Audio Mixer: Chris Sorem.
After a smattering of indie singles and a brief EP, California indie quartet Francisco the Man come out swinging on their debut album, Loose Ends. It's been a long road for these four friends who first formed the band in Riverside back in the mid-2000s. After making the move to Los Angeles, they diligently plugged away, first aligning themselves with indie Small Plates Records, then eventually signing on with Fat Possum for this LP that's certainly been a long time coming. Brimming with textures, noisy riffs, and strong melodies, Loose Ends is a big, expansive indie rock record with an ambitious, guitar-heavy sound. Feedback, fuzz, and amp buzz give much of it a spontaneous garage rock feel, and there's also a dreamy shoegaze thickness that speaks of overextended pedal boards, but more than anything, Francisco the Man know where to put the sweet spot and how to deliver it. Opening track "You & I" erupts in a storm of slow, sweeping power riffs before singer Scotty Cantino's warm, high tenor drops perfectly into the gap for the song's moody, angelic first verse. The way his clear melodies counter the band's penchant for occasionally woolly guitar sprawl provides a nice push and pull throughout the record. Standout cuts like "In the Corners" and the enchanting "Progress" resemble a more garage-oriented Phoenix or Mew with their smart, hard-thumping rhythm sections and occasional buttery synth lines. There's a lot to like here, with a good mix of off-the-cuff jamming and tight punch that suggests those early years spent honing their style paid off when it was time to finally put it all together. ~ Timothy Monger