Showing posts with label "Hop Along Queen Ansleis/Hop Along". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Hop Along Queen Ansleis/Hop Along". Show all posts


Director Features Hop Along, Song "Sally"

Hop Along

Back in September Frances Quinlan of the Hop Along (the band) formally known as Hop Along Queen Ansleis (her solo effort), gave me her beautiful vinyl record Wretches released on Salinas Records. 


Art and Music Party

Kyle, DUB Mascot, Maryanne Ventrice

Obsession Collection Music played a small part in coordinating a fabulous holiday party back in September. This was a family affair with all attendees invited by my husband, two great adult children, and me (OCM). The art and music crowd shared lots of love into the wee hours at Tre Merli.

I end the year once again, saying how much I enjoy writing this blog and have been fortunate to have met wonderful people that have enriched my life and others.
OCM curated the music line-up. Below are some picture highlights from the party in line-up order.

Novice theory 

Novice Theory

Novice Theory with Brian Newman

  Hop Along 

Hop Along

 Drink Up Buttercup 
Drink Up Buttercup

Drink Up Buttercup 

Drink Up Buttercup


Hop Along Halloween

Just had to post this fabulous picture of Hop Along Playing at the Zombie Party Festival in Philly. Hop Along used to be a solo formally known as Hop Along Queen Ansleis and is now with a full band. Many people in the DIY punk community embraced her music and often put her in their lineup. 

This picture gives me a reason to believe Hop Along is achieving its goals. Wow, wish I had been there.

Photo Credit: Amanda Shoulson


Silent Barn Kills It With Estrogen

Oh, I’ve been a virgin up until last Friday, I finally made it to the Silent Barn in Ridgewood, an all-ages DIY venue. It was the smoothest all-age event I’ve been to. Starting time was at the time listed, all the bands played, and there was a pretty close to seamless time break between bands. There is no sound check at the Silent Barn, they do their best, and duct tape is a helpful aid. The community spirit is alive in this large way place, and Joe Ahearn was a wonderful host. The Hop Along / P.S Eliot tour was on its eighth night, and two additional bands, The Diamond Sea and Little Lungs, joined them for a second night.

Hop Along formally (Hop Along Queen Ansleis) played first, to the disappointment of some late fans. It was her turn to test the unknown sound factor. She played a solo electric set. Yes, it would have been great to see her with the band, but she handled the new material well. A new song, “Sally” had whispers and vocal intensity. She employed great fast strumming and a few pedal adjustments revving it up when needed. The band would be proud! “Junk Yard James,” the vocals were the star with a few muffled strums, guitar body hits, and slow, steady kick drum by Allison Crutchfield of P.S Eliot. There was quite a large crowd, and Hop Along (Francis Quinlan) could silence a crowd and move them. So as loud and as fast as she got when it came time to hear her whispers, everyone could! WOW, I bought a 7-track demo!! It offers a diverse mix of styles, including all the festive quirky folk elements only morphed into an edgier and much louder electric recipe. Impressive!!

Next was an Australian group, The Diamond Sea, making their second appearance at the Silent Barn. Three female players and a male drummer create a smart intricate dialogue between instruments in the spirit between punk, noise, and rock. I was fascinated to look and listen.

P.S. Eliot, those awesome youngins from Alabama bring a straightforward down-home punk that is very catchy, bouncy, and rich in melody. The sing hook-along high-pitched yelps are to die for in songs like “The Troubled Medium.” The 5 song demo I bought has a muffled garage sound with megaphone vocals and is the kind of contagious fun I live for.

