What does Midwestern music sound like? Well I'd hope it would
sound honest, frill-free and genuinely talented. A band that matches
this definition exactly goes by the name Fort Frances.
And as might be guessed, they call Chicago home. With their recent
release, The Atlas, they have begun their journey in music
and done so with a solid 10 tracks for your listening pleasure.
Sitting at #2 is what's probably considered their first single.
"Falling Down" has a child-like simplicity to it. Melodies
are strong among the white keys of a piano and the light chords
from the lead guitar, but it's when the soft and delicate vocals
come in that the song really takes shape. Words tell a story fueled
by life and love. A percussive beat bears a slight resemblance
to hand claps and acts as a backbone to the entire trip. It's
a beautiful number. The rumor is that these three gents take a
number from the four gents that paved a bit of a musical road
in our history, but The Beatles influence definitely pokes
out in the song "Losing You". The vocal style is set
at a higher octave than a few of the other songs and feels slightly
unpolished. The lack of polish isn't a bad thing, as McCartney
himself often came off a little raw in recordings. The intermittant
"ahhah's" and xylophone notes only further the '60s-70s
youthfulness of the song.
If you're a Midwestern then you have a lot of experience with
long drives out in the middle of nowhere. But you've learned to
appreciate the nowhere as a place to lose yourself, mentally.
So it's almost ironic that one of the songs perfect for a mental
break is actually tied to the West Coast. "Ghosts Of California"
contains some great front porch acoustic guitar (possibly mandolin)
strumming, as well as a dash of Sunday morning organ sounds. While
I don't believe the lyrics are deliberately religious, they have
a kind of clarity and elegance to them that's got to be from some
kind of faith. A love ballad is heard in "White Roses".
Those xylophone notes make an appearance again, this time in the
middle of some passion-filled vocals. Harmonies end the song by
sending the words "love be simple, time be kind, wherever
you're going, keep me on your mind" in one ear, through each
heart string and out the other side."
For their first music video off of The Atlas the band
chose the final song on the album, "Cities In Dust".
Everything starts off very simple with a few percussion beats,
and a soft piano to accompany David's vocals. About half
way into it and the song breaks out of its box. A chaotic guitar
distorts while drums and bass act as a military charge, slowly
but surely taking over you stereo. Tension builds until a ween
creates the means to an end and allows a few more keys to finish
I'm not entirely sure if The Atlas is the official debut
of Fort Frances, but I am sure glad that we've only just started
to hear from this band.
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