Good advice that opens the new release from Lancaster PA's DIY studio assemblage The French Revolution, and advice that the band's core of Daniel French and Jeremy Bentley took to heart both in the original concept for the band and in the recording of their outstanding sophomore effort, Back To Basics.
If you've studied your Lancaster music history, you know that this Revolution began in October of 2009 with the The Letdown, both a debut album and a manifesto: To Hell with the Corporate Music Business! To Hell with endless touring and gigs in seedy dives in front of unenthusiastic drunks! To Hell with trying to write The Next Big Hit! To Hell with charging ridiculous prices for a CD so that some label can make a profit! Let us simply make music we enjoy, and give it to the people who enjoy hearing it!
That's right - give it to them. No charge. Free. A Revolutionary concept indeed!
The Letdown definitely was not a letdown, and neither is Back To Basics, although they are quite different from one another. Among the guerrilla tactics being employed in this Revolution is the drafting of an ever-changing musical militia. French and Bentley remain the heart and soul of The French Revolution, but the other musicians helping out on Basics are a completely different cast of characters than those on The Letdown, save for the return of guitarist/keyboardist Jason Sherman. (Sherman takes a larger role this time around, providing a sizable share of the vocal duties, which were previously solely provided by French.) The result is a decidedly different personality than the first album. Where The Letdown was a rocking house party, Back To Basics finds itself getting lost in moments of almost sentimental introspection - the partygoer who takes a moment outside to clear his head before rejoining the fun.
It's nice to hear these layers of emotion becoming a part of The French Revolution's growing bag of tricks. It shows a continuing growth and depth in songwriting and a willingness to follow where the music they are creating leads. I would have been disappointed (dare I say "let down"?) to simply hear a rehash of the first album. Still, it remains difficult to describe the sounds here. Part of the manifesto is to play the music they want to play, which means they are not beholden to the bounds of any particular genre. Obviously hard rock is the basic foundation, but that's an awfully wide foundation. That they each grew up on 90s alternative rock is apparent, but it is equally apparent that they know well the 70s roots from which that grungy genre grew. Their ability to throw a nifty hook or two into the mix belies a bit of pop influence as well.
Back To Basics is, like its predecessor, being offered as free download here beginning today, June 7. (The Letdown continues to be available as well.) My favorite cuts are "D.O.A." and "Incomplete," which you can listen to below, but please, do your part to help the Revolution - download the full album today, and pass the link along to a few friends. I'm interested in hearing your reviews, so please stop back here and share your thoughts on the album!