Little Lungs enthusiastically closed the show with high energy and great playing. With this group, it is not just making sure they play the songs it is totally about doing it. Nice bass playing as well. The multifaceted Angie Boylon plays guitar in this outfit but was the drummer for Each Other’s Mothers (reunited show in August Silent Barn) and Cheeky. I left the Silent Barn with a beautiful feeling about women musicians. I am from the generation raised during the beginning of the women's movement. Technically these are the children of my generation. It is great to see young women taking command of their lives booking and driving across the US for one Epic adventure and doing it with skill, conviction, and love. What was really cool was that the next young wave of female musicians not only came to the show but was allowed to be there! Three groups have released with Salinas Records Hop Along 10-inch Wretches P.S. Eliot Introverted Romance in our Troubled Minds, LP Debut Little Lungs Hoist Me UP 7 inch released in 2008 Flickr set HERE.


hop along / p.s. eliot tour 2009

Chinchillin/ Forever Young Tour 2009...
I've been posting about Hop for a while, but she's still only 22. Here's what I've been saying!


Hop Along Queen Ansleis; Breathtaking Electric "Bride and Groom"


Hop Along Queen Ansleis's new breathtaking electric version of "Bride and Groom" is a reworked oldy from 2006 self-released Freshman Year. Her airy, breathless, crazy energy and commitment to singing are notched up to match the music. The quiet beginning with taps on the glass and electric slide guitar add contrast to the fabulous intensity that develops. Hop Along Queen Ansleis is a female-fronted band with Frances Quinlan (guitar and vocals), Dominic Angelella (electric and slide guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums). They spent much of the spring recording three songs for a 10" vinyl called Wretches to be released by Salinas Records. It will be available for purchase around mid-July and during the tour from Pittsburgh. Hear it on Myspace! and CATCH THE TOUR!!!!!!


Hop Along Queen Ansleis Video Treat

Great short clip of Hop Along Queen Ansleis and band covering Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." Start making plans for a full US tour in July / August with p.s. Eliot.
Trust me on this one. Press Play!!!

Thanks to JackieNevin for filming.


Hop Along Queen Ansleis; New Song

OK, Hop Along, Queen Ansleis Fans Are you ready to spend the best five minutes and 45 seconds eva!! It's a Demo called "La Strada" from her upcoming full-length that was recorded over the winter with Tim Koch from Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned. She wisely is sharing it on her MySpace page. What is amazing is that "La Strada" contains all the best elements of Freshman Year, like the choruses, singing whispers, and the passionate off-the-rafters vocals. What is new is the edgy hard instrumentation mixed in with awesome vocal affectations; Weird in the best possible way. I'm salivating!! She is in the process of coordinating a full US DIY tour with P.S. Eliot, which looks amazing!! So check out her MySpace site.


Hop Along Queen Ansleis; Interview

photo Credit: Zac Geiger
Hop Along Queen Ansleis has been doing it DIY since 2005. Starting at eighteen, she released her acclaimed and cherished CD Freshman Year, which could be described as a folk fest gone haywire. She is a true original, and this release reached out and touched many. Her talented friends helped out playing a variety of instruments and complimenting the uproarious sound with complimentary hand claps, kazoos, banjo, drums, and singalong of merriment. Her voice wrapped around all the noise with complete abandon. Her DIY style is personal. Every CD was burned by hand and stamped with an artistic seal. Crossing oceans and states, the goods were packaged in hand-painted envelopes enclosed with a personal note. The return address Blue Moose Records, is a fictitious label with a rotating address due to the transient nature of college living.  Each summer, winter, and spring break, she would coordinate small tours with the occasional random house or venue show. Drives up and down the east coast and, this last summer, to the mid-west. She also has done various festivals such as Culture Shock 2007 and The Big She-Bang 2008 in NY and a slew of College shows.
While her fan base grew, she made a tough commitment to remain at The Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and obtain her BFA degree. Finally graduated, she is ready to devote her attention to music. This past year, she expanded her live solo shows to include two other musicians. Dominic Angelella on electric and slide guitar, and her brother Mark Quinlan, an accomplished drummer. The last show of this year is with Kimya Dawson at the Rock and Run For Justice Concert for Midnight Run in Dobbs Ferry. The future is wide-open, and her sound palette is ready to be smudged, blended, and applied. Hop Along’s very ravenous fan base has waited patiently. This interview is for them to glimpse what she’s been up to and what to expect from her upcoming release.

