ms fridrich
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ms fridrich

Arlington, Virginia, United States | SELF

Arlington, Virginia, United States | SELF
Band Pop Rock




"Must See Concert: Ms. Fridrich At The Way Station"

"She comes across as a failed pop star, but not in a bad way ..."
- RockNYC

"You Call That Brave by Ms. Fridrich"

"Anxious pianos and confident vocals burst into satisfying hooks. The songs, while ostensibly pop, take more guidance from the Tom Waits school of slanted enchantment than the Brill Building...." - Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie album reviews

"First Listen, First Thoughts – Ms. Fridrich"

First Listen, First Thoughts – Ms. Fridrich
By ben · September 30, 2011 · Post a comment

Today’s choice is…

Artist: Ms. Fridrich
Song: “The Bills” from the album You Call That Brave
Suggester: / @oddmonstr


Because I’m all about making the internet a part of the democracy that is First Listen, First Thoughts, I solicited Twitter again to find me something to review from the theoretically great, but in practice frustrating as shit The only instructions I gave people were to find cool cover art or song titles or album names. When the dust settled tonight, I ended up with Ms. Fridrich. All I’m seeing of an album cover is a woman (who I presume to be the eponymous Ms. Fridrich) sitting on a bass/kick drum and a guy who reminds me of a bartender that I talked to in Seattle one night when Roxy and I were on the big trip across the country that left us at a place called the Lava Lounge. Anyway, the Bartender has his hand draped across a piano that I mistakenly thought was a Marshall half stack at first.

Who it sounds like (in my head) before I listen to the first note:

Elizabeth Elmore/The Reputation/Sarge: One of the best discoveries the internet ever gave me was Elizabeth Elmore who fronted first Sarge and then The Reputation, and while most of the catalog is up tempo pop punk, there’s this great song by The Reputation called “The Ugliness Kicking Around” off the To Force a Fate album. It’s piano driven and may even have some strings in it. There’s a lot of smarts and attitude in it that shakes you by the collar and makes you simultaneously ask yourself, “Why am I such an asshole/bitch?” and at the same time “Why do I let other people be assholes/bitches towards me?” I kinda feel like Ms. Fridrich might be smart and feisty in a same way because she’s strong enough to say, “You know what? I’m not even going to come up with a band name. Just let them know Ms. Fridrich is taking the stage.” I think it’s important enough to point out here that the way I explain Elizabeth Elmore’s appeal should not be confused with “Oooh, she’s an angry, shouty woman!” Anybody can dress up as Avril Lavigne and pretend to be that. It’s another matter entirely to come as genuinely tough without ever saying how tough you are.

Low: Even though the band name is all focused on her (supposing her name is actually Ms. Fridrich and it’s not some clever name stolen from a movie reference or something that once appeared in a comic book) maybe the music is a 50/50 split with her and the Seattle bartender guy playing lo-fi rock with some serious vocal harmonies. There isn’t all that much piano in the Low catalog, but there are songs like “When I Go Deaf” from The Great Destroyer that show you that there is sometimes nothing more sonically powerful than a man and a woman singing together.

Rainer Maria: I saw Rainer Maria in the basement of a church what seems like 15 years ago with my friend Rachel and her friend Dee Dee (whose dad was in the Replacements), and I remember liking the show at the time, but I was in a big hip hop phase and the Rainer Maria show didn’t resonate with me the same way it would today. What you get are some sweet and maybe a tinge vulnerable vocals. If you don’t know Rainer Maria I’d suggest starting with the album Look Now Look Again. Again, there isn’t any piano that I can remember, but it’s softer than Low, and I’m trying to avoid the easy comparisons like “Oh, I bet Ms. Fridrich sounds just like Tori Amos or Fiona Apple.”

Let’s shut off the Kaia, hit the reset button, and begin!

:01 Right away we get a bold, strong, voice that takes command of the song by tone and lyric. This sounds like it’s going to be heavy on the piano and maybe not so much with the other instruments.

