RIYL: Oasis, Alabama Shakes, The Grateful Dead, Black Keys
Remember how enchanted you were the first time you listened to The Grateful Dead, Alabama Shakes, or MGMT? The swirling guitars, the electric rhythms that clashed so perfectly with each other… It’s exciting when musical tonalities can come together in thought-provoking, emotional ways, as they do on “On Your Mind” by newcomers Family Friends.
Listen: “On Your Mind” – Family Friends
The first single off Family Friends’ independent 3-track debut EP, Across The Water (out tomorrow, 7/10/2015), “On Your Mind” is a guitar-driven rock song colored by psychedelic tones and a swampy, bayou style of bluesy singing that fits Family Friends somewhere in-between The Grateful Dead and Alabama Shakes. This has nothing to do with the song’s female-fronted vocals, and everything to do with Family Friends’ style: Their music is big, with full harmonies that resonate as reverb-tinged guitars and keyboards support with shimmering riffs and chords.
I’ve been figuring out
I’ve been playing a way with you (in mer?)
I’ve been writing it down
I have something to say to you
But there’s no sound
Ooh, I will play it on your mind
Ooh, it’s (been keeping you inside)?
*With the official “On Your Mind” lyrics unreleased, this is my best transcription of the song’s first verse and chorus; I welcome all other ideas in the comments section below.*
A relaxed ebb-and-flow lyrical line translates into a tasteful, easy-going melody that carries “On Your Mind” through to its finish. The lyrics are difficult to deduce, not only because of the bluesy, slurred singing style, but also because the vocals in the chorus are mixed in with the instruments, rather than fitted squarely above them.
Taking the second stanza alone though, it’s clear that Family Friends’ psychedelic influence goes beyond their instrument pedals: “I’ve been writing it down / I have something to say to you, but there’s no sound.” Simple words with an easy-to-follow construction, and a layer of meaning that’s just out of reach. With its open-ended declarations, “On Your Mind” is the kind of song to which you can add your own personalized spin, making it fun to sing along to – even if you don’t know all the words yet.
“Family Friends are an Aussie / British brother-sister led guitar psych pop band currently residing in East London.”
Tom and Rebecca are the brother and sister. Nick, Tomas, and Max are their friends. In some senses, this band’s name is very true to who (or what) they are. Aside from first names and a location, all we really have from Family Friends are three songs: “On Your Mind,” released May 5, “Sometimes,” released June 15, and “Across The Water,” released July 1. The music is all we really need, too; they serve the perfect entrance for a band that’s just getting started, but bound to stir up some great things.
Lying at the center of this excitement is “On Your Mind,” a mysteriously enchanting song that could fit perfectly into the 1970s, but instead came out in 2015. “On Your Mind” dons a ‘retro’ vibe, yet just like any Alabama Shakes song, Family Friends’ music doesn’t feel old or out of place; its timelessness is a virtue in itself.
“On Your Mind” finds balance between its big, warm choruses and its pared-down verses. The guitar’s bounce will drag you in, and the harmonies will win you over. Family Friends’ sweeping sounds echo the past, but speak to the future, and this is one up-and-comer you don’t want to miss.
Look for Family Friends’ Across The Water EP, out tomorrow!
Listen: Across the Water [EP] – Family Friends