OCM Asks Hop Along Queen Ansleis (Francis Quinlin)

OCM Although you still do solo stints live, what were some of your thoughts behind adding additional players to your live show? FQ I've pretty much always wanted to be in a band, ever since I became involved in music. I've always wanted to have a BIG sound that takes over a space; creates a space, really. It just took me this long to become capable enough to play alongside others onstage. I started the solo project after I left for college, and my oldest brother Andrew and I couldn't get together to jam as much anymore, so that whole method came out of necessity rather than preference (I'm also kind of lousy at jamming if you want to know the truth). When I'd go to shows (especially ones where practically the whole audience danced), I'd get so hung up watching full bands play, and I'd get really frustrated about not having the kind of energy that only a great drummer can create. And not to sound cheesy, but Mark and Dom play with so much life onstage, they get into it, and people can't help but at least feel that, in my opinion. It's just so much easier to get excited about playing, especially older songs, being in that kind of presence. At maybe our fifth or sixth show, there were people dancing and crowd surfing for the first time during a Hop Along set. 

OCM Has adding other players to your live roster changed your recording process? 
FQ Absolutely, and in the best ways possible. Whenever I used to write a song, they would nearly always be intended to have more than one part, more than me on my guitar. But my ideas were usually vague and unrealized until I'd make an album. So I'd write the acoustic part and figure out the rest while recording. The fact that I've leaned toward creating a big sound for a while I think explains why freshman year has so much stuff going on all through it. I wanted so badly to fill up that space that an acoustic guitar just can't fill; so I recorded layers and layers of bells, whistles, toys instruments and noise, sparing no moment of nuance, just a ton of stuff. I was trying to give the record process, make it whole. Sometimes it worked there are some nice little moments. But mostly, I think a lot of that extra stuff was kind of thrown in without much thought as to what could be lost. And I'd get such a little thrill when people would hear freshman year and think I was a band. But most of it was done haphazardly, and another thing, it's really hard to recreate any of it live, I can't even remember a lot of what I did. But the way things are now, the songs take most of their shape during practice. And I've had to rewrite older songs since the band formed, because Mark comes up with these really interesting, surprising beats, and I've got to adapt to that. And then Dom works out these really pretty, captivating parts on electric that often make a small section pop and I've got to match his intensity, which is a big challenge, I've been learning. A little over two weeks ago Tim from Sgt. Dunbar came down to Philly to help us record a demo, and we took care of the bare bones of songs, just drums, guitars, and vocals. Now I'm staying up in Albany, where most of the Dunbar kids live, and where I am currently snowed in. This past weekend Tim and I have been working the way I did on "freshman year", writing while recording, adding little things of character where we see fit, and being much more selective about it. So there is this awesome three-part system going; writing the songs with the band, recording t hem with the band, and then holing up in an old house in the snow and adding the elements that give the songs a personal quality on the record, the weird stuff. So we really get to make something great, that's big but still intimate. And I've been so lucky to have so many people as invested in this thing as me, and what's more, the songs are so much better. My sense of improvement has really speeded up since I started playing with Mark and Dom. 

OCM Do you have different expectations for the release in the works having self-released Freshman Year? 
FQ Freshman Year did well for a self-released project, especially since it was produced mostly by me, someone with close to zero talent as an engineer (Chris Archibald of Illinois produced four of the tracks, and he's got way more skills than I do). Phil Douglas really saved my skin when he mixed and mastered the whole thing for me; he did a wonderful job. So even then, other people had their hands in the project, I was never completely alone. But during the whole process, it all came down to my opinion, so you might say the expectations were automatically smaller then. Now you've got three people with different ideas, and when we started out I admit I was afraid of that. I'm not the best at collaborating, especially on big projects, a lot of the time, I get more concerned about getting what I want in there rather than considering what's best for the song. And I didn't want to abandon the character that Freshman Year had (although sometimes, for the sake of arguing I'll say otherwise), the chance to experiment at the last minute while recording. But Mark and Dom both liked that album, so I got lucky and don't have to worry about it in that regard. We all want this record to be big, bigger sounding than Freshman Year (we're trying to get some bass on it, even), but it's got to be better thought out. There's even less of an excuse to put out half-thought-out songs now that there are three (more than that, really) people working on them. So the expectations are pretty reasonable, certainly more so than mine were while I was making Freshman Year. I wanted to create the illusion of there being more people, now I don't have to; they're right with me and they're helping me make it happen. 

