Hot Painless City: release date 08-25-2020
Frank Lenz is a musical chameleon, hiding in plain sight. A quiet, unassuming resident of Orange County, CA, his music career is so varied, it’s difficult to encapsulate in a short bio. He might be best known for his drum skills, most notable in acts like Richard Swift, Starflyer 59, Damien Jurado, The Weepies, Pedro The Lion, The Lassie Foundation, etc. But his production and recording resume is equally as impressive, including the soundtracks of 2 feature films and a strong catalog of solo full lengths, EPs, and singles.
Lenz left off at the EP Pyramid, which came out in early 2020. It’s a collection of heady synth-and-drum-drenched instrumentals. It wasn’t exactly an easy listen, but if a polar opposite existed, it would be his newest offering Hot Painless City. Here, Lenz gives us beautiful renditions of 70s classics. The production is powder-puff, soft and clean, with real string sections and his vocals upfront and earnest. The credits for Hot read simply “played, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Frank Lenz”. If you let that sink in for a moment, you may realize some unassuming people possess amazing talents. They’re often right under our noses, waiting to be discovered.
Summer’s Coming Soon
The newest offering from Frank Lenz is a mind dizzying blast of sunshine and surf. It’s influences are all right there in front of you. The track was a collaboration w/ his former band mate Richard Swift (of The Shins and currently the bass player of the Black Keys). Together they pull out beautiful, powder puff production coupled w/ layers of textures and lovable vocal lines. This track in particular has been kicking around for a while, and at a certain point in time the recording was thought to be forever lost due to some computer melt down mayhem. Recently though this saved version of the track was stumbled upon, and we couldn’t resist putting it out there for you, especially in the middle of Summer. New music from Frank will be coming next year.
Frank Lenz is making some changes. The former drummer for bands like Richard Swift, Pedro the Lion, and Starflyer 59, current drummer for The Weepies and Everest, accomplished solo artist, and film and television composer (Holy Rollers, Strictly Background, Showtime) – who once worked his way up out of homelessness by working as a professional music impersonator in Atlantic City – is stepping forward to make a statement…by saying virtually nothing. Lenz’s new, almost-entirely instrumental album Water Tiger is a mix of quirky, spaced-out, ambient rock, strange old electronics, dappled with upbeat, super catchy pop hooks. It was created with no agenda whatsoever, and with no agenda comes freedom. aaaa
Lenz explains; “I’ve spent a countless amount of time making music with the intention of pleasing others. This time I made an instrumental because ‘I’ wanted to. I wanted to create something beautiful, something with heart. I wanted the record to have symmetry and not to rely on dissonance, I wanted a textured repetitive format without making everything ‘weird’ sounding to compensate. Lyrics tell a story and direct a listener on where to go. Tones and textures provide a path for the listener to follow with freedom. We forget the power that sound alone can offer.” Mastered by TW Walsh (Cold War Kids, Sufjan Stevens, Foxygen) with an expansive 8-panel digipack designed by Etherien, 14 out of Water Tiger’s 15 tracks are pure instrumentals. Lenz played nearly every part on the record, using a variety of instruments: banjo, guitar, melodica, wurlitzer piano, hammond organ, rolland and casio synths, and a Parker Steiner ‘Synthacon’. Much of the album was based around the Synthacon an obscure mono synth from the 70’s built in Salt Lake City, Utah. (“I would basically get stoned and sip on whiskey turning knobs until I came to something inspirational, then I’d have to write down all the knob settings so I could return to that sound, I loved using it. It creates it’s own sounds or you can modify sounds through it. “)
Water Tiger does have one track with vocals, a cheeky 60’s surfer track called Debts Lance – For Bella. It’s the final song on the record and the only one without an explanation. Lenz prefers to let the song speak for itself, saying only “I’ll discuss almost any personal circumstances in my life, but I’d rather leave this one just for Bella.” It’s a fitting answer – after all, the words are already written. aaaaa
“Stunning, Jon Brion meets Sigur Rós-style instrumentals” – Under the Radar
To view all Frank Lenz releases, click here.