eugene francis jnr & the juniors
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eugene francis jnr & the juniors

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After an abortive attempt at indie success with Kaptainblack (Cardiff's answer to Pixies), popular success with Dirty Perfect (Cardiff's answer to Weezer), 30-year-old singer/songwriter Kris Williams reinvented himself as Eugene Francis Jnr. Mining US folk and country roots, Francis pays homage to traditional American music — albeit with an electronic twist here and there. Though the sound of these hills may be more Wichita than Wales, Francis' instrumental mastery and poetic lyrics easily span the gap. Now performing with a live band to deliver his gloriously ragged sing-alongs fused with synth experimentation, this old talent has been reborn with a newfound maturity - Flavourpil magazine


Ok so here’s the scenario five guys, two girls all in matching thunderbird style hats and jackets complete with the individuals Jnr initials on show, the lead singer and mastermind behind all this is Eugene Francis Junior sporting an apache style head dress and Captain America shield to boot !! Now you can forgive me for thinking gimmicky straight away but I was yet to hear the sound these life like Gerry Andersons were to produce.


The first track was good enough and it perfectly put you in the mood for things to come gentle guitar and harmonies overlapping layers of instruments and dash of electronics for good measure giving you a warm rising feeling. Next up was the new single Poor Me which was absolutely brilliant starting with some light keyboard then the plucking of some beautiful guitar , the sound slowly building up with vocals and the tinkering of bells then it’s all off. This is the perfect track for the summer you can just imagine lots of happy festival goers bopping around barefoot with glasses of Pims grinning away.

The rest of the set continued like this with great crowd interaction including throwing out little egg shakers to all, who then in turn shook along in time with the band. Other stand out tracks were Kite and Hobo Occupation which was stomping with the main man EFJ himself doing a funky little two step between singing into two microphones. The night was full of smiles and happy faces finishing with a fantastic track possibly called Pollution, I’m not sure, but it went down a storm.

Hinting of the likes of early ambient Orb or Aphex Twin mixed with country folk and the lyrics of say someone as great as Dylan. EFJ has dubbed the sound as being 'Folktronica' I can’t say I’m a fan of the word but it does sum them up perfectly.

Hopefully this band will be doing the festival circuits this year as I’d love to see them again and can’t recommend them enough, fingers crossed Poor Me will be for this summer like Peter Bjorn and Johns ' Young Folks was for last, they definitely deserve it and I wish them every success. - MusicNews


Eugene Francis Jr, a Welsh musical wizard and accomplished solo act in his own right, has taken to recruiting six thoroughly accomplished followers, plucked from the cream of the Welsh indie scene. Together they forge a collective supergroup akin to the Flaming Lips of Cymru. Space age, dream world, leftfield folktronica to stimulate, invigorate and carry you off on a computerised paper aeroplane of happiness.

‘Poor Me’ runs on an electronic keyboard bubble destined to force it’s way through the greater stratospheric consciousness and make the world wondrous in 2007 and beyond, with streets full of people whistling that gleeful jibber. Not wholly unlike Sufjan Stevens magical ‘Chicago’, this is perfect enchanting pop at it’s finest. Like Wayne Coyne calling his army of foam hands and human teddy bears to a love march down the yellow brick road.

‘Kites’ takes a more Devandra Banhart, Vetiver et al vibe. Hypnotic sitar like star guitars and lighter than air atmospherics. As uplifting as you might expect from the metaphor, will pick you up dust you down and paint a shining grin on your face. Understated beauty through and through.

A thoroughly excellent debut double A-side not to be ignored. It will surely capture the imagination of anyone who hears it. A perfect soundtrack to lying on a hill and watching the summer clouds roll by, Eugene Francis and his genius juniors will make your world that little bit more magical a place.

By Martin Kendrick - noise makes enemies


This lofty singer / songwriter claims to be a 'cynically tortured' boho Welshman raised by an apache Indian and an Inuit Eskimo... So it should come as no surprise that he takes to the stage tonight complete with feathered head-dress and a plastic shield.

Bizarre outfits aside, Eugene Francis makes compellingly beautiful, harmonica-tinged ditties and these are finally able to shine once he ditches the props halfway through and starts to banter warmly with the crowd. Eccentric, yes, but loveably so.

Camilla Pia (Sept.07) - The Fly (national press)


'Debut AA side from the Welshman, Poor Me and Kites are two delightful folk songs that showcase the exquisite songwriting style of this artist. Instrumentally understated and rich in melody, this is a promising introduction that should serve as a strong introduction to his talents' - music week


A Eugene Francis Jnr gig is witnessing something special – it is an event!" – Marsha Shandur, Xfm - XFM


DONT PITY EUGENE FRANCIS JNR: HIS DEBUT SINGLE IS ONE OF THE MOST EUPHORIC OF THE SUMMER

Troubadour is a word that tends to be loosely applied to any guitar-toting scruff who has ever slept rough on a park bench. But in the case of Eugene Francis Jnr is is a term that is certainly appropriate. Born in Wales and of both Apache Native American and Inuit descent, a nomadic youth saw him living in South Africa, San Francisco, Australia and the London, all before many people have finished their 1st year at university.