OCM Will this release be self-released like Freshman Year, or are other strategies in the works? 

FQ We've been talking about labels we're hoping to send this demo out to, there are more than a few who've got rosters I really admire, and those I'd flip out over if we were ever asked to join. But if we do end up self-releasing this, it still won't be as hands-on as the last record was; I'm not going to cut the covers myself and paint every CD (the stamp is all worn down now). It's kind of sad I guess, it's always nice to send each person a personally crafted item, but I'm really not all that bummed about the change. I've spent so much time making copies and I think I've gotten all I'm going to get from that kind of experience. I'd rather not use up that kind of time now, when I could be spending it working on a song, or at least making something new, not copy after copy. 

OCM Finishing Art College did put some restraints on your music aspirations. What specifically did you gain from that experience, and how has it informed your music? Any regrets? 

FQ It put physical restraints on it for sure. My original, totally unrealistic plan was to record an album every summer after I did Freshman Year, so the next one would naturally be called Sophomore Year, and so on. I didn't realize that I just can't write that fast. My sophomore year of college was a major dry spell in terms of song writing; I think I wrote maybe six songs that year and I only play three of them today. Plus I always get stressed over school, and sophomore year I spent mostly making bad paintings and working on my poetry and screenwriting homework (I wrote the worst screenplay; it was about house painters). But on the flip side, I also went on my first tour while I was a sophomore, during winter break. Dom and I went for 11 days, and he was in school too. It was a huge deal, for both of us. Dom and I would probably never have met if I hadn't gone to art school. And Freshman Year is self-explanatory, I wrote most of those songs during my first school year; furthermore, I blame it for the worst grades I received during my college education, which I got the spring semester when I was a freshman. I spent so much time recording rough drafts of Bruno is Orange, Elizabeth and Elizabeth, Two Kids, and so on; I neglected classes a little bit. It was cool though, my roommates gave me a lot of feedback whenever I'd show them a song (two of them being musicians: Wheatie Mattiasich and Molly O'Connell of Hittie Titty), and they usually helped me record them too. So my first year was actually a bigger deal for me as a musician than it was as a visual artist (I made some really awful paintings that year). After that I did get pretty caught up in school, doing more ambitious paintings (after sophomore year all my paintings have been no smaller than 6' x 7' or so) and investing more and more time in increasingly demanding classes. But every school year I still managed to go out on a little tour. My second one with Wheatie and Molly during winter break of junior year, and the third with Dom again during spring of senior year. Besides that, college is an incredible vehicle for discovering/ being shown new music. My freshman year was when Molly showed me Kimya Dawson and Joanna Newsom, sophomore year I heard Herman Dune and the Microphones (again Molly's doing) and Jonathon Richman and Zoe Keating, and it never stopped. It did a lot for me, certainly as a musician, and I always listened to that stuff while working. Music that creates space helps a lot when you're trying to build a visual space from scratch. Practically every painter I know works to music, and the ones who don't I automatically consider snobs. Regrets? I wish I could remember what I learned about building your own website. That happened my freshman year, spring semester. 

 OCM Any cool plans for the physical art on the hard copy of the new release? FQ Yes, very big, very vague plans. I know I want it to involve printmaking again (the cover of Freshman Year was result of the first etching I ever did), I've been talking to my former professor, who taught me lithography (it ended up being one of my favorite classes) and we might collaborate on something. I have no idea what the image will be at this point, but I'm thinking something over spilling or billowing maybe, with sparse color, if any. But I could be completely off. I always end up going way off course when it comes to planning a visual project and then realizing it. 

