This album, which we guess is a labour of love (they’re giving it away) is from a band that if not local is at least regional: members are from Crewe, Macc, Stoke and Manchester. The tracks on this were recorded between 2015-19, so we guess when money was spare.
The opener is a full band track and has possibly had more money thrown at it than the rest of the album put together. Not only is the production good but the song also, the result being a track that could stand up to it any more famous melodic rock tune; driven along by bass and drums with some sterling lead guitar from Shaun Lowe, it’s a really good song. They’ve also got a distinctive sound, thanks to the guitar and softer vocals from Fredericks. It’s got a guitar solo worthy of Slash but overall perhaps its more reminiscent of indie rockers like Julian Cope.
Much of the rest of the album is solo acoustic stuff, but despite being less well produced than the opener, they’ve still got a professional sound. It never sounds like those DIY efforts of a singer/songwriter whose self-belief outweighs talent, if you see what we mean: the songs are much better than that.
In his letter to us, Fredericks says they’ve been called poems set to music, and a mutual acquaintance compared it to Leonard Cohen. That’s possibly true lyrically with songs like Battling Johnny Keats but musically not: Fredricks has a baritone voice but it’s neither as deep nor as gravely as Cohen’s.
He did remind us of someone, but sadly (after some wracking of brains) no-one famous: lovers of cult indie might remember The Superimposers; they were more syncopated but the singer had a similar voice (one member was called Miles Copeland as we remember, no relation to the music exec whose brother was a drummer) and, like Fredericks, they seem rooted in late 60s soul / psychedelia.
There are 15 songs on here and they’re all interesting, with many talking of local areas: we particularly like When Rifleman Oatcake Played — they were a local band in Stoke around 1969, and we assume Fredericks was in it. “I was the drummer / The heartbeat is the band / We played Keele” he sings, later getting more philosophical with lines like “the creative dissonance of unreconciled desire”. We also like Wolverhampton, a tribute to the somewhat maligned town.
As we say, a Leonard Cohen comparison has been drawn but not by us; we’d go for Julian Cope, though Wolverhampton is not unlike a Beautiful South song, both in sound and via female singer Clare Howell. It’s mostly Fredericks and acoustic guitar but enough other instrumentation to keep it interesting.
If this was on sale for a tenner we’d still recommend it; it’s worth a tenner of anyone’s money. But it’s not a tenner, it’s free! If you email Tim Fredericks at email@example.com he’ll send you a copy.