Brief stints in such forgotten outfits as Kaptainblack, Dirty Perfect and the Peel-endorsed Fantastic Super Foofs followed, but now Francis has taken his many life experiences, a wealth of musical ideas and what must presumably be more than a few Air Miles and invested them in a baroque solo project.

Out now, his double A-sided single, POOR ME/KITES, is a quiet, lo-fir revelation;an aurally rich combination of melodic brilliance; harmonies of childlike innocence and the kind of euphoric lyrics that might have been written to encourage a depressive to make the leap from merely existing to actually living. Like the glorious clamour of Canada's Broken Social Scene, these two tracks could be the soundtrack to the first day of the rest of your life. As Francis explains, an epiphany is what he aims for.

'It's an appeal for humanism, in the sense that maybe we are all foreigners here and we are waiting to go home,' he says of the single, making no apologies for his hippyish stance. 'But while we are here we may as well live in unison with one another and create a set of beliefs that apply to all of us as humans.'

When it comes to playing live, Francis often relies on what he calls the 'cream of Cardiff's music scene' to back him up. Comprised of the largely excellent slo-core outfit Vito as well as folk-minded acts Broken Leaf and Lindsey Leven. The Juniors are trusted onstage accomplices. But it's the single-minded Francis who leads creatively from the front.

'I think great music has to be inspired by something like that for people to respond to it,' he asserts. 'There's no denying how good an album like Definately Maybe is because Liam Gallagher was singing about the experiences of working-class lads in Manchester and what they want out of life. When people just gloat about what they have, it's not anything like as resonant for most people. That's partly why I'm so confident this will succeed.'

The time to test his theory will soon come: Francis is currently putting the finishing touches to his debut album, THE GOLDEN BEATLE. Due for release in winter, chances are that the amount of bling-based braggadocio to be heard on it will be minimal. And, given the fact he has plundered all his wordly experience to create it, it's understandable Francis would want his music to last a little longer than the typical 18-month album cycle.

'A song is only good if it's about something that interests me,' he says. 'If you want a song to outlive you then it has to be something that people can relate to, otherwise it'll only ever be a party anthem that you'll listen to for a couple of months in the summer. After that, it's just a song of nostalgia. I want more that that for my music.'

If it continues to be as good as Poor Me, there is every chance he will get his wish.

- METRO MAGAZINE nationwide


“IT’S too darn hot” as Lady Ella would sing. All around Club Academy there is mascara running, sweat rings forming and once fashionable hair styles collapsing in the heat, with many people getting irritable, so it would seem opening act, Eugene Francis Jr, has his work well and truly cut out for him tonight.

Appearing onstage wearing a head-dress, a Captain America plastic shield (as you do) and with just a battered guitar for back up, the Welsh-born songwriter sets about showcasing stripped down, acoustic versions of tracks from his forthcoming solo debut, ‘The Golden Beatle’.

When shorn of all manner of processed sounds Eugene’s songs take on a different light - less Postal Service, more Nick Drake - with his dexterous finger picking impressive throughout, serving his impassioned voice nicely, and there is even a ripple of recognition that goes up for debut single, ‘Poor Me’.

Whilst new to most he’ll certainly not be forgotten in a hurry by the people in the audience that are paying attention.

4/5 - Manchester Evening News


Hoping to become the next new hot Welsh music export after 'The Stereophonics', Eugene francis is making music that i feel has kind of been slacking of late. Where is all the innovative yet dreamlike, cascading yet elevating, howling singing folktronica? Huh? Multilayered junk shop samples, clattering dusty drums and sweet surreal synths blanket Eugene Francis' empowered voice. A little Patrick Wolf, a little Manitoba - yup his early stuff before the Dick Manitoba lawsuit and the Caribou phoenix-from-the-flames escapade - Eugene Francis is an underground star with a cult following (previously championed by John Peel), ready to spread his tales of optimism and life loving to the masses. Stand up tall whilst being awat with the fairies. - One Week to Live


It is worth stating at the outset that this particular gig not only sets a new benchmark in terms of innovation, ambition and creativity, but was also hailed by the music-lovin’ 80-strong crowd present as one of the most memorable and breathtaking performances of the year.

To mark the single launch of Eugene Francis Jnr and The Juniors double A-side release Poor Me/Kites Cardiff Bay’s hallowed Norwegian Church serves as the perfect venue, with the haunting acoustics of its wooden panelled interior, lofty balcony and fancy lighting rig.