OCM Your songwriting and song structure is unusual in what way has it evolved since your last release? What changes can fans look forward to? 

FQ I guess I sort of answered a lot of this in the second question, since a great deal of songwriting happens for me during the recording process. It probably always will. But overall, I've gotten better at experimenting with a song without losing track of a central tone. The band has really helped me do that and filling a song's major form out during the first stages too, with less of a dependence on the later extra sounds, on bells and novelty. Those things can do a lot, I love them, but I'm relieved that I'm not putting a toy piano in every single song I record now. Now it'll have some personality when it shows up. I've also started writing more personal songs, more directly related to my own life and more mature. All in all, it's less cute. I hope fans can look forward to some of that. They can at least look forward to the cameos of a trumpet, the sound of knives being sharpened, and some badass ragtime piano. 
OCM You do not have typical fans they enjoy a broad variety of genres, yet they are drawn to your music. Has that helped you in the sense of not being pigeonholed in terms of sharing the bill with bands that represent a very different sensibility and genre? 

FQ I've been pretty lucky in that regard. Not only have I had the opportunity to play with some really unique and exciting bands (like WHY? and Fake Problems), I've also met a broad range of talented people with whom I occasionally get to work on music. Recently I became friends with a subject of one of your interviews, the B3nson collective, a perfect example of a broad variety of bands sharing a collective aim, that's to help one another realize visions and ideas, and to do it in ways one would not typically expect. Their music is full of surprise and adventure, and it's because they aren't afraid to delve into unexplored territory. I've tried to be careful in the sense that I don't try to surround myself with people trying to do the same thing as me. And playing with so many different bands reminds me that there's so much new territory still available. It encourages me to be unafraid. 

OCM Just curious how you were received touring with the punk outfit Fake Problems a few years ago? 

FQ Wheatie and I were so nervous about being totally overshadowed by a raucous punk band, we'd never toured the south and didn't know what to expect as far as a reception, but the shows were amazing, people were really kind and attentive and a good number of kids in every city came and spoke with us after our sets. I think Wheatie and I both benefited from a well-rounded audience after that tour. Plus every single guy in Fake Problems is, as my mom would put it, real good people. I got to hear their new record and it's unbelievable. Plus I met one of my new favorite bands, P.S. Eliot, through them. 
OCM How did the upcoming benefit show with Kimya Dawson come about? 

FQ It's funny, I was asked to play this show before the band even existed, way back in April. I'm not sure how it came about. Carter, who runs the Common Grounds Coffee House in Dobbs Ferry, e-mailed me and said he liked my songs and could I play a show with Kimya Dawson in December. He's a super nice guy, he came to a show Dom and I played together at ABC No Rio over the summer, and he's excited to have the whole band come up and play. I don't know what made him pick us. It must have been magic. It's been a pretty magical year, all in all. I get to play with someone who was one of the greatest influences on my musical development, and I'm in a band. I don't think I've ever felt so full of potential, it's like from now on I have no excuse to do anything but get better. Once you are shown your capacity for improvement, as an artist or a human being, you can't go backwards to exactly what you were without a sense of artificiality. You can't turn around without losing some of yourself. I'll take some of the old things with me, I have to, but I can't ever go back now.


Hop Along Queen Ansleis/ Great Cover Song

This is just too good! I had to share it! It's easy to spread around, so press the envelope and make someone happy!


Hop Along Queen Ansleis

I recently saw an acoustic set by Hop Along Queen Ansleis at the 92nd Street Y. She was one of the performers at a free high school guitar day workshop and performance series coordinated by Guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery, the Y's Guitar Institute artistic director.

I've seen her many times, but after seeing her that day, I was thrilled with the new direction of her singing, phrasing, and song structure. Without losing her originality, she has matured in her writing and delivery.

