Reviews

Frenchy and the Punk


Frenchy and the Punk
Zen Ghost
Out now via EA Recordings.
‘If The World Doesn’t End First’ is out Nov. 16
Release: 16 November 2022

NYC-based postpunk duo Frenchy and the Punk present their new single ‘If The World Doesn’t End First’, a love song wrapped in an impending apocalyptic scenario that is inspired by current events, past fears and the knowledge that, in the end, the things that don’t matter pass and the one thing that does remains.

This is a superb taste of their seventh album ‘Zen Ghost’, released via EA Recordings, following up high energy singles ‘Mon Souvenir’ and Siouxsie-esque ‘Come In and Play’. Here, their shadowy sound takes an even darker turn towards the pair’s previously unexplored personal planes and interpretations of the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age. Dark times make for dark songs.

Frenchy and the Punk is vocalist, percussionist and lyricist Samantha Stephenson and guitarist-composer Scott Helland, who was co-founder and bassist of Outpatients and also Deep Wound (along with Dinosaur Jr. founders J Mascis and Lou Barlow). Influenced by The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, Concrete Blonde and The B52’s, the duo thrive in their trademark blend of post-punk and dark folk music.

“I have a very clear memory of seeing the apocalyptic film ‘The Day After’ as a child and being totally traumatized by it. I had a recurring nightmare for months afterwards that I was running home during a nuclear war to die with my family, I didn’t want to die away from them. It was the Cold War, it felt like the end of the world was possible back then,” says Samantha Stephenson.

“Extreme circumstances tend to put things in focus and in perspective. The past six years politically and culturally have been very intense. The pandemic felt like the culmination of years of social and cultural anxiety. There was a point where, after our US and European dates were all cancelled in 2020, we were trying to book some shows with the expectation that it would be possible again in early 2021 but the situation kept shifting. A promoter, suggesting a new possible show date, ended the email with ‘if the world doesn’t end first’. That phrase really hit me. It took me back and I started thinking about how all the trivialities and ridiculous things that we worry and stress about, things that in the end don’t matter, vanish in the face of survival and we are left with the one thing that does matter – love.”

Tapped as one of the Top 25 duos in the US by Yahoo! Music, the freewheeling pair has released numerous recordings, including the acclaimed albums ‘Happy Madness’ (2010), ‘Hey Hey Cabaret’ (2012), ‘Elephant Uproar’ (2013), ‘Cartwheels’ (2014), ‘Bonjour Batfrog’ (2014) and ‘Hooray Beret’ (2019).

French-born, but raised in the UK and USA, Stephenson’s study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled a quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts and was a vital player on the region’s fertile early hardcore punk scene.

Helland and Stephenson met in NYC in 1998, when Stephenson spontaneously jumped on stage to accompany Helland during his solo guitar performance. The artistic union was immediate, powerful and undeniable. The two began to tour with fevered zeal, turning heads with their striking aesthetic, steadily building fervent fans on the mystical-folk/steampunk festival, coffeehouse, convention, and club circuits with their boisterous, revival-like live shows.

Over the years, they’ve performed live with Dead Can Dance’s Peter Ulrich and Dresden Dolls’ Brian Viglione, and opened for Thomas Dolby, Dinosaur Jr., The World Inferno Friendship Society, Rasputina, Cruxshadows, Hurray For The Riff Raff and The Young Dubliners. 

The ‘Zen Ghost’ LP is out now and can be found across fine digital outlets, including Apple MusicSpotify and Bandcamp. It is also available on CD via the band’s website.

CREDITS
All songs written by Samantha Stephenson and Scott Helland
Samantha Stephenson – lyrics, lead vocal, percussion, keyboard
Scott Helland – guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals
Jason Sarubbi – upright bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Braxton Bellew – additional electric bass on ‘Church of Sound’
Recorded & mixed by Jason Sarubbi at Split Rock Studios, New Paltz, NY
Mastered at The Cage, Coventry UK by Martin Bowes
Cover photo by Alice Teeple
Pen and ink drawings by Scott Helland
Album cover design by Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson

TOUR DATES
Dec 2  Camden/London – Black Heart (with Before Victoria & Flesh Tetris)
Dec 6  Edinburgh, UK – The Wee Red Bar
Dec 10  Exeter, UK – Yule Ball (with Professor Elemental)
Feb 4/5  Manchester, CT – Stupid Cupid Steampunk Festival
Feb 18/19  Gettsyburg, PA – MythiCon Festival
April 01   Galveston, TX – Galveston Steampunk Festival
April 8-9  Baltimore, MD – Between The Worlds
April 15/16  Chicago, IL – Chicago Steampunk Expo
April 22/23   Apex, NC – Festival of Legends

TRACK LIST
1. Mon Souvenir
2. Temple of Sleep
3. If the World Doesn’t End First
4. Gear Geist
5. Church of Sound
6. Come In and Play
7. Paradise Found
8. Blood
9. Oxygen
10. I’ll See You Again

Frenchy and the Punk – If The World Doesn’t End First

Frenchy and the Punk – Come In And Play

Frenchy and the Punk – Mon Souvenir

Frenchy and the Punk – Elephant Uproar

Frenchy and the Punk links:
Band/Artist location – New York
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