Amongst a flamboyant array of day-glo cut-out fish, and bathed in a golden spotlight Lindsey Leven takes to the stage to perform magical acoustic lullabies that make you want to gather your petticoat and run to the hills. Set highlight Racing Snails showcases Leven’s lyrical finger picking and her backing band’s purring harmonics. Delivered by a voice so sweetly lilting the songs carry you away to hazy summer afternoons lost to watching the clouds roll by.

Following rapturous applause after Leven’s performance it is announced that Jakokoyak will be performing “live from a church in Norway”, and a bemused audience turns its attention to a projector where Jakokoyak is shown to be playing his ambient synth-led electronica on mock-Norwegian television. Elaborate, surreal and tongue-in-cheek - yet it hardly prepares us for Eugene’s box of tricks.

With a Captain America shield at his elbow, and his junior electric acoustic under his arm, Eugene Francis Junior launches solo into his inimitable angst-ridden heart-driven folk. Gazing up at the balcony with eyes wide and wild the captivated audience is cast under his spell. Two songs in, the enigmatic frontman is joined by The Juniors identically clad in matching tunics with their initials sewn onto the breasts. Now donning a spectacular Indian headdress Eugene Francis Jnr and The Juniors treat us to a set of soulful, emotive and confessional songs delivered in a style that swings between country, folk and catchy indie-pop. Their vibrant music bursts at its technicoloured seams with honeyed harmonies and pedal steel guitar, and, for the icing on the cake, the band throw dozens of shakers into the crowd for ultimate audience participation in their rhythmic carnival of a finale Hobo Occupation. As far as Cardiff’s best kept secret is concerned… well, they won’t be a secret for much longer!

Review by Ria Poole 10/08/2007
- TUBORG _ LOUD AND CLEAR


Discography

Poor Me / Kites - double a-side single x

The Golden Beatle - Debut Album x

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Bio

EUGENE FRANCIS JNR and the juniors

The history:

On March 8th 1977 at 8.13am Eugene Francis Jnr emerged into our world, for 2 reasons

a. to make music
b. so that ‘International Women’s Day’ would be officially recognised

9 months earlier it is believed that a chivalrous, Apache Indian made love to an exquisite, Inuit Eskimo under the timid Welsh sun. The couple were very much in love but also very much in hiding.

They travelled with Eugene from continent to continent, in search of work and enlightenment. They were stubborn nomads, who in turn raised an unshakable hippy…but their taste in music was impeccable

Eugene Francis was raised on Country, Blues and Folk Music, although when he misbehaved his parents made him listen to 80’Synth-Pop or Ambient.

After returning to London to study the stars and the planets at University, Eugene Francis decided to capitalise on being in the nation’s capital and got busy playing in as many different bands as possible:

Eugene Francis played and wrote songs in ‘the fantastic super foofs’ (releasing 3 singles ‘bilo boss’, ‘devan endo’ & ‘timmy zuckermann’ on Floating Toast / Fuzzbox) which were championed by Lamacq and Sir John Peel for there loungey melodies. Their lack of musical depth however, meant that they also lacked record sales.

Eugene Francis played and wrote songs in ‘kaptainblack’ (releasing one album ‘in fertility’ on Mighty Atom) which was saluted in Europe as gravel-throated ‘Blunktry’ music. However, it didn’t take long to find its way quickly and surely to the discount bin of most UK independent stores.

Eugene Francis got paid to play and write songs with ‘dirty perfect’ (releasing one EP and one single ‘quarterback hairdo’ on Sound Foundation Recordings) which was giving the thumbs up by teenage girls and boys. However, in his own words ‘the publishing salary and the novelty of having a GPS in the van outshone the experience itself.’

Bored and fed up. Eugene Francis packed his little, junior guitar, and some threads and headed off to America on a Kerouac. During a late lock-in @ The White Horse Tavern (NYC) under the watchful eye of Dylan Thomas. Eugene Francis was enlightened by a friend who told him to move away from the pop-rock music he had been making and look for something to call his own.

Up to the challenge Eugene Francis headed back home to the Welsh Hills to start work.

Just like the construction of chitty-chitty-bang-bang, he disappeared to work on his project behind locked doors. He emerged 4 months later holding in his hand the proposed album ‘The Golden Beatle’ and the word ‘Folktronica’ would never be the same.

Now he needed a band, to reproduce the layers of instruments and percussion…

Not just any old band, an elite band, a concept band: ‘The Juniors’

Drawing from some of the best bands / musical individuals of the current Welsh Music Scene (Lindsey Leven, Llion Robertson, Manchuko) Eugene Francis Jnr has assembled a democracy, which he calls ‘a harmonious, beatnik-supergroup’

And now they plan to take over the world, this one and the next

With Poor Me / Kites being the double A-side Ltd Edition Vinyl. and the album 'The Golden Beatle' released in July 2008, this could be the year where even the heavens will hear about ‘Eugene Francis Jnr and the juniors’ x