If You Make It

To all my readers, enjoy this Pink Couch Session of Hop Along Queen Ansleis.
David Garwacke, creator of a wonderful new site called If You Make It, films the Pink Couch Sessions. If you stay tuned, he will upload Hop Along on the Pink Couch, performing her arrangement of Billy Idol's song "Dancing with Myself". This is an amazing cover!!

This site is true to its intentions, and Dave has been doing a great job sharing the talents of many independent bands and acoustic performers. If You Make It is on my radar.


Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles at the Rock Star Bar

Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles tear it up unplugged at the Rock Star Bar. After performing “I Love To Dance,” technical sound difficulties ensued. Langhorne Slim, Malachi Delorenzo, and Paul Defiglia made a decision to unplug the defunct PA system and go ahead with the show. And so they did…

The supportive crowd quickly took their places on the stage platform and closely packed the surrounding areas. Being close to the band, the crowd assumed the responsibilities of a supporting cast of veteran “War Eagles.”

Together they did a fifteen-song set of old and new material, including encores that didn’t take much prompting. In the song “Checking Out,” the audience weighed in with / I’m going home, I’m coming home / that’s where I’m going / building momentum. During “Restless,” the crowd/ band did their best. Langhorne, as a band leader, reprimanded us like a loving parent. Smiling, he said, “You got to learn the song.”

Crammed together and in it together, Mr. Slim still found space for his convoluted antics. He strutted with his guitar in the confined space, made priceless facial expressions, and sang on a drum set to maximize his voice level. Malachi subdued his usual drumming intensity and picked it up only for effect. Paul lent support on bass, playing some fine solo interludes. With little room to breathe, they never missed a beat.

Tonight sealed my belief in this band’s ability to connect with an audience. They have heart, authenticity, talent, and a love for music performance that sets them apart from other bands. Whether they are opening for the Pogues at Irving Plaza or playing acoustically at the Rockstar Bar, Langhorne Slim knows how to deliver.

This curated night of music at the Rock Star Bar rarely happens in the music scene today. The night's mix of eclectic music styles created an atmosphere that celebrates the diversity of the genre. In between acts, music tracks set a mood with songs by Hank Williams III, Musical Youth, Mongo Joy, and a few awesome recordings of the one-man band Abner Jay.

The night started colorfully with a cover band that did a fine job channeling Janis Joplin. Janis appeared in the form of a man extravagantly dressed to replicate. This was the only band not part of the original lineup but was a fun opening.

Jazz duo Tyler Miller, vocalist, guitar player, and trumpeter Dan Blanketchip played jazz standards. We were treated to tunes like “Saint James Infirmary,” "Dinah," and "Honeysuckle Rose." They exchanged duties throughout the set. The trumpet playing was pristine, while Tyler played guitar with ease and dexterity. His vocals were perfect.

The mood switched gears as the stylish Honne Wells stepped onto the platform and slowly sat with the guitar in hand. He steps, picks, slides, whistles, and sings with a voice that has never seen the light of day. He brings reverence and humor, channeling a slice of Americana with a refreshing new twist.

The time was r
ight for the upbeat original folk styling of Hop Along Queen Ansleis. Her fans gravitated towards her as she began her set with “Spinach Water,” holding a small touring guitar. She glowed and emanated joy as her powerful voice reached a range of high octaves with ease and veracity. Her set was a mix of favorites from her 2005 debut, “Freshman Year,” and new tunes soon to be recorded. She sang an outstanding cover of Hank William's “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It rang with originality and was so beautifully arranged I almost didn’t recognize it. She is a captivating performer ready for a wider audience.

The crowd wa
s unprepared for the Charm City Drug Band but thoroughly embraced their NY debut performance. This Baltimore collective assembled its instruments on-site. Finding anything that can be banged, rubbed, or hammered at the bar. The night’s set up was a plastic bin, metal piping, wooden dowels, a metal urn, and discarded refrigerated shelving propped up against the back wall of the platform. The improvisational clatter beat and surged organically, creating a beguiling sound. The audience was perked with interest. As the players went into overdrive, so did the PA.

