The Fontaines Series No.2
by CA Marshall
Bing! I get this message the other day in my inbox and upon checking, I see that Hank Fontaine, one half of the dynamic ‘du-wop’ duo, The Fontaines, from Los Angeles, California, is inquiring about whether or not I have heard their new album yet. (of COURSE I have, they are The Fontaines!) ‘Do you think you will do a review?’ he asked. I smile to myself and respond, ‘Don’t worry dear, I was already on it!’ It would be amiss if I weren’t to follow up the epic ‘numbered series’ we have posted on several of our top Indie Artists over the last year and The Fontaines have certainly earned this spot simply, well, by being The Fontaines.
Sounds like a pretty confident statement doesn’t it? But it isn’t just the hard work (back to back albums have been recorded!) this quartet band impresses upon us (Hank & Charlotte Fontaine – brother and sister, accompanied with Daniel Zuker on bass, and Chrystian Kaplan on drums), it is the fact that the sound on their new four song EP ‘ii’ (released June 24th, 2016) is demonstration of both epic vocal ability (Charlotte can certainly belt out those lovely gravelly-yet-delicate chords!), and instrumentation that is guaranteed to lighten the heart, brighten the mood, and put a soulful swing in your step all while bringing a serious ‘new’ sound to our ears. Based on the last interview I had with Hank (see here – The Fontaines Series No.1) where it was indicated that the ‘new music’ is going to be constantly evolving, ‘ii’ is definitively a new planet in The Fontaines’ solar system in it’s entirety both audibly and visually.
On June 16th, 2016 the band premiered their video for ‘Cold’ (see below) which sent Radio and Media into a frenzy with reviews and airplay leading up to the EP release on the 24th. The song was an intro and a hearty helping of ‘things to come’ for the EP release only a week later.
The songs, written by Hank and Charlotte, are a testament to their ability of balancing unique quality and consistency throughout the album. Not one song is the ‘same’ but they all pack a smiliar serious punch. The song titles which were revealed in our Series No.1 feature on our Spotlight are: ‘Cold’, ‘Handstand’, ‘Please, Say Something’, and ‘I Love You’.
Now before you go thinking this is ‘just another love story’ album, it would seem quite the opposite when you actually listen to it: the riffs in ‘Handstand’ are a fun yet serious combo. Is that possible? With The Fontaines, the answer is always a resounding ‘YES!’ Even in this song alone, you go from that ‘du-wop’ vintage sound the band is notorious for right into 80’s sounding guitar riffs that throw the whole song into a chaotic, yet eccentric and delightful cohabitation. What does this mean? It means that even in one song, just when you think it’s going down the ‘du-wop’ path, the vocals take a left turn and the instrumental a right giving you a truly pleasant surprise for the ears. It’s absolutely nothing you have ever heard before. And this, my dears, is why this band has earned their place on the Starlight Music Chronicles Spotlight series.
When we go into ‘Please, Say Something’ you are reminded of Charlotte’s sultry sweet vocals set apart from the concentrated instrumentation previously heard in ‘Handstand’. She stands alone in this number and carries this lovely melody accompanied with light instrumentation that is just the perfect combination. It would be a shame to not have at least one song on this album showcasing this talented young lady’s incredible vocal ability and this song brings perfect balance to the whole EP. Where ‘Handstand’ definitely showcases Hank’s ability to shred his guitar like no other, ‘Please, Say Something’ is it’s feminine counterpart.
The final song, ‘I Love You’, starts out and finishes this EP off on a perfect note: it climbs in anticipation right from the get-go and leads you right through to the end. In trying to imagine this song on stage with the full band assembled, I’m not gonna lie here: I can actually envision a 1940’s-esque set with back up singing girls wearing polka dot dresses complete with pin-up worthy hairstyles that would make Lauren Bacall jealous. Yet, I have actually seen the videos this band has produced bringing this visual to a halt: their image is fresh, modern, and sleek – a perfect contrast, and there isn’t one ‘du-wop’ girl in sight!
So how do they do it? How do they bring classic sound to a new millennium that is desperately seeking ‘something new’ without coming across as a duplicate of eras past? If you are really listening, you will hear that clearly, this isn’t a replica: it’s uniquely and completely, the original sounds of The Fontaines.
Yeah, I’ve got the goosebumps too…..
Have a listen below to ‘ii’ and be sure to add it to your summer listening favorites!
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