#ForeignCities - The Album Track By Track
(These descriptions were also given to the Foreign Cities filmmakers to aid the creative process).
Track 1. “Love, Come Quickly” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Regrets and romantic urges meet head on. A soft and intimate, close mic-ed, multi-tracked vocal. Elliot Smith-meets-George Harrison style. A gentle acoustic song, backwards masked riffs with a hint of Glockenspiel and E-Bow.
Track 2. “My Deceiver” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
An old soul casts off inner demons. 70’s/ Midlake/ Fleetfoxes inspired, woodland folk style reminiscing over organic acoustic piano, acoustic guitar, bass and a lone reverb-infused vintage Fender Starcaster solo from the Wild-West.
Track 3. “Foreign Cities” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Fight against it if you dare, but time moves everything forward. Let go or be dragged. Delay-soaked Gretsch electric guitar, close mic-ed lead vocals and a backing of distant voices provides a base for this simple, modern, hymnal style ode to searching for presence of mind.
Track 4. “Epitaph” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Sometimes your dreams don’t make sense. A surreal journey of a little Carnaby Street bowler hat who sees all, a graveyard full of lovers, a dead and buried bird, and a protagonist. Who knows where that came from. More in the rock-pop style, this number features James playing as the full band, over dubbing himself 30 or more times in the studio to create an ensemble arrangement complete with rock electric guitar, Beatle-esque harmonies, fuzz guitar, delay-solo guitar, full live drum kit, piano and a micro-korg synth.
Track 5. “Dancin’ Embers” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Tempted after a few too many stiff drinks around the campfire, visions can come to any man. Especially a man who saw the edge, the darkness, the end, and then returned. She seems to be calling him in. Maybe just one more…
The feel of this boppy folk-pop song offsets a darker, more sombre, seductive undertone.
Track 6. “Ab Aeterno” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
There is no past, no future, only the ‘now’. And the ‘now’ is eternal, since the beginning of time.
A Psychedelic, meandering, rock-synth instrumental inspired by Doves and David Bowie’s ‘Low’ record. Originally recorded in James’ bedroom on an 8 Track tape machine in 1999 at 3am in the morning looking out over the mist of the Ku-Ring-Gai valley, this version has been finished off with overdubs and some further electricity.
Track 7. “Cry Yourself To Sleep” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
We fail ourselves, friends fail us, God fails us, the spirit guides fail us. But if your faith of any sort is real, how can it ever truly fail?
A vocally raw track, inspired again by the vocal performances of Bowie’s ‘Low’ and Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ record, this piano, drums and bass built track searches for truth in that final moment between the conscious mind letting go and the depths of slumber taking over.
Track 8. “Flowers” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
The freedom of a coastal drive, the wind blowing bitterly and the windows down full. Scenes flash by, regular Joes become mythical characters in a story in your confused head as you drive away from lust. Love seems a long way off yet. Originally an acoustic ditty, this became a full-blown electric guitar driven ‘band’ track when James recorded an off the cuff drum take for the song in a Wicklow studio whilst recording for other tracks. The song then took on a new life and started to push its own way into the physical world… An accidental piano part became an up-front and centre solo mid way through before a doubled Gretsch solo brings it home. You may spot vocal inspiration on this one from The National’s record ‘Boxer’.
Track 9. “Icarus” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Some people die young. Only, they don’t die. They come back, pulled from the void at just the right time. They can never look upon the world with the same eyes again.
A vocal-heavy, atmospheric track set to music from the middle of the night.
Track 10. “In My Dream” (Written by J. Cooper / Control)
Friends and lovers. What would it take for you to tell the truth? You’re alone finally, together. You, her and the years past. Not a soul else left on the planet. Do you say it? Do you feel it? Is it still there? A glockenspiel, an Australian acoustic guitar and an old CasioTone keyboard James learnt to play on in the 1980’s provide the musical spine for this mid-tempo musing on supposed lost soul mates. This track was very much inspired by a record the Finn Brothers made together years ago in a small studio, simply called ‘Finn’. Relaxed acoustic textures, a tambourine muted by a towel then recorded, rhythmic acoustic guitar strums with no notation. A micro-korg amped up then let feed back in a small ambient room.
Album recorded & produced by James.
Released May 17th 2012 on Whitewash Recordings.