The PA failure led to a delightful accident that propelled Langhorne Slim's impromptu acoustic session. The melding of great musicians was no accident. They were a sampling of one person’s eclectic and passionate taste and, in my opinion, a masterful night of music.

04 /19 / 07 Rock Star Bar lineup curated by: Marlon Ziello
Related articles by Obsession Collection: Langhorne Slim

Hop Along Queen Ansleis
Honne Wells
Rock Star Bar 04 /19/ 2007
Click on picture for Album Link / pictures by Artifact.


Hop Along Queen Ansleis and Wheatie Mattiasich Winter Toast Tour

WILL WARM UP THE NEW YEAR! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! From New York to Austin / Hop Along Queen Ansleis /The Smiling Folk Queen, and Wheatie Mattiasich / The Folk-Lore Goddess, are doing a winter tour. Knitting Factory (taproom) Illinois, Deertick, Honne Wells and The Feverfew are on the bill. The Feverfew will be traveling down to Richmond. Then the Folk team stops in Athens, Georgia, the home of the Wildebeest. They then join Fake Problems for a seven-stop tour from Florida to New Orleans. Other bands to play along the way are; Murdock's Revenge, Judy Garland Death Squad, The Ackley's, and The Robinsons.  So don't be toast! Get out there and warm the spirit, join the fun and toast the new year listening to fantastic, diverse, and original music!!


Hop Along Queen Ansleis, Smiling Folk Queen

Frances Quinlan, AKA Hop Along Queen Ansleis, is refreshingly original. Her voice has a wide octave range that rises and falls with complete abandon. She never holds back. She tells stories, fills songs with many words and images, and delivers them at machine gun pace. Within a second, her voice can suddenly fall to a whisper or a hum, only to rise again with unprecedented veracity. Usually, singers with that range work slowly and build to a crescendo, never surprising the listener. To me, that is just sappy and easy. 

In her full-length Freshman Year, she utilizes many instruments to create a sound that is distinctively her own. She incorporates a variety of bells, whistles, shakers, small cymbals, toys, and kazoos. The guitar is strummed and beat, hands are clapping, and the banjo, organ, and keyboards are added into the mix. While all of these instruments work their magic in a folk-like recipe, various voice tracks come in to create a feast. On a first listen, the tracks are so joyous and uplifting that her exceptional writing can be overlooked. She doesn’t rhyme or create verses, choruses, or bridges. The writing is atypical, with childlike references like the hot air balloon, the rusty trampoline, swollen boats, and a sea of concrete. These references pertain to family, friends, roommates, and childhood memories. She writes childlike dream sequences from an adult perspective and with scripted and running personal conversations. In the track “The Cactus,” she sings, “I wish somebody’d up and save me, save me, save me,” which builds, and the listener wishes to be saved. My favorite line in the song “For Sebastian From A Friend,” which she delivers with conviction, “Your guidance counselor was wrong, Hop Along sing your song. “ Advice people get along the way is usually misinformed or clueless. And writing like this, “I ain't no artist, I oughta be the dirt along the ocean floor /so when it drains I'll float to shore / now scathingly I'll throw the paint along my..."

The essence of what you hear on this CD, she can accomplish live without all the instrumentation. In January of this year, I saw her at Matchless in Brooklyn. There was a nice showing of her fan base, but the rest of the crowded bar didn't know her. The fans were up close and embracing Frances. She started the set using her guitar as percussion, and after she sang the first note, everyone moved forward. The bar was silent. People stood on barstools to get a better look. As the set continued, the audience clapped, stomped, and sang along appropriately. It is a joy watching her look up to recall every word and nuance, smiling from ear to ear, and singing to the rafters!!

Freshman year was Hop Along's first effort, which is remarkable. She is currently working on another full-length. Can't wait!!!

Freshman Year LP