Philosofree Optimysts – Singles Review
Always an interesting thing to examine some songs off a record and be steered upon request past the others…which is what we’ve got here today in review when discussing five of the songs from Philosofree Optimysts from their album Optim.M.mystix; I’ve pointed out in a few reviews throughout these past years that this action can often lead to more questions than it does answer them. I’m not going to go down that route today…I went ahead and listened to this record in-full several times, but if a full opinion isn’t what they’re after – I’m fully willing to comply with that. Two main reasons being a head-cold that’s been brewing like a storm in my entire face for the past twenty-four hours…and well…the last band I commented about this way of promoting music treated me like a band full of asshats. So today…I’ll keep the quirkiness of this concept and why it’s a strange one to myself and just concentrate on the music that I’m being pointed towards…here we go!
What I really did enjoy about Philosofree in researching the band & music was learning about the story that led them here to this album. It doesn’t sound like it would be an easy thing to arrange – all three of the members of this band are coming from all-corners of the globe it would seem. Philosofree himself is based in Australia, Mirian is Canadian and Sam is from Egypt…so one can only imagine how difficult it might be to coordinate schedules…but by that same token, what a beautiful thing that is right? One of the absolute best parts of being a part of an online world is that we get the freedom to find players of similar intentions, mindset, beliefs, skills…whatever it is you’re looking for, it no longer needs to be found directly where you physically live. I admire bands like this…and it certainly started my impression of this band in a positive direction.
Hearing fellow-Canadian Mirian’s voice beaming with beauty and confidence right off the bat in a song called “Soul Doubt” kept it flowing in that positive direction. A seriously powerful and expressive singer…this song builds in all-kinds of impressive ways as the music around her incorporates notable instrumentation that cleverly comes together in a stunning performance from the band of three. You’ll hear horns, strings, drums, guitar, vocals and so much more through the positive & uplifting messages that drive “Soul Doubt” and you can quickly venture a guess that much of what we’ll hear from Philosofree and these Optimystics is going to be ALL based in a positive mindset and vibe. I loved the way that the backing vocals came in to existence on “Soul Doubt” for the chorus and created an undeniably powerful moment in music. And even though starting into an album at track number three for a music-reviewer is a lot like being told to eat your carrots first before touching any of the other food on your plate…right now I’m willing to overlook the added direction based on the strength of the music in this first experience.
“Green Light (If She Can, She Will)” is the next track we’re looking at, listening to and examining. A barrage of vocal-imagery supporting the title of this tune echoes throughout the lyrics…great beat, great tempo on this tune. I loved the saxophone in this track…the guitars were fantastic…and I felt like once again we get a lot of confidence on the microphone in the vocal department. All three of the players sing in this collaborative project…in addition to a ton of background singers as well…but I’m 90% sure it’s Philosofree himself that you’re hearing in the lead of “Green Light (If She Can, She Will). The performance between all these players sits somewhere in between The B-52’s and Frank Zappa – there’s a madness to the vocals that’s addicting in its energy and the music itself is righteously well-played. Dipping into a much more funk-rock inspired groove – “Green Light (If She Can, She Will) moves freely as can be within its controlled environment…this is good stuff!
The next track for me was a lot tougher. “You Are My Inspiration” has a bit of a strange-mix to it…which you don’t really notice until the added vocals and brightness of Mirian take hold of the chorus. She sounds great mind you; probably just a bit too much above the rest of what’s happening in the music. I mentioned from the get-go that she’s a very powerful singer…and perhaps in the mix here she’s a bit overpowering and either needs to come down slightly into the mix, or the rest come up to join her. The opening vocals are completely awesome…I’m thinking that’s Philosofree with the massive growl & rasp combination that’s VERY Zappa-esque. Many people will get that sound confused for Tom Waits in this scenario…but they’d be wrong – that’s 110% Zappa in its sound and intentions.
That being said…it’s rare that I’m a huge fan of Inception-style songs about songs…which is kind of what this one really boils down to. I found myself wishing in many ways that the song stuck with its first couple gears before those main switches into the chorus…I can appreciate where they’re coming from here – this is a song for YOU…a true nod to how the people moving on the dance-floor serve as the inspiration for musicians wanting to give their best onstage. It’s that self-fulfilling prophecy…a musician’s circle of life whereby if you’re making good music, the people are out there on the dance-floor and packing themselves into the space in front of you as you play…and the more people there are, the more likely that performance is going to continue to rise-up to the occasion and the band will sound even better than what brought the people down there in the first place. Then more people come…then the band finds more ways to bring their A-game…which attracts more people to the dance-floor, so on and so on. I get it…so would any musician out there for sure…but if you’re typically finding yourself out there as an audience member, “You Are My Inspiration” would be a great track to listen to in effort to understand what drives the players onstage to be at their very best.
“Plasticup” is quite an amazing little ditty. It races by at under three minutes with impressive guitars…possibly maybe mandolin in there as well…excellent percussion and highly innovative music being made by these three players fueling a clever performance executed with audible brilliance. I mean…are those SPOONS being played on this one? I’m not entirely sure that it’s not! Whatever the core genetic makeup of their music is on this song – it’s certainly worth the adventure and listening to…really cool stuff happening here. It might lyrically slightly be…umm…a lot more direct than what typically draws me in – but that being said, it’s impossible to deny that this is a concept in full-bloom of its intentions. From the lyrics to the music, to the performances and production – “Plasticup” is about as perfect as you could ever create a song and ask it to be…hard to fault them on anything here…any observations you’ll make will largely reflect your own personal taste as there is simply no denying the amount of skill, hard-work and effort put into a performance like this. Reminds me a lot of Vancouver Island’s own (and YOUR SBS Reader-Voted best new sound of last year) West My Friend – I bet these two bands would have an endless good time if they were to ever get together!
Ending my time with Philosofree Optimysts was a song called “Fragrances” – which is about as versatile as a song can be. Truly entertaining and seriously unique…you’re not apt to find many songs or sounds like this out there right now…and I can certainly appreciate that. Of course in saying something like that, it implies the obvious uphill nature that they’ll be climbing for acceptance out there, whether it’s through the radio-stations, YouTube channels or your own very ears…but they would already be well-aware of that. The important thing is that YOU out there understand that…and that you give it a chance! The creative and innovative melody and subtle-rhythms that drive “Fragrances” are absolutely different than at least 99% of your playlists…and I’m hoping our readers still have the same wonderful attitudes they’ve always had…and that they continue to check out the beautifully unique avenues that inventive minds like this will lead them down. “Fragrances” has all the personality you can fit into a single song…and though it’s not the full-album we’re examining here today…I can still vouch for this being the excellent ending to a listening experience with Philosofree Optimysts as you could hope for. It’s a strange, beautiful & bizarre tune but was truly one of my favorites of the five…and overall, I can’t imagine I’d ever forget hearing this highly creative band for the first time.
Because they’ve stood out, through everything I’ve heard with bold creativity and immensely innovative tunes that are no doubt able to impact your ears just as much as they did mine today. For me personally, that all leads to a truly memorable experience with measurable impact made through the music…and the sampling of these five tunes made it so that I wanted to hear more of what they were up to. And so of course, I did by checking out the rest of the record.
But that’s another story, for another time my friends.
Find out more about Philosofree Optimysts here: http://www.philcheney.com/