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"East Bay Express is Wallpaper Fanatic"


MP3 of the Day: Wallpaper
Filed under: MP3s and Song Samples, Bay Area Bands

Here's one for those who like computer-generated, syrupy, ultra-packaged songs that mock convention: Wallpaper, a new pop satire EP by a Pinole-based indie singer of the same name. Consisting of six songs that all end at exactly two minutes and thirty seconds – some are even awkwardly cut off, the singer says — Wallpaper takes the idea of radio-formatted music in a funky (or decidedly unfunky) direction.

The singer used the Autotune software favored by most pop stars who want their voices to stay on key, but turned it up as high as he possibly could – "so it's impossible for me to sing a wrong note, basically," he says. He also waxes bizarre with overly flat, megageneralized, Dick-and-Jane-style lyrics (Sample: I love a girl / She is a black girl / Or she is white). "I just took all these things that people are doing on pop records and blew them out of proportion," says Wallpaper, who dropping his next single "A Million Dollars" on February 18. "I was trying to think of the most ubiquitous American fantasy," he explains. "Like, when you get three wishes from the Genie, what do you wish for? A million dollars. Not even one million dollars. A million dollars." Click here to hear Wallpaper streaming live. Wallpaper opens for Subtle January, 20 at Bottom of the Hill - East Bay Express

"Brilliant MP3s : Wallpaper"

My friend Kim does this thing when he really likes something: he acts vaguely offended, like he can't believe it, like he's completely aghast and thinking “how dare they” at the band he’s hearing. On Monday, during Wallpaper's 40-minute set at Club Pow, Kim stood across the room from me. Every time I caught his eye he shook his head and made some sort of signal with his arms and hands that I interpreted to mean something along the lines of "I'm done." The movement kind of resembled a baseball umpire calling someone safe; Kim shakes his head and does the "safe!" motion over and over again.

At no point did I doubt how much Kim was enjoying Wallpaper. Everyone was. Wallpaper—for this tour, at least—involves two guys. The project is the intelligently sleazy electro-outlet for Eric Frederic, the singer and writer for the prog-pop band Facing New York. In Wallpaper Mr. Frederic is accompanied by a live drummer—Arjun Singh—and an iPod. The iPod drips out melt-y, Ratatat-style keyboards over fizzy beats, with Mr. Singh bolstering the electronic percussion with his kit. Mr. Frederic filters his vocals—both live and recorded—through a tolerable amount of autotune, or vocoder, or something, giving his voice that pitch-corrective, robotic "One More Time" effect. Live, he plays no instruments.

Which leaves all sorts of room for gimmicks. For Monday’s show, Mr. Frederic dressed like he was trying to dress like an indie-rock Casanova: a green lumberjack shirt, white shoes, and cheap-o neon sunglasses. Between songs he sat in a chartreuse pleather easy chair, sipping courvoisier. These words (chartreuse, pleather, easy and courvoisier) sufficiently paint the art-decco mural of Wallpaper’s intent. Progressive rock tends to succeed when intent is most obscured, which makes Mr. Frederic’s Wallpaper both his alter-ego and his super-ego.

Mr. Frederic is a card-carrying music geek and discerning ears will hear the pleasing complexities in the vocal harmonies, melodies, and phrasing. The rest of the ears will hear Hellogoodbye-ready hooks like, "I am a million dollars," and “This is your ringtone.” The effect is funny and, shitty PA be damned, catchy. Without the overbearing sonics of a full band, Mr. Frederic embraces the lack of obstacles between his voice box and the audience. It’s a pleasant infection; Mr. Frederic’s lyrics are Destiny’s Child-simple and oft-repeated. (One of Wallpaper’s two cover songs included Bell Biv DeVoe’s ‘90’s boy-band gem “Poison.” The other was an interpretive R. Kelly homage.) Watching 40 strangers laugh and dance gave the band’s name a literal feel, as if Wallpaper really was all around us.

Every Wallpaper song is two minutes and thirty three seconds long. It’s a silly, suspicious boundary, as though Mr. Frederic has case-studied Pop music to a distant, precise decimal place. In the context of so many flushed out ideas, the uniform song lengths add to the ultimate mystery: what makes pop popular?

I ask that question because I feel that Wallpaper provides some answers. Every moment of Monday night’s set felt relate-able. It wasn’t so much that I’d seen it before as much as immediately wanting to see it again. There’s an answer: Pop music presents us with the desire to become familiar, to be included. Inclusion seemed paramount to Mr. Frederic’s stage character; he constantly checked his cell phone throughout the set. In doing so he seemed at once too-cool, reasonably curious, and sort-of-desperate. Launching into the track "Text Me Your Love," Mr. Frederic responded to text messages while singing a song about receiving text messages. I texted “Big time! My love!” or something like that. I just wanted to be a part of the moment, to feel included.

And I did. - brilliantmp3s.blogspot.com


T REX EP (2007)
DOODOO FACE (9.22.08)




Partway through recording his debut LP as Wallpaper., Eric Frederic lost his shit. The Oakland artist was neck-deep in a series of isolated studio all-nighters to put him in the mood, when the song "Doodoo Face" pushed him into the beyond. Boxed in by layers of percussive funk, dark synthesizer blurt and crushing bass, Frederic lost himself inside of Ricky Reed, the character he'd long ago conceived as Wallpaper.'s frontman. He gave in to Ricky's rampant narcissism, love for party and supreme indifference, and as a result, discovered the guiding duality behind Doodoo Face, the album: There's sadness inside all that celebration. A little madness too.

When first we met Wallpaper. in 2005, the project was Frederic's way of making earnest, artful music while satirizing the lack of genuine sentiment in mainstream pop. Then, the music was composed on computers and the lyrics were delivered strictly in Auto-Tune (almost unheard of at the time), further emphasizing the sterility of hackneyed song themes. In the four years since, as Wallpaper.'s become a genuine phenomenon via three well-loved EPs and an unforgettable live show, Auto-Tune has fittingly become one of the most widespread and maligned facets of modern radio. Frederic understands the subtlety of this point; Ricky Reed, who still modifies his voice, basks in such infamy.

At a certain point in the making of Doodoo Face, Frederic regained some sanity. He stopped trying to figure Ricky out, and focused his mental efforts on production. The music of Doodoo Face is a significant step forward for Wallpaper. As established by his recent "live-band remixes" for Passion Pit and Das Racist, Frederic's become ace at merging the organic into the electronic. This time, the drums are live courtesy of band member Arjun Singh, Darondo sideman Brian Switzer plays trumpet, and Frederic's own guitar graces many tracks. These are huge beats with infinite intricacy — the perfect tribute to Frederic's oldest influences: P-Funk, Afrobeat, and the panoply of Bay Area rap. You'll hear strains of Justice too, in the seething bass of "Celebrity," and even Eno in the minimalist pop of "Fine GF." Furthermore, "Frk Scn" not only features female vocals, but a distinct live Ghanaian rhythm known as "Ewe," while on "Gettin' Drip," Frederic handcrafts his own "chipmunk soul" sample to accompany the chorus.

But one needn't know any of this to "get" Wallpaper. Just as it thrives under scrutiny, Doodoo Face bangs at face value, and the record's title is a reference to that: a contorted expression inspired by discovering something unbelievably funky. From the cavernous thump and honking sax of opener "Indecent" to the warped hyphy of "ddd" to "Doodoo Face" itself, this is dark, nasty, load-bearing booty funk of the Oakland house party variety. It's the part of Wallpaper. that Frederic and his flashier alter ego almost see eye-to-eye on. Is it satire? Sincerity? Something in between? Doodoo Face invites you to decide.