."

Feeling drained and frustrated, French and Bentley made a pact to thumb their nose at the whole machine and go back to making the music they want to make, sharing it with people who enjoy it, and above all else having fun doing what they love to do: writing and playing rock music. Today, that vision has resulted in The Letdown, a thoroughly enjoyable collection of a dozen tunes available for free download both at their own site and through Gimme

Supported by fellow Revolutionaries Patrick Kirchner (of the band Slimfit) and Matt Campbell (of Ex Education), French and Bentley aren't necessarily breaking any new ground here, but that's entirely by design. This is Cheap Trick wearing a Green Day costume; this is what was good about '70s-'80s-'90s rock without all the pompous overblown overtones; this is every alternative band reimagined as mainstream rockers; this is power chords and ra-ta-tat-tat drums and a party that overflows into the street. It is, simply, a FUN album - almost an anachronism in today's musical universe.

And, in the ultimate gesture of disdain for the Industry they have turned their back on, they're giving the whole shebang away for free! It's not about anything more than the music, period - it's not business, it's not product, it's music that is meant to be shared and enjoyed.

A follow up album is in the works already, this time as a three-piece with guitarist Jason Sherman. Bentley says, "Each new album by TFR will most likely include a different member, or changed membership, to spice things up and add different influences, but it will always be the core of Daniel and myself for as long as we wish to continue The French Revolution." If they keep making music like this, let's hope this Revolution goes on for quite awhile!

Listen to my personal favorite cuts from the album, "WMD" and "Force Field":


Force Field

Then, go download the whole album and join the Revolution!

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