:13 Missed that! Here comes some high energy–here’s an odd comparison–I hear a bit of the Dresden Dolls at this point.

1:04 I’ll stand by Elizabeth Elmore guess. The vocal delivery is similar especially philosophically.

1:22 We’ve got layered vocals and that makes me a happy boy. I’m really digging this. It’s got a good edge to it. Pardon my French, but this song is decidedly not fucking around. It is to the point and driving.

1:27 I’m also a sucker for Seattle Bartender’s drumming. He’s really in the pocket, but not boring, bashy 1,2,3,4. There’s some finesse there. Pretty fantastic.

1:43 Really cool breakdown. Yeah, I’m buying this. This is great.

2:17 These two are really in sync and recorded well.

Final Thoughts:

I’m now listening to my second song from Ms. Fridrich and I know that I’m going to love this album. I don’t even want to finish writing this review I just want to go buy it.

This isn’t Low. It’s not Rainer Maria. I could see Elizabeth Elmore and Ms. Fridrich on the same mixtape. I could see Fiona Apple on the same mixtape. This is unique without being needlessly experimental and forced. I heart this immensely. If you don’t like it, tell me - Amphetazine

"The Signal, July 15th&16th 2011"

[In this interview we hear] a sample of Sarah Fridrich’s new album, You Call That Brave, featuring the unlikely blend of a grand piano and a rock-and-roll drum kit. -Baltimore’s WYPR: The Signal’s Aaron Henkin interviewed Ms. Fridrich at the station. - Baltimore’s WYPR: The Signal (NPR radio station in Baltimore)

"Ms. Fridrich on the blacks and whites at Black Cat"

If you’d prefer to avoid the swelter indoors, local musician Sarah Fridrich takes to the stage at Northwest Washington’s Black Cat tonight as one half of Ms. Fridrich. She plays the keys and belts out the ballads while drummer Dan Marcellus provides a one-man rhythm section. The two are trained in the fine art of jazz, but are suckers for emotion-laden pop songs.”
-Sean Rameswaram, on July 25, 2011 airing of WAMU’s ArtBeat (background music for segment is “Rodeo” by Ms. Fridrich) (LISTEN) - WAMU: ArtBeat (D.C.'s NPR radio station)

"The Night is Young"

“A D.C. singer-songwriter who gives superlatives a workout: sultry, unhurried, stirring and alluring … lyrically descriptive, sincere, emollient and vocally enchanting”
- AIMSEL L. PONTI, Portland Press Herald - Portland Press Herald

"Ms. Fridrich - You Call That Brave"

Inspired by Amanda Palmer, Tom Waits and Fiona Apple, Sarah pulls from everything: burlesque, indie rock, and pop. Her voice and songwriting are charismatic, heartfelt, and clever, and while her songs definitely lean towards pop elements (in all the best possible moments) there is a tinge of avant with delicate nods to Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson. Dan’s monstrous drum sound and slightly jazzy feel is a force to be reckoned with. He’s the perfect yang to Sarah’s yin.
- Mat Leffler-Schulman, Mobtown Studios

"Ms. Fridrich - You Call That Brave"

Inspired by Amanda Palmer, Tom Waits and Fiona Apple, Sarah pulls from everything: burlesque, indie rock, and pop. Her voice and songwriting are charismatic, heartfelt, and clever, and while her songs definitely lean towards pop elements (in all the best possible moments) there is a tinge of avant with delicate nods to Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson. Dan’s monstrous drum sound and slightly jazzy feel is a force to be reckoned with. He’s the perfect yang to Sarah’s yin.
- Mat Leffler-Schulman, Mobtown Studios

"Ms. Fridrich - You Call That Brave"

"...earbuds just don’t do these expansive arrangements justice."

“There isn’t a bum track out of the ten, but a few especially stand out: “Hearts Intact” is a burst of infectious, Sara Bareilles-ish pop, and album closer “Borrow Love”—which features some guest guitar work from Gary Prince—shows off both Sarah Fridrich’s pipes and jazz background."

