You may have missed it altogether such was the way he just snuck it onto the internet, but last week Johnny Foreigner frontman Alexei Berrow posted up a new EP online under his Yr Friends moniker. Containing five new songs it carries on from where the first Yr Friends EP left us; with a handful of delicate and plaintive tracks.
I’ve always loved the way Lex writes about music (anyone who follows the band will know exactly what I mean) so I dropped him an email and asked him if he might like to write some words about his new release. I didn’t hear anything back for a couple of days and then I woke up to the following this morning. I don’t think I need to say anything else…
Track-by-track guide; Yr Friends – Yr Friends Have Already Left
Written by Alexei Berrow
This is a collection of doomy songs I made mostly in bed. Self induced musical exorcism. I had a rule that if it was loud enough to be heard by someone sleeping next door, it was too loud to record. I made it all using a mess of iphone apps, a digital 8track with built in mics, and trusty cooledit pro. I’m in love with old sparklehorse and microphones records where the environment leaks onto the songs thru all the imperfections; tape hiss and crackly connections and so on. I’d much rather listen to a song thats alive with stuff like this than something professionally designed and swept sterile, and it suits my lazy stay in bed attitude to making records on my own. That bit where you can hear me cough, thats real art, that is. Bandcamp is also a huge motivation; pretty much everyone I know has a real job, so the idea that I can make money out off sitting in bed playing music makes me feel like less of a bum. Not that JF isn’t profitable these days, we just owe a lot from those days. We’ll be out of debt for the first time in 4 years this summer, and I’ll be like, yo buy my new yr friends ep cos I need to upgrade my speedboat. Serious.
1) sorry, i was just trying to be positive about the future
I got this awesome free app called soundprism, played one chord on the rhodes setting and this song pretty much wrote itself. I tried just micing my ipod and it sounded ok, then I got a lead and it added this weird clicking over the top; which makes for a pretty poor app, but ace for my purposes..
The burbling voices at the end come from a collection of number station recordings. I ripped them off youtube cos i’m far to lazy to record an actual radio. I didn’t realise Wilco had beaten me to it till I found the actual Yankee..Hotel..Foxtrot station. This is a sad depressing song.
2) from the hheeaarrtt
I really wanted this to be a chuggy Weezer song for jfff, but it needed a proper big chorus part and no matter how much weed I smoked I couldn’t find it in my head. As soon as I started thinking of it as a yfff song, it grew its own chorus, so I guess it was meant to be. The violins were all recorded in random places and I was going to move them around and orchestrate them, but when i dropped the tracks in it sounded great so i just left them where they are. The barbershop part was a late edition; I love recording stuff in such a lofi manner cos when I have stupid ideas at 4am I can make them instead of faffing around with compression and mic stands and whatever. This is also a sad depressing song.
3) the last time i say don’t leave without me, i’ll probably mean it
This was a replacement for another song, I was halfway thru recording it and it kinda sounded like it belonged on the last ep. So I gave myself an hour to write something to replace it, and this splurged out. Which is weird cos I’m usually hopeless under any kind of self inflicted pressure. It was super hard to play cos it’s in E and my guitar was in D; doubling guitars masks a lot of bum notes.. I didn’t want to add a proper drumbeat, and a tambourine would have gone over my noise limit, so what you here is just the click track turned up hella loud. I’m not quite sure if the title makes sense. This song starts off sad, and then reaches depressing.
4) yr boyfriends have been lying to you
I wrote this for the only gig i ever played, but held off recording it cos I had loads of production ideas. They pretty much all turned out shit. I had like, a framework of the song on garageband and kept adding to it till I pretty much destroyed it with ripoff Jimmy Tamberello drum loops. I learnt a lot about quantising and layering patterns tho, which should impress the ladies. I scrapped pretty much everything apart from the bass, which is so low that half the speakers I play it thru don’t even register. The hihats are doubled to disguise the fact that Garageband and Cooledit disagree on BPM. There’s another free app I used at the end called beatwave, its a tenori-on ripoff thing but sounds really twinkly and cool. This song is just pure depressing tho.
5) one silent mile
I brought a spanish guitar from a charity shop for £10 and felt like I had to use it somewhere. I had to keep retuning it with pliers cos the tuning pegs had fractured off. This song is dead happy and positive. If you get the reference in the title I love you.
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