By Eve Marcellus
The name sounds like a person, but this is actually a group comprised of vocalist Deva Mahal (daughter of blues musician Taj Mahal) and keyboard player Steph Brown. The two met while performing separately in New Zealand before settling in Brooklyn, where they joined as a duo and are currently based. Their resume includes collaborations with some of music’s big wigs, ahem, Kanye.
For the most part, Fredericks Brown has a very agreeable bluesy soul sound. The group’s debut single is called “Betrayal” and showcases a more uptempo version of these ladies’ sound than the other tracks featured on their MySpace Music page (they did not provide digital music files). The “organic Pacific sound” that they tout comes across stronger in this song than the others but detracts from Mahal’s vocal strength. Hopefully, in the future they will be able to blend the uniqueness of that international sound with the smart songwriting and pleasant melodies that can be heard throughout the rest of the work they have posted.
Sounds like: Something you would thoroughly enjoy at your local jazz club.
Listen to: What Lies Within, All the Days
The Touques (pronounced “two-ks”) are a three piece rock outfit from Reno. They have been playing shows (from the looks of their website, a lot of shows) and plan on recording a full-length album in Montreal in 2010. Their current release is a fun five-song EP entitled, The Touques EP. The band is clearly influenced by a British pop and post-punk sound, but also has a touch of the classic surf sound. As could be expected from those comparisons, lyrics and songwriting take a backseat on all the tracks, particularly on “White Elephant (Settling),” where they are completely absent. While at first this seems distracting, this track helps to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the others. The EP clearly showcases that the group has some real instrumental skill, however, the weak vocals makes them sound rather unpolished, particularly on “Goodbye Monsieur”. It’s not a stretch to expect their live shows are fun and elicit what these guys are all about. Going forward, they need to get a singer with real chops or one that can pull off the “so weird it’s great” sound they’ve already got down pat in instrumentals and arrangements.
Sounds like: Anyone remember Ash?
Listen to: Roy Stampler, HRPM