According to both Native American and Druidic belief, the fox represents deep interactions of adaptability, cunning, observation, integration, diplomacy and swiftness of thought and action. New Jersey’s aptly named Foxanne is the explosive equivalent of that definitive description.
What I immediately noticed in the rudimentary performance of lead singer Chelsea Gohd and her band is a giddy, unbridled writing and performance style. Flying far outside the commercial zones, Gohd’s magical voice swipes wide brush strokes of original flair along the lines of Francis Quinlan (Hop Along) and the most often used descriptive of Laura Stevenson. Her band pays little attention to tried and true commercial guidelines or industry no-nos as they drift and float through sophisticated, open-aired passages of avant-garde countryside, and it makes for some fresh harmonic design.
Formerly of the group Cherry Sea, Gohd uses this recording group to downshift into clear and present directions of colorful and imaginative sound. She recently sent me her latest demos, and I immediately noticed the discerning use of voice and wise instrumentation. Utilizing organic bass, drums, and guitar, Foxanne delivers a wild mix of progressive-tinted instrumentation and voice not common with very many in the local NJ/NY scene.
Moon Motel kingpin Jason Sales tipped me to this band, and I took some well-heeded intel to sit back and go through Foxanne’s latest live recording project. Recorded by Vincent Troyani, this is a yet-to-be-titled project that will take our listeners closer to a fledging band that needs to be heard here in the Shoreworld and the world beyond.
“Till The Morning” kicks off with syncopated drum and bass work (courtesy of Abel Tabares and Josh November) pumping under ragged electrics and Gohd’s sing-song pristine voice. Running up and down the scales, Gohd dips and flies over the top of the band’s choppy, addictive enforcement. Leveling in the chorus, the group slips down into a bridge before bouncing back and into their abstract rhythmic thunder. I love the guitar work on this cut, and it is noted that Chelsea handles rhythm guitars with all the skill of Rivers Cuomo or Kelly Deal.
“Chainsmoking” is one of the group’s better-known tunes and there is a good reason for that notoriety. Gohd actually reminds me of Full Fathom Five singer Ashley Kate Geiger. She uses her immense sense of tone to raise and fall, moving from sultry lows to mezzo soprano highs within the sector of each verse time frame. I love the volume swelled single-note guitar bend that signals the start. The group builds foundations of solid granite before kicking into the arabesque verse. The build continues into the second verse with pulsing bass and drum work as guitars finger pick and open voice roar into the chorus. The bridge flies in like some breakneck, aristocratic masterpiece of prog rock gold before Gohd takes the chorus, piercing the air with her robust, sky-high vocals. “Chainsmoking” is a vaporous masterpiece of an experimental bliss and my favorite song of the lot.
“Deer Friend” is an outlandish and multi-directional expressionist piece that reminds me of early Breeders meets Rush. Gohd can hit those Geddy Lee melodies like very few could hope to as the band fans the musical flames with radical expertise. The trippy, stepping stone bass work of Josh November spider crawls and pops into the verse as Gohd layers smooth, intimate vulnerability all over the top of this stormy piece. The band settles back into the next verse with a funky, floating Nirvana-tinged blast before doubling back into a bouncy, spiraling bass-dominated jam groove. Guitars (courtesy of Eric Tapper) sizzle and sing with the ghost of Duane Allman as Gohd winds up and catapults deep into the heart of this profound and addictive song. Seductive and baroque, “Deer Friend” is yet another song that you’ll be listening to for “friendly” days on end.
“Rule The World” sounds with echoed, bell-clear electrics playing simple patterns over Stewart Copeland-styled drums and stark bass work. The hypnotic melody crosses the lyrical trails of Gohd, who flies high above, soaring with high-rise melodic splendor. The band is impressive here. Guitars are smart, giving just enough atmospheric direction to center the action back on Gohd before the rhythmic bass and drum punch takes center stage. If you’re into great traditional bands such as Portishead or Morcheeba (with Skye Edwards) you are going to fall in love with “Rule The World.”
The last song on this interesting group is called “Stay.” Lavished in minor chord decadence, “Stay” lives up to its name. Simplistic and stark, Gohd counts off the band as they plunge into this 4:52 odyssey of dark, glittering architecture. Grinding in slow motion dreamscape, this Chris Isaak-vibe piece groans with ominous desolation and angst. This is what songwriting should be all about. The creative, freedom-laced sensibilities breathe and move without the strain of premeditative hustle. Chelsea Gohd exudes a sensuality and vulnerability that comes hot and natural, as if she doesn’t have a choice in the world but to sing this way. This is not rehearsed or done to death woodshedding performance. It is pure and animalistic feel.
Foxanne is a band that has scores of potential. While I have a feeling that they are still climbing into their ethereal stratosphere, this latest offering is a group of compositional gemstones that made quite an impression. I know that they have many exciting places left to explore.
To say I am impressed with what Foxanne has to offer would be the understatement of the year. And while there have been a few minor changes (Kendall will be replacing Josh November in the live show), I suggest that you support them while they’re still on the local level. Eventually, Foxanne is a group that will be moving on to a bigger purpose.
You will have that opportunity on Friday, Jan. 23, as Foxanne takes over The Saint in Asbury Park for a night of luxuriant, alternative atonement. The Saint is at 601 Main Street in wonderful downtown Asbury Park. For more information on Foxanne, check them out at facebook.com/foxannemusic.