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A Genuine Freakshow – Oftentimes

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A Genuine Freakshow – Oftentimes

Posted on 06 December 2010 by Joe

It’s not often we review an album more than a month after release date, but then again it’s also not often that a band’s PR agency fail to do something simple like pop a CD in the post.

We first heard A Genuine Freakshow a couple of year’s ago. They sent us a free self produced EP and we were hooked, immediately penning an Introducing article about them. Chamber pop, indie rock, call it what you will it was a bunch of tight, orchestral, pop savvy tunes that promised so much more.

This seven-piece from Berkshire’s debut album Oftentimes has been a long time coming, reportedly scrapped then started again. We were keen to hear more. An email was fired off to their PR firm Loudhailer Press in late summer, an email was returned promising a review copy.

We waited, we waited, the November release date passed and nothing. Part of me thought A Genuine Freakshow had become too big for their boots to bother with a little music blog like ours.

Turns out we couldn’t have been more mistaken. They are just as enthusiastic about the music blog community as they ever were. Last week we got an email out of the blue from the band’s guitarist Simon Evans, asking if we would like a copy of the album. He remembered our Introducing article but had no idea of our previous attempt to get a copy. After apologising profusely on behalf of Loudhailer he popped down to the post office himself and we finally got a copy. As Simon says in his apology, “if you want something doing correctly…etc.”

Oftentimes

So rant about forgetful PRs over. What on earth is this long awaited album like? For me it more than delivers. The expanse and flourishes of its string section and trumpets, the slick production all show an assured talent. Lead singer Timothy Sutcliffe’s stunning vocals are another high point. Think Sigur Ros mixed with Ra Ra Riot and you are somewhere near the Freakshow sound.

The album kicks in with a familiar track for us ‘We Are The Undercurrents’, which was on the EP they sent. It’s a good opener leaving you wanting more due to its short length that has been expanded a little on Oftentimes with an extended intro.

Next up are two of many singles, ‘I Can Feel His Heartbeats’ and ‘Hopscotch Machine Gun Madness.’ Both are as good as any indie pop release this year. And so the album goes on, slick indie pop number after slick indie pop number, some slow, some fast, many with gorgeous string arrangements, with ‘Holding Hearts’ and ‘Our Bodies’ among other standouts towards the end of the album.

Its pleasing that the same band we first heard on the first EP has not been destroyed by slicker production. This happened with Ra Ra Riot, who sucked the life out of the tracks on their entrancing first EP when recreated for their debut album. It’s also pleasing that A Genuine Freakshow continue to see the value of promotion through small indie music blogs like ourselves, even of it slips Loudhailer’s mind.

So where next for A Genuine Freakshow? They have the mainstream appeal and songs to be a festival favourite and the understanding of the production process to be a better Ra Ra Riot. In fact, they could go anywhere they want on the back of this exciting debut. A bit of luck is needed of course, oh, and some decent PR support.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about A Genuine Freakshow visit here.

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Introducing…A Genuine Freakshow

Posted on 21 September 2010 by Joe

Continuing our look at unsigned, emerging bands

Where are they from? UK

Who are they? Timothy Sutcliffe – Vocals & Guitar,Jack Bryant – Drums, Marianne Casey Canning – Violin, Melanie Dickson – Cello, John Dunstan – Trumpet, Simon Evans – Guitar and John Szmidt – Bass.

What do they sound like? There is a quirky Englishness to this seven piece’s take on epic indie-pop. Among their influences are Sigur Ros and Radiohead, and it shows. There’s lots of sweeping orchestral flourishes, but at its core the sound is indie-pop. For our money A Genuine Freakshow, who formed in 2007, sound most like US act Ra Ra Riot, in the way they delight in bringing instruments such as cello and violin to the fore.

What have they got to say for themselves? On their Myspace page they describe their music as “born of their broad range of influences from Elbow and Radiohead to Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky are accompanied by lush orchestral arrangements and the sincere falsetto vocals of Timothy Sutcliffe. This gives the music they create a blend of classic pop with unpredictable structures and epic climaxes reminiscent of Arcade Fire, Mew, and Sigur Ros.”

What releases/tracks should I look out for? Later this year (2009) they plan to release their first album Oftentimes and have previously issued a number of self-released singles including ‘We Are The Undercurrents’ and ‘Holding Hearts’. They are offering a free/pay what you like digital EP of some of their tracks, including ‘We Are The Undercurrents’ on their website.

Where can I find out more? http://www.agenuinefreakshow.com

by Joe Lepper, Aug 2009

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