Hollywood history and looks, co-mingle with L.A. dreaminess: reborn again, since 2010.
Currency is available at
MIXING acting with music has been a fascination of mine...
for quite a while. It is something that, in this country, leads to grimacing and hesitation amongst many. I guess if you go from the studio to the stage, the reluctance is less intense. It is when actors attempt music, that faces are contorted in a rictus of stunned silence. Critics line up, shining their boots, ready to take the first swing, and the public in general tend to pass them by. In the U.K. the phenomenon has been present for many decades now. It is only over the last 10 years or so, that we have seen more and more actors turning their abilities to music. It is something I will explain more, when explaining the featured band; but for now, is a short history of thespian mis-steps and triumphs. For all the actors, whom have made successful transitions from the stage to the recording studio, there has been a mass of embarrassing failures. Hugh Laurie is the best British example; he has a natural blues voice, and has been displaying his music and vocal chops since his early acting career: Jeeves and Wooster springs to mind. In the U.K. I guess there have been a lot more failures than you'd expect, as I am loathed to highlight another actor, whom has managed to be held in fund regard as a musician. In the U..S, the likes of Juliette Lewis and even William Shatner have had mixed fortunes. Russell Crowe and Robert Downey Jr. have infested their horrid tones on the world; and Jared Leto is a somewhat overrated second-rate singer and musical talent. There are few U.S. examples whom have managed to stay credible. Zoeey Deschanel began brightly as part of She & Him, but their latest album Volume 3 attests, their charm and ideas are running low. If you factor Will Smith out of the equation (whom I suspect began singing before acting), then you have murky waters indeed- but more on it later. In the U.S. there is a small wave of new bands and acts, making their way across the Atlantic. Most of the time, there is an overzealous focus on homegrown talent, with a rather narrow and restrictive foreign policy. I have been privy to hearing superb acts from Australia, Europe, as well as the U.S., and one thing always strikes me hard: why have I not encountered them before now? There seems to be a balkanisation within the music media, or a par with political agendas and evils: giving other countries a leg-up seems to be a no-no in general. Occasionally publications here, such as The Girls Are, The Guardian and The Fly point you in directions unexpected, but by and large, the attention span reaches as far as London, or, if you're lucky, Manchester. The U.S.A. has produced some of the finest ever music, and it seems that there are not more passionate links between us and them, with regards to promoting one another's sonic talent.
Step up, SanguinDrake. Back in the Spring of 2010, amongst the bustle of the West Coast of America, was produced, an amalgamation of Sarah Sanguin Carter and David Drake. Sanguin Carter hailed from Canada; Drake from Michigan. One would not imagine that a man from Detroit: home to Motown, The Eagles, The White Stripes and Aaliyah, would blend so harmoniously with a girl from Canada: native land of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. The two had produced solo albums before they met one another, and had received plaudits and credibility. They met, as they state, by chance, and had no prior connection or link: they shared a love of shared music and influences. It is the shared chemistry and harmonious musical talents, that has galvanised their partnership, and kept them focused far into the future. I was first made aware of Sarah, through CSI: New York and Falling Skies. She is possessed of an astonishing beauty, that is quite unnerving, but also portrays a natural passion and warmth through her acting roles, that translates effectively through the songs. David has Hollywood idol looks as well, and a keen sense of style: the combination of aesthetes, as well as fascinating back-stories and 'other lives', welds together to create an impressive duo. The band/duo has an impressive online following; their Twitter and Facebook pages are a mass of positive feedback, activity and impassioned feedback. Their official site is painted in pleasing and dynamic pastels; awash with unique and quirky photographs, and detailed and insightful. Drawing from their diverse hometowns, and different musical backgrounds, the duo have concocted a tight and mannered partnership, which has been wowing L.A.- their new residency. They do not go into too much depth about whom their influences and idols are: they let their music do the explaining. On their official website, it is said that Sanguin Carter has "ethereal and edgier artistic tendencies"; whilst Drake possesses a "sincere, masculine vocal quality". The duo's humour, as well as shared affection, results in a "hauntingly balanced blend of paradoxes".
