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Frog EP by Frog
Audio Antihero take us back to the beginning with a nice re-issue of Frog's debut EP
Frog's debut album Kind of Blah came out earlier this year to some low frequency internet buzz and a load of sparkling reviews. It's a fantastic album, and one which happily seems to be a bona-fide grower. If you haven't got that album, for whatever reason though, you could do a lot worse than getting this one first. This mini-album was originally released on Brooklyn label Monkfish Records way back in 2013, but has now received a well earned cassette re-issue from UK label Audio Antihero.
The Frog EP, made by duo Dan Bateman (Vocals / Guitars) and Tom White (Drums / Synth / Vocals), is as bare bones a recording as you're likely to hear. A lo-fi blast of pop that plays like an American Songbook for an alternate universe that's filled exclusively with smokey dive bars, it's probably no coincidence that this is such a perfect recording for the tape format (but please note, the download comes with it's own distinctive analogue hiss, so you could always just pretend you're a tape-deck owning hipster-dufus like me).
Frog are most immediately an alt-country band, but they also mix in things like lo-fi, post-punk, post-rock and pop to create a lush, welcoming sound which elevates them above many modern country/Americana acts who seem to be grounded in a boring bog of their own making. The songs here are almost universally warm and uplifting, captured in the moment and without the cold claws of digital tampering getting in the way. It's certainly an accomplished set, highlighted by tracks like "Nancy Kerrigan" which is an early precursor to Kind of Blah's "Photograph" in terms of showing their ability to write punchy pop tunes with such a throwaway ease.
It's the sound of a band at their breathtakingly confident beginnings.
"Nancy Kerrigan" - this slow burner is the album's literal and metaphorical centerpiece. Heartbreaking and uplifting in equal parts. When Dan Bateman sings "If I could afford it, I would record this on your mother’s organ, you left back in Oregon", it's like a tease, a nod to a backstory that we're left to imagine for ourselves, filling in the blanks as we go. Having said that, the organ present on this recording sounds so beautiful, you're kind of glad they didn't ship this mythical organ all the way from Oregon. Leave it be.
"Arkansas" - Joy Division gloom paves way for some sparkling glock-driven joyous noisiness.