"This collection of piano pop-rock immediately brings to mind moody chanteuses like Fiona Apple and Amanda Palmer thanks to Fridrich’s expressive voice and insane proficiency on the keys (she’s a trained jazz pianist). The other half of the duo known as Ms. Fridrich, Dan Marcellus, contributes facebreaking drums; at their best, the two have a sound that fills every corner of the room."

Juli Thanki - District Noise
- District Noise


"You Call That Brave" [full album] 2011 release
"Sarah Fridrich" [EP] 2007 release
"Academy of Awesome, a Paul Frank Album" [compilation] 2011 release



Professional Bio:

Pianist, singer, composer/songwriter Sarah Fridrich is an enthusiastic fan of kindred artists such as Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor, Joni Mitchell, Ben Folds, and Fiona Apple; as well as a passionate disciple of gritty, heartfelt songwriters such as Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits, and Patty Griffin. Her own song "Anvil" was recently recognized as a finalist in the 2011 MASC, "Open" category. And, in 2009-2010, she was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from Mont. Co. Arts & Humanities Council to write & produce her first full-length album. Currently, she tours with & fronts her own indie-pop band "Ms. Fridrich" with a young modern jazz drummer Kirk Kubicek. In 2011, she performed at local clubs&festivals ranging from The Black Cat in D.C., to the Takoma Park Folk Festival in MD; and began touring the North East, getting a chance to play the legendary Living Room in NYC this past October as part of an Edgar Allen Poe themed musical tour curated by Boston's Box Five. In 2012, Ms. Fridrich will tour the North East and MidWest again, and make it as far as Austin, TX in March to play showcases such as the Cherrywood Sustainable Showcase hosted by Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie and in.gredients (the first sustainable grocery store)!!

Creative Bio & About "You Call That Brave" Debut Album:

After "recovering from music school", Sarah found herself playing her songs with different drummers (such as her father) in various lineups. She eventually stumbled upon Dan Marcellus, who on nothing more than a car-ride listen to Sarah's demos, accompanied her live for three hours. The two played so well together that Sarah "wanted to kiss him at the end of the night." After that, Sarah pretty much put down her guitar and stopped hiring bass players.

Finding a kindred spirit in a jazz-trained musician who loved rock and pop, the duo began to pursue the ever elusive balance between technical and inspired. In rehearsal, the specific challenge was to develop a full, powerful and fresh sound with just drums and piano.

The recording process for "You Call That Brave" was as consuming as the rehearsal process, and in the studio, with co-producer Mat Leffler-Schulman's encouragement to get the most authentically raw and emotional takes, the duo's sound evolved.

The result of the process, "You Call That Brave," is an unusually personal and intriguing artifact of Sarah's musical and personal life. Compelling piano rock is tough, and while the album has a healthy dose of Dresden-Dolls-cabaret, Regina-Spektor-melody, and Ben-Folds-heart-on-the-sleeve style, those piano rockers don't fully comprise the style. The ways Ms. Fridrich stretches the limits of piano rock are abundant.

In "The Bills," the piano's mimicking of a guitar adds an unusual density, while "First Engine" seems taunting with its classic piano ballad chords jutted against staggered, interlocking vocals. It's tough not to picture Sarah slamming melodically into the grand piano on tracks like "Rodeo" or "Deck of Cards," where the full weight of the piano's hammers seem to fight with her forceful vocals.

Sarah's complicated musical history comes across in tracks like "Family and Side Arms," with such a cohesive and expressive structure that the unsteady meters and unusual harmonies glide well below one's prog-pop radar. Maybe this has something to do with Sarah describing herself as a "wanna-be drummer," approaching the piano like a percussionist, often playing three different syncopated rhythms with her hands and voice, but staying locked in. And it's the subtle moments, like the half-step harmony in the climax of "Hearts Intact," that fully signify Ms. Fridrich's artful mediation between the soulful and the technical.

Currently, Sarah tours with an equally creative and talented (jazz-school bred) drummer Kirk Kubicek.