Tag Archives: Nick Frater

Holding On to You – Nick Frater

…and now for another post about new music.

Nick Frater, Croydon’s resident power-pop maestro, recording nerd and chord-sequence genius, has released a new record, Full Fathom Freight Train, which you can download from Bandcamp, stream/download in all the usual places or buy on 12-inch from his website.

Nick makes music in the vein of Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, Eric Carmen and Todd Rundgren, or their Gen-X disciples like Matthew Sweet and Jellyfish: expansive, frequently irregularly structured pop that’s enlivened by harmonically adventurous chord seqeuences that allow his melodies to go to surprising places. There’s always the sense that they could take a hard left turn at any moment. That makes the more straightforward pieces like the lovely Andrew Gold-like Holding On to You even sweeter, and even this one has chewy surprise chords in the middle eight. I’ll get him to take me through it one day.

When you listen to Nick’s songs, you’ve always gotten well-considered arrangements that are detailed without being cluttered, and excellent musicianship from Nick and his small cast of additional players (on this record: guitarists Paul Ryan, Ian Granton and Mike Randle, drummers Tommy Shotton and Ben Handysides, vocalists Nicolai Prowse and Alex Lewis*). Full Fathom Freight Train might be his best work yet, though, sonically speaking, with its mastering job by Simon Francis and Jon Clayton-engineered drum tracks.

Frater has been remarkably productive in the last few years. Go to his Bandcamp page to catch up with his past work, including all 18 minutes of The Sombrero Fallout Suite.

Frater
Spot the Beatles ref…

Alex Lewis, Nicolai Prowse and Tommy Shotton are former members of Do Me Bad Things. Lewis and Prowse were later in the Rosemary Works, with Frater and drummer Ben Handysides. Mike Randle plays guitar in Baby Lemonade and Johnny Echols’s line-up of Love, while Paul Ryan plays guitar in Super 8.

Goodbye Kayfabe – Nick Frater

My friend Nick Frater, the creator of a series of slightly barmy power-pop gems, has a new release – a 7-track EP (or possibly a mini album – the distinction eludes me) called Goodbye Kayfabe.

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That’s Nick in the white suit and lucha libre mask.

Nick’s music reminds me of Jellyfish’s incredibly knowing but lovingly crafted meta pop – opener Built to Last recalls that band’s Spilt Milk standout Joining a Fan Club – both songs pull off that Paul McCartney trick of having about five different sections, each hookier than the last. Lead vocals on Built to Last come from Nicolai Prowse of Do Me Bad Things (drums throughout are by DMBT drummer Tommy Shotton, who plays a blinder) but elsewhere it’s Nick, with some help from a Lewitron – Nick’s homemade Mellotron featuring the voice of another Do Me Bad Things alumnus, Alex Lewis.

Nick, as you may have guessed, is a recording nerd. For real. He’s got it worse than me. But while that may not be great for his own sanity, it means that his songs benefit from smart arrangements and well crafted instrument sounds, as well as a meticulous mix that includes loads of cool details without crowding the vocal and critical instruments. So Built to Last features a triple-tracked bass line and a Hohner Pianet doubling the guitars, More Than This (not the Roxy Music song), has a real brass band on it and a trombone solo, while Paperchase has a lot of cowbell, a bunch of Nick’s antique synths and a drum track that quotes from Ringo’s Ticket to Ride beat.

Nick saves two of the strongest tracks for the end. Remoaner, like Donald Fagen backed by ELO, has some of the juiciest chord changes I’ve heard in a long time, while the lovely Asking for a Friend (written in 10 minutes, Nick says – the best ones always are) finishes things off on a wistful note.

Nick’s put out a fair amount of music in the last five years or so, so if you dig any of what you hear on Goodbye Kayfabe, be sure to check his older releases too.