To put that publicity to the test, I set my sights and ears to Currency. The video itself is awash with black-and-white mystique, as well as Pop Art diversions: there is a filmic quality to the promotion. The video itself lays in old style P.B.S. graphics, and gives itself a '70s stylistic: there is a retro appeal straight away, as well as a charming playfulness to proceedings. Opening the track is percussive thud and pump; it is like the momentum is Strawberry Fields Forever (before it fades right down, before coming back up). When that intense punch is married with a dreamy and hazy guitar line, it is a harmonious blend, and creates some romantic mystery to proceedings. It is nary impossible to consider another song, when listening to Currency. There are perhaps elements of early-career The Cardigans, as well as the folky edges of Dylan, Young and Cohen, but I am grasping a little at straws: SanguinDrake known the relevance of communication; discarding the hyperinflation tendencies of most bands (fall in love with a band(s), and copy them repeatedly), and infusing their songs with a distinct stamp of originality. It is a refreshing sea change from a lot of newer music, and Currency manifests a breezy, intriguing and pervasive intro. In the video our hero and heroine wander the streets; Sanguin Carter looking a little like Dusty Springfield or Edie Sedgwick- there are swathes of '60s cool, quirky fashion, and striking hairstyle. When the vocal arrives, the sound is more modernised and fresh. When it is sung: "Nothing in life is free/Gems are gems if we make them so", there is a clarity in the vocals that means that the words hit home. Our heroine has a shading of Lana Del Rey: in the way that she can elicit smoky and sensuous vocals that wash over you, but there is something more captivating at work. The tones are clearer and more emotive; there is less emphasis or capturing some sort of Nancy Sinatra-esque sound, instead the voice is sweeter and more personable: shades of Country, mix with soulful edges and smooth middles. The video's portrayal and replication of Factory Girl is a charming and unexpected move. I guess, if you were listening to the song sans video; you may well picture similar scenes and sensations. Th lyrics are intelligent and poetic: "A diamonds cost is a life lost", is a striking example. The musical background is simple and percussive-heavy, providing an audible heartbeat and blood flow; but the vocals are given best consideration: Sanguin Carter's silky tongue is allowed to seduce and captivate. When the duo combine vocally, the effect is pleasing and natural: they compliment one another brilliantly, and the masculine-ethereal blend adds weight to the words. The two state that "Generosity is a Currency"; the coda emphasises that love is a two-way street and someone is always in someone else's debt, to some degree. When the chorus capitulates, and a new verse arrives, the words: "Side by seed in our need/Side by side in our greed", begin tales of a burgeoning love, filled with possibilities, vulnerabilities and tender promise. In the video, our heroine- at this point- is painted in black-and-white; pouting, a sex kitten; photographed and lusted after. It is the voice that keeps enticing: a little bit The Divinyls-cum-'60s siren. There is a lingering hint of a known vocalist in the tones, but for the life of me, I can't remember who. It is the power and seductive quality that Sanguin Carter has: draws you in and leaves you a little dazed. Our video visuals are a little '60s chic/Strawberry Alarm Clock, but the sonic evocations are focused and engaging. You can imagine the song scoring something modern and underground: a charming, intellectual indie film, or mainstream romantic movie- it has that utilitarian prowess. The chorus is one of the most effecting and effective components. It is powerfully sung, and words such as "My love, nothing in life is free", have a wise and burden-heavy regard upon their shoulders: one gets the impression that both of the guys have seen and experienced a great deal of emotional revocation. The percussion and guitar sounds keep the mood alive and balanced but do not hustle for focus: they let the words and voice stand out. The voice from our heroine does not just dreamily survey and proffer; there are skips and little sparks of energy. When the line "I can't stand still when I hear that", it is has '60s and modern-day pop evocations and in the video, Sanguin Carter combines hair-tousling siren (think Kylie Minogue-cum-rock chic), with the central motif of Sedgwick: saddened and downcast, as our hero (in black-and-white) sits in front of a projector, and watches her below. Just after the 2/3 mark, a noticeable quickening of energy is unveiled, as the percussive sounds grab your attention most. In the video, our central idol, totters away and out of shot; beguiled and starkly affected. The song ends with the chorus repeated and you are left with a strange feeling: a great track has been lodged, and has lodged in your mind, but there are questions. You wonder how events ended up- such is the potency of the words one cannot help but picture every scene. Also, you become curious about how you have not heard of the band before, given the impressiveness of their music.
There is no hyperbole or over-expression in the words above. I only encountered the band through chance. It is ironic, that for a duo whom met amidst serendipity and chance occurrence, that I arrived at their feet by similar fluke. It underpins my argument about the compartmentalisation and balkanisation within the music industry, and associative media. Many may see the duo and become fixated by their combined beauty and sex appeal. Sanguin Carter has an incredibly striking and alluring beauty, and in the music business, that is often used as a pretence to detract an artist, and focus upon superficial aspects. If you factor out the birth rights, and delve into the music, many prescient realisations become clear. The sound itself is a rarity and golden touch. Many new acts, and especially duos can have something of a curate's egg about them. There may be reservations when you hear that one of the group's members is an actor, and a much sought-after focus on the Hollywood scene. Like Deschanel, Sanguin Carter has an affinity and passion for music, that transcends any preconceptions and expectations. The differences, though are many. Sarah's voice is more varied and engaging: there are flavours of '60s legends such as Springfield, as well as modern tones, too. The range is impressive, and she has a very strong and powerful voice. She is at her best when seducing and trying to draw you in (which she does with aplomb). David, is a brilliant singer and counterpart; he is an accomplished and brilliant musician, and his voice is similarly strong and captivating. Where SanguinDrake stand apart, is the compositions and lyrics. I urge you to seek out their other songs as well, but on Currency, there is a clear sense of authority, passion and musical history. The composition is solid, tight and evolutionary: the percussion, guitar and sounds act to eek out maximum emotional fortitude. The key is in simplicity, and unearthing effectiveness through as few diversions as possible. There are haunting and dark smoky edges, as well as defiant stalwartness. The lyrics appeal to me hugely. They go beyond the expected norm: boy-meets-girl-has-issues-hearts-broken-emotions-unfold-no-way-back. The words are intelligent, pointed and thought-provoking; and the theme of 'Currency' is represented originally and brilliantly. Overall, you become an instant fan, as the music exceeds any prefabricated notions, and what is left in your mind, is a duo whom are producing fabulous music that has its mind and body in 2013, but its heart, soul and lust in the '60s and '70s: eliciting a similarly genre and era-straddling charm and quality. The media, as well as social media, needs to do better to promote worthy bands, and enforce their appeal and longevity. If I hadn't happened upon SanguinDrake when I did, who knows when- if at all- I would? There is no fate, destiny or karma- life's randomness and lack of predeterminism does not gift the good with due rewards: you have to go and earn your own luck and richness. I am not sure how far my gold standard thumbs-up with go, towards affording the duo with new and wide-ranging fans and followers; I hope it at least gets them noticed here in the U.K. In spite of my recommendations and patronage, the Drake-Sanguin Carter coefficient will earn plaudits and plenty of currency, beyond their L.A. and U.S. fans, and will (hopefully) soon, be playing festivals and locations around Europe. Listen to what they have produced, and imagine what is coming next; because one thing is certain:
THEY will be a permanent fixture before too long.