Francis James is an artist from Boston who released an album called Brophy Park. The album is a lo-fi, DIY effort. He creates his music with the basics which include bass, drums, guitar and his vocals.
I’ve heard countless DIY productions over the last couple of years. In terms of quality Brophy Park is somewhere in the middle. Some of the things almost come standard with a DIY recording such as a boxy sounding snare which actually isn’t too bad on this album. Where vocals lay in a mix is also a matter of taste. For instance people often say Win Butler’s vocals from Arcade Fire is low in the mix. Also take for example the entire genre of shoegaze which is known for having buried vocals. There are sometimes on this album where James’ vocals sound so soft, thin and distant. I don't know how you could argue that utilizing EQ-ing compression techniques wouldn’t help benefit his vocal sound. He sometimes sounds as if he is singing from down the street
Musically, James limits himself to a minimal amount of instrumentation with a wide array of sounds. Other than that he kind of dabbles in different genres, styles and textures giving little cohesion to the album. Take for example “Eyeliner” which is somewhere between Weezer and an R&B song compared to the experimental, noise, garage rock sound of the opener “Rabbit Hole.” Despite the disparity the songs onto themselves are pretty well written but more importantly delivered with emotion. Most of that emotion comes from his voice which is another reason I would have mixed this album differently.
“Shake Me” is a good example of what I’m talking about. The song is pretty simple and basic; the heart is all in the vocals. I was scratching my head as to why he decided to implement the looney tunes theme on “Eyeliner.” Maybe some foreshadowing in regards to the lyrics.
“You're My Wrecking Ball” has another distinct style. He hits absolute gold with the initial riff. Unfortunately the transition that follows doesn’t feel as smooth. That initial riff though….
“Looking For a Razor” has a solid sound all the way through and the transitions this time feel natural. Good song and I thought the vocals sounded good here. “I See The World” is a soft acoustic song and another example of just how disparate this album is. It sounds even more so going into the chaotic noise of “Eat Me.” That being said “Eat Me” is a highlight.
Overall, Brophy Park has some issues such as the cohesiveness of the album and the levels of the vocals but they are outweighed by the raw, emotional way in which they are delivered. There is plenty of room for improvement here and I look forward to hearing him evolve.
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