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    West Indian Girl

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1What Are You Afraid Of lyrics
    2Still Lost lyrics
    3Lay Down lyrics
    4Leave Tonight lyrics
    5Get Up lyrics
    6Sofia lyrics
    7Vision lyrics
    8Green lyrics
    9Trip lyrics
    10All My Friends lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    West Indian Girl


    The power to transcend common themes of fear, hope and love using only phrasing and imagery is a rare gift, second only to one's ability to render out the proper combination of notes and chords with which to propel those words into our hearts. As listeners, we gravitate to both the familiar and the unattainable; we are moved by what's accessible, what's evocative and what heightens our perception. West Indian Girl's self-titled debut touches all these points with equal effectiveness. Informed by the triumphant empathy of British rock and roll and the soul-seeking ethos of Sixties psychedelia and modern day jam bands, Robert James and Francis Ten build opulent compositions that revolve around texture, mood and lyrical romanticism-songs that are inspired by ideals and motivated by feeling, much like the two musicians themselves.

    Both imbued with a nomadic spirit, James and Ten drifted through various points in the East and Midwest before crossing paths in Detroit in the early Nineties. They became best friends almost instantly, their divergent personalities and physical appearances providing a strong counterbalance to one another. Tall, fair and sinewy, James embodies an air of classic transcendentalism, while Ten's demonstrative, outgoing persona fits right in with his full-blooded Sicilian heritage. Though their time in Michigan drew to a close, they stayed in close contact, shuttling mix tapes and song ideas back and forth to one another through the mail. By this time, Ten's travels had brought him out to Los Angeles, while Robert was taking care of his father near Detroit.

    "He sent me a demo," says Ten. "I was sitting in my car at the corner of Hollywood and La Brea listening to it thinking, 'This is incredible!' I called him and convinced him to move out here."

    The two defied convention from the very beginning. While most Hollywood bands were caught up in an endless loop of smalltime gigs, James and Ten worked from back to front. They built up a lush bed of guitars and synths over James' skeletal melody, titled it "Dream," and circulated the track to anyone who would give it audience. With no band to sell and no repertoire to reference, they did what any inspired, hungry musicians would do: they hustled the idea of what West Indian Girl could become.

    "Our imagination of West Indian Girl was so grand that all we could do was paint a picture in people's minds," says James. "Our vision of the live show was so conscious altering we sat around for months on end just talking about it."

    The band eventually signed with tastemaking EMI subsidiary Astralwerks, a label Ten explains is a perfect fit in terms of their credible roster and the artistic freedom they impart to their bands. Most importantly, however, they believed in the group's untapped potential. After all, West Indian Girl had yet to play a single show.

    "It gave us a standard by which we wanted to live up to in our minds," says James of the path they chose to take. "We decided that we wanted to start from more of a conceptual idea and then bring it to fruition."

    "And I think it would have been a lot different in a lot of other cities," explains Ten. "But LA is kind of an anomaly as far as being in a band is concerned. You can align your own stars here."

    While their music isn't derivative of a hard rocking Los Angeles sound, it carries a sun drenched optimism that is inherently West Coast, as heavily reverbed guitar licks and modest electronic music expressions shimmer atop acoustic rhythms and steady drums. Gentle and accessible, the songs speak to a wide range of human emotion, but never fall victim to the complex obscurities favored by emo shoegazers. Each track is pure, visionary pop thrown slightly off kilter by James' psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics.

    "Basically, Rob speaks in tongues," informs Ten, smiling.

    "I can't sit down and write lyrics with a pen and pad," confesses James. "I just have to turn off my mind, if there is such a thing to do, and put myself in a trance. At that point, some entity is trying to speak through me and tell a story. That's exactly what happens. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm saying."

    This combination of metaphorical, expressive songwriting is prominently showcased on the song, "What Are You Afraid Of?" "There's no chance of losing when there's no chance at all," beckons James as he lashes out stinging chords over a soaring female chorus. Packed to the brim with longing and fortitude, the song's epic power and dream-like ambiance make it one of the album's cornerstones. On the hazy, effusive "Miles From Monterey," James channels the spirit of Roger Waters with a pleading vocal refrain and a well-paced guitar solo. Everything is as it should be. Nothing is what it seems. But then again, what would you expect from a group who took their name from a particularly potent strain of LSD developed in the early Sixties?
    Since signing to Astralwerks, James and Ten have galvanized West Indian Girl with a solid group of players, and the jam band variety they bring to their live shows has made them a crowd favorite while opening for groups like Gomez and label-mates Phoenix. Mark Lewis sits in on drums, keyboardist Chris Carter provides the sonic textures, and Mariqueen Maandig expands upon the subtle female support vocals that appear throughout the album. What started as an idea has become a full-fledged band; a band that's just as liable to get introspective and esoteric as they are to run up the bar tab with family, friends and fans.

    "It feels like the possibilities are endless," says Ten. "We have complete access to our imagination. There's no limit to where we can go."

    Please contact Alison Tarnofsky for more info: 212.886.7573 or or alison@astralwerks.com

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