French Admirals are an indie rock outfit from Washington, DC. The group initially formed as a “gentleman troubadour” acoustic duo project between DC music scene vets Robert France (Rob Kuczynski) on vocals/guitars and the Admiral (Mike Lashinsky) on bass. The duo steadily built momentum with a consistent flurry of live shows and the increased songwriting of Robert France throughout 2013 and eventually caved in to the desire to expand into new sonic territory, recruiting Philly native the General (Mark Kuczynski) on drums and adding electric guitars to the mix. The power trio brings a melodic mixture of brit-pop, classic alternative and jangly, atmospheric indie rock with a touch ofgarage pop, post punk and alt country. The band found the studio in the Winter of 2014 and recorded their debut album with talented local engineer Peter Larkin over the course of 5 months at Lighthouse in Del Ray, VA. Produced by Kuczynski/Larkin, "Closer Than Brothers" was released at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington DC on August 2, 2014.
With "Closer than Brothers", these guys may knock you down but there's always a comforting hand to lift you back up. Never fearing sonic or textural variety, songs run the gamut of bursts of pop rock and post punk to 90′s British influenced mid-tempo rockers with anthemic choruses to the occasional acoustic ballad for good measure. France’s lyrics examine the modern human psyche with an honest, observationalist touch perhaps more suitable for the reflections of an experienced therapist. He often presents the absurdities of the modern world, human experiences and interactions in unexpected ways, most obviously represented in "Favour", a hook-laden burst of upbeat pop-rock cleverly disguising a fruitless marriage and ultimate divorce "If I've fallen out of favour here, bury me in legalese". "It's All There" offers solace for a "star" type figure struggling with fame and success earned without perceived merit with a chorus of "It's ok, to feel this way" over pillowly guitar ebow atmospherics. The musical "good vs. evil" push and pull of "Feelings at 4am" tackles the frustration of sitting in a cubicle or relationship complying with what others think they "should" do vs. the freedom of what one is actually drawn to "He's finding his north star until the system logs him in, When you're in between endings, it's hard to begin". The track comes complete with dueling guitar solos (middle and outro) representing each side. Sentimental piece "Wu-Wei" provides an acoustic based change of pace which is contrasted nicely by the explosion of scrappy guitars and earnestly of the sub-2 minute post-punk bash "We Will Create Our Own Reality". Sitting towards the end of the record is "Walls", a contemplative piece from the point of view of an aging couple reminiscing about permanence and opportunities not taken throughout life while clinging to safety and familiarity in fear of judgement "Even though you stole the show, we held on to what we knew, fixated on what they'd say". The battle between perceived and actual happiness is apparent since it's unclear whether these opportunities are being romanticized after the fact. Somber at times, the song offers glimmers of hope and acceptance bolstered by a soaring, triumphant chorus and ultimately bleeds directly into the dark, mysterious, murky psychedelia of album closer "Missed Calls", complete with rain recorded backwards opening the track. Despite apparent heaviness of the lyrical content, there is a facetious underbelly dripping with absurdist satire at times with plenty of ambiguity. As with all things relating to Robert France, everything is open to interpretation and nothing should be taken too literally. Make no mistake, this a fun, clever record through and through.
France's lyrics pair nicely with slightly off-kilter yet accessible musical arrangements and chord progressions, subtly familiar yet distant vocal and guitar melodies, brit-pop-esque harmonies and a thumping yet nuanced rhythm section. The trio’s meticulous pop sensibilities provide hooks from all angles while maintaining a consistent voice throughout the record. French Admirals have performed throughout DC, Virginia, Baltimore, Philly, NYC through North Carolina.