This week's "On Mondays I listen to..." music review features Ryan Frailich and his newest (January 2017) single, Beauty Queen. The much-anticipated single was released on January 14th and it couldn't have been better timed. As the Detroit winter carries on, Beauty Queen sends dreams of sticky, sweet, summer-y goodness from the West Coast.
Ryan Frailich is an artist in the Los Angeles, California music scene. He is known for his work as the guitarist in the psychedelic surf punk band The Aquadolls and as a producer for LA based Play Yah Records and Route 2 Recording Studios.
I found out about Ryan's projects a few years ago when I first started listening to The Aquadolls. I was completely hooked on their music. "Cool Cat" by The Aquadolls has long been one of my favorite tracks off their Stoked On You (2013) release. The track features Ryan Frailich as a songwriter and vocalist. When Ryan announced that he would be starting a solo career as well, I was very excited to see what he would create. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with Ryan and Play-Yah Records for my own music projects.
Beauty Queen is a track full of groovy surf vibes, '80s new wave synth pop, and '60s prom rock. Fans of Ryan's previous work will not be disappointed. To develop this wonderful mesh of genres, Ryan enlisted an impressive collection of talented musicians and solo artists, as listed below.
Melissa Brooks (The Aquadolls) - Synthesizer
Jacob Brown (The Aquadolls) - Percussion
Cori Estrell - Vocals
Jackson Jarett (The Grinns)- Guitar
Samuel Jacquet - 808
Ramtin Khoe (The Grinns) - Bass
James Leadbetter - Guitar
Zachary Mouton (Play Yah Records/Route 2 Recording Studios) - Synthesizer, Recording Engineer
Scott Wozniak - Piano
Eric H. - Saxophone
Produced by Ryan Frailich
(Ryan Frailich - Beauty Queen.)
Beauty Queen opens with an electronic drum beat, hinting a Bossa Nova type swing. This quickly builds with the help of a synthesizer and flows smoothly into Ryan's vocals. Guitar, keyboard, and percussion accompany his romantic "bad boy" lyrics.
"I met you after school on a Friday night
You said boy gonna make you feel alright
You kissed me in the back of your classic car
I said ooh baby baby lets not take this too far"
As the pre-chorus begins, a twinkling synth can be heard joining the mix. A saxophone follows with a feel good riff that reminds the listener of classic rom-coms and drive-in movie theaters.
"But you ain't like the other girls you're special to me
You've got stars in your eyes and you look like a beauty queenYou went to Hollywood
Ya they scared you so good
Was it a broken dream?
Or straight from a movie scene?"
Beauty Queen introduces the first instrumental break at 00:54. Funky guitar and bass riffs lay the groundwork for a saxophone solo. This section has a sound reminiscent of 80s new wave bands like Men At Work and Duran Duran.
At 01:33 the listener is brought out of the groovy trance and the vocals pick up again over a garage rock chord progression. The saxophone and twinkling synth follow the familiar pattern of the first verse and pre-chorus, which makes it all the more memorable.
"I like the way you rock ooh baby cuz you don't let me down
No no no no
Our love is like a song ooh baby you're all I sing about
Ya ya ya ya
And if loves a game baby I'm a fool
I knew when I met you after school
One look in your eyes I knew your were the one
Ooh baby baby lets have some fun"
A keyboard takes the solo for the next instrumental break at 02:04 and warm female backing vocals begin to sing "do-dos". The instrumental section takes turns focusing on each instrument. This creates an ever evolving, twirling atmosphere for the listener to be immersed in. The synthesizer grows and Beauty Queen introduces a fuzzy, electronic guitar solo to the song's ending. I really love the buzzing guitar tone.
As I listened to Ryan Frailich's Beauty Queen, I caught myself falling "head over heels" with the catchy music. You can't help but feel the gross, yet wonderful, mushy, teenage honeymoon love. It's the perfect single for any summer playlist.
Windows down, Beauty Queen on your radio. Happy vibes all around.
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