Music, I think most of you would agree, is primarily about emotional experiences. So when people claim that so-and-so is their “favorite artist of all time,” I sometimes have a hard time believing their statement because well, Ghostface Killah may be a skilled rapper, but I don’t think he really resonates with a lot of people on a personal level. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to share with you one of my Favorite Artists of All Time. He’s a poet, a drunk, a chain-smoker, and a self-described “skinny, half-arsed English country singer.” He was crazy enough to get a tattoo on-camera as a part of his latest music video. His name is Frank Turner.
I first learned about Frank when I was in a bar down in San Luis Obispo a few years ago to see a completely different band (the equally brilliant Murder By Death). After a few pints, my friends and I settled back to watch the opening act – some English guy with an acoustic guitar that we had never heard of. But he was incredible. Soulful, hilarious, musically gifted, and maybe just a little drunk, he laid down about an hour’s worth of solo acoustic material that managed to strike a chord in me – pun definitely intended.
After that fateful night, though, I completely forgot about Frank for over a year, when another one of my friends handed me a mixtape containing some English guy with an acoustic guitar covering Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” Suddenly my memory was jogged, and that fateful night in that random bar came flooding back. I was suddenly hooked. I scoured the world for this man’s music, devouring his solo albums first, and then by a stroke of providence finding his material from his first band, London punks Million Dead. Since then, I’ve hung on his every move, and never been disappointed.
So here are a few words about his music. Frank grew up in Winchester, England, went to school in London, and has been in the music scene for over a decade, releasing three albums with his first band, Kneejerk, two albums with Million Dead, and a solo discography of three studio albums, a full-length live album and DVD, four EPs, and another studio album set to be released so soon I’m already drooling. His music has influences stretching from Springsteen and Dylan to the Sex Pistols and Rancid, with a solid dash of traditional English folk music to top it all off. Last fall, I was lucky enough to see him perform at the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles, and snagged this video of his latest single, the raucous “I Still Believe”:
In these days of insipid genre-squabbling, I find artists like Frank Turner to be more than just a unique spin on things – they represent a movement that celebrates the joy of music, not the currently trendy “us against them” mentality. Because, after all, something as simple as rock and roll can save us all.
- The one and only DJ Z