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Diane Coffee — My Friend Fish [2013]

Diane Coffee — My Friend Fish [2013]

USA Flag          Diane Coffee — My Friend Fish
λ♠   Tormented, liberated, terrified and triumphant.
λ♠   Foxygen drummer’s venture is a treasure trove of nostalgic gems
Formed: December 2012, Manhattan, NYC/Location: LA / NY ~ Bloomington, IN
Album release: October 29, 2013
Record Label: Western Vinyl
Duration:     32:46
01. Hymn      (3:18)
02. Never Lonely      (3:24)
03. Tale Of A Dead Dog      (4:17)
04. Wwwoman      (3:00)
05. New Years      (3:41)
06. All The Young Girls      (3:18)
07. When It's Known      (3:37)
08. That Stupid Girl Who Runs A Lot      (1:58)
09. Eat Your Love (With Sriracha)      (2:38)
10. Green      (3:35)
♠ Shaun Fleming
♠ Jonathan Rado
♠ Joey Lefitz
DESIGN: Jared Bell

λ♠   Child stars, swallowed up and spat out by the Hollywood machine at an early age, tend to grow up into destruction and despair. But 26-year-old former Disney voice actor Shaun Fleming — also known as Diane Coffee — is a man not afraid to veer off script in anything he does. Whether trading the sun-kissed plains of California’s Aguora Hills for the busy bustle of New York on a whim, shunning Tinsletown to craft didgeridoos for a year (“you’d be amazed at how well the didgeridoo market’s doing in this economy”) or making an album of dizzying 60s-slumming-round-the-West Coast gospel-pop, Fleming takes it in his stride. “It was a mess,” he says of ‘My Friend Fish’, recorded on pots, detuned guitars in just two weeks in his apartment fresh from his move across the country to the Big Apple. Push him a little further and he’ll tell you that’s just the way he likes it.
λ♠   From the age of 6, Fleming — recently seen drumming in Foxygen — has voiced characters in Kim Possible, the Lion King and other kids’ cartoon phenomenon. “What can I say, it was an amazing time in my life,” he laughs now. “Eventually I just really started to fall in love with music and fell out of the acting thing.” One swim in the lush waters of his debut and you’ll thank the heavens he did. In fact, from the earthy Crosby Stills and Nash folk jolts of ‘Tale of a Dead Dog’ to the lo-fi husk of ‘That Stupid Girl Who Runs A Lot’, you might never want to climb out.
λ♠   The album was shaped by an adolescence spent hunched over records by the Beatles. Beach Boys, Bowie and Bill Withers (“the four Bs” as Fleming calls them) as well as modern troubadours Sufjan Stevens, Feist, St. Vincent and Bon Iver. Closer to home, his relationship with Foxygen band mates Sam France and Jon Rado also played a part: “I grew up with those guys. They were writing way before I ever was. I remember thinking ‘wow, these kids are so young, I really need to get my shit together’”. Rado lends a helping hand on a couple of the tracks here.
λ♠   “I tend to write about things that give me pause in day-to-day life,” says the songwriter. He’s since left New York for the calm of Indiana but not before the metropolis could inspire one of the year’s most memorable collections of songs. “The album’s my two week odyssey. It’s a document of my new East Coast existence. I missed the quiet. I missed the being able to have a fire. I missed the colour green.”
λ♠   Miss ‘My Friend Fish’ and you’re missing out.
λ♠   words/ b kramer
λ♠   Diane Coffee is tormented, liberated, terrified and triumphant. More altered attitude than alternate persona, Coffee is Shaun Fleming’s creation, a life crafted in tight, varied snapshots. Saturated with swagger and fanciful fits, My Friend Fish whirls both emotionally and musically, steadied only by bravado, where even sadness is boldly pleaded.
λ♠   An overlooked touchstone in the parade of critically appointed influencers for Fleming and his other group, Foxygen, is that of Beck — the gangly and stretched 21st-Century-bluesman by-way-of slacker-prophet. As such, Fish shows flashes of Odelay, Mutations, Midnite Vultures and Sea Change. “All The Young Girls,” Fleming’s iteration on the Princely tenderness of Midnite Vultures’ closer ”Debra,” is particularly demonstrative of the sleazy steeze that seeps from both records. Whereas “Hymn” and “Tale of a Dead Dog,” are the bombastic, airy, folksier singles from a record that otherwise features a heavy dose of vibed-out R&B and vibed-out Punk.
λ♠   The vocals, in spite of the various stylistic flourishes Coffee marches them through, are often remarkable. Most of the tracks feature Fleming’s voice behind some kind of effect or technique, but it’s never quite the same twice, and he fully commands each. A confidence that repeatedly shines through, be it on the generally straight ahead “Never Lonely” or the Magical Mystery Tour-esque “New Years” and “Eat Your Love”.
λ♠   Foxygen comparisons will be both welcomed and aspersed, and while both projects share an of-the-moment and feels-good-now quality, Diane Coffee breathes deeply where Foxygen holds its breath. Fleming’s range, musically, stylistically and temperamentally, differentiates My Friend Fish from all that it evokes. Fortaken: (http://www.aquariumdrunkard.com/)
λ♠   "Joseph Campbell describes a shaman as "person, male or female, who…has an overwhelming psychological experience that turns him totally inward. It's a kind of schizophrenic crack-up. The whole unconscious opens up, and the shaman falls into it." We'll never know the whole truth about what happened when (Foxygen drummer and former Disney child actor) Shaun Fleming moved from the West Coast suburbs to New York, but whatever it was fractured his psyche, opened it up, and gave birth to Diane Coffee."
In french:
λ♠   Un album très marqué par l'influence de la "psychedelic pop" de la côte Ouest des States décennie '60. C'est sous ce nom curieux que le batteur du groupe Foxygen commence une carrière solo. A découvrir.
Matt Wilkinson; Score: 8/10
λ♠   Foxygen are the most messed-up band this side of Fat White Family, and their alumni are already splintering off into various side-projects. Diane Coffee is the turn of drummer Shaun Fleming, and compared to the often-misfiring studio material of his main band, ‘My Friend Fish’ is something of a revelation. Self-recorded in a two-week burst while Fleming was holed up in the band’s shabby Manhattan apartment recovering from the flu, the album pilfers liberally from the classics but proves he’s enough of a free-willed songwriter to make things more than just dull pastiche. At its best it’s like sifting through a treasure trove of half-remembered gems, the chief reference points all coming from the colourful side of the ’60s: late-era Beatles (the end of ‘Hymn’ is like ‘Get Back’), Tom Jones (‘All The Young Girls’) and, on glorious, breathy closer ‘Green’, the Jackson Five. (http://www.nme.com/)
Label: http://westernvinyl.com/catalog/WV111.html
By Lily Moayeri; Score: 6/10
λ♠   http://www.undertheradarmag.com/reviews/diane_coffee_my_friend_fish
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dianecoffee1
Press: Daniel Gill at Force Field PR
Agent: Zachary Cepinzachary@highroadtouring.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dianecoffeeband

Diane Coffee — My Friend Fish [2013]