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MP3 FRED and ETHEL - Can You See The Future?

The harmony of a congenial twosome like Sonny and Cher, the darkness and peculiarity of the Airplane and a bit of Monkees folly....

12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Americana, FOLK: Power-folk

Tom Janezic and Jude Kinnear are FRED and ETHEL the energetic acoustic duo. Known for live performances that are fortified with a well-balanced mix of original and classic folk, rock and blues, FRED and ETHEL keep everybody''s toes tappin'' with driving rhythm on acoustic guitar, fiery tambourine and playful mandolin. Their music is energetic and emotional. Their lyrics are insightful and clever, but FRED and ETHEL refuse to take themselves too seriously and keep their insights from being preachy. The unpretentious twosome reveal their passions of life, love and nature with flawless harmony, quirky hot licks and a stage performance unrivaled for its contagious energy.

Their latest release, Can You See The Future?, captures that energy using a full backing band to fuel FRED and ETHEL''s quirky musical style. Each of the twelve songs on the album reaches into a different corner of the musical spectrum, from the Beatles influenced - The Way It Is - to the psychedelic folk title track - Can You See the Future? -to the rockabilly concert fave -In Cement- and to the foot-stompin hillbilly hoedown - Damn The Poachers - all without sacrificing any of the raw energy, which typifies FRED and ETHEL''s live performances.

What people say about FRED and ETHEL:

"Honest music." 
- Bill C. at Cafe Carpe

"Best kept secret in Milwaukee."
- Shepherd Express Band Guide

"You two are joined at the brain." 
- Dan A. at It''s A Beautiful Day Cafe

"Man, you guys rock! Would you sign my hat?"
 - A Fan at Shank Hall   

The following review is from the Milwaukee Shepherd Express May 2004: Although titled Can You See the Future?, the album concentrates more on a past generation, where similar mystic phrases were pondered in bare feet and passed around a smoky huddle on a California beachfront. The title track does, however, hold more resonance as a concerned question, drawing upon aged lessons in peace and political activism and pleading, for us to "wake up and realize where we''re heading."

Musical style has a definite link to the 1960s fusion of folk and psychedelia, incorporating the sounds of all the notorious pop vocal groups of the time. Take the harmony of a congenial twosome like Sonny and Cher, the sun-shiny instrumentation of the Mamas and the Papas or the Lovin'' Spoonful, the darkness and peculiarity of the Airplane, a bit of Monkees folly, and you''re close to knowing Fred and, Ethel. What distinguishes the group from comparison is their own infusion of rockabilly twang and hard-rocking rhythm with the homey heritage of Americana. Transcendent tracks are "Rifles" with its infectious chorus and sing-along accessibility (a constant for most of the group''s songs) and the live-show-favorite "In Cement." -Graham Fons

ANOTHER REVIEW: The Way It Should Be
by Mark Doddington, Sturtevant, WI

"You know you got to have your own mind." So goes "The Way It Is," the opening track of FRED and ETHEL''s latest album on Spiritone Records, Can You See The Future? In a time when the easiest routes to musical fame are sudsy teenybopper love or threatening each other with a string of epithets most sailors would bleep out, FRED and ETHEL have chosen to take their own path. A path of conviction, self-awareness, and keen observation, one which clearly shows they do have their own minds, but are not afraid to take a few pointers from their classmates.

From the opening warning a là Bette Davis, FRED and ETHEL -revealed here for the first time to be Tom Janezic and Jude Kinnear-promise a veritable roller-coaster of music and wisdom. And they deliver. Drawing on a rich and varied range of influences, Janezic and Kinnear show their open-mindedness and appreciation of the many facets of contemporary rock and roll, a quality that is evident to anyone who has seen this dynamic duo perform live. Each of the twelve songs on this, their second CD release, reaches into a different corner of the musical spectrum, from the Beatles-influenced "The Way It Is" to the grungy "Graffiti" to the rockabilly concert fave "In Cement."

The lead vocal and song-smithing duties are divided equitably between Tom''s eagle-eyed social commentaries and Jude''s deep, often poignant, introspection. With a sound reminiscent of R.E.M.''s Michael Stipe, Janezic delivers heartfelt, yet never preachy, pleas for change on selections such as "Damn The Poachers" and "Rifles": "Look at him he''s got two eyes / He''s got ten fingers and ten toes / And I bet he goes home at night / And kisses his family / And his friends they are just like mine / And he loves his own hometown / And he dreams of better days / And he does not want to die.... / He says lay your rifle down." For her part, Kinnear waxes philosophical on the Edie Brickell-flavored "Railroad Car," while on the torchy "I Am The Fire", she reaches down deep inside to find a moody wistfulness recollecting a Rumours-era Stevie Nicks at her finest.

While radio stations are free to pick and choose which tracks to air at this time, the obvious first single from the album is the title track, "Can You See The Future?" Other stand-out tracks which radio would be wise to note include the Dylanesque "Souls on the Street," with its instantly catchy guitar hook and sympathetic take on homelessness; and the downright jaunty "The Way It Is": "Let ''em take you by the hand-never mind your own mind / You know they''ll give you all the answers when they''re so hard to find / Stick with the pack-give it your all / Run with the sheep when you hear the shepherd call you / You know you got to have your own mind." For those with an ear for musical history, Tom''s "My Song For You" seems almost to draw on the tradition of medieval English minstrel ballads, flavored with some particularly riveting drum work from Randy Mueller.

In a bold move which would have most producers (not to mention record execs) quaking in their boots, producer Kenn Fox and engineer Randy Green-both of whom make musical contributions throughout the 50-minute disc-have taken FRED and ETHEL around a hairpin turn on the anti-hunting anthem "Damn The Poachers." Spiced up with Tom''s Jews harp and Jude''s washboard, this hillbilly hoedown features some of the sweetest harmonies to be found on the album, a trademark for which FRED and ETHEL have become famous in their live gigs. In fact, it''s so far out in left field, it fits in perfectly! Michael Stipe would be proud.

Working with a full band for the first time on Can You See The Future?, FRED and ETHEL have managed to come up with a rich, multifarious, well-paced album, a very worthy successor to their self-titled, self-produced Y2K all-acoustic release. The addition of a full backing band has taken these two rising stars to a whole new plateau in their collective career, without sacrificing any of the raw energy which epitomizes their live performances.

So, to answer the question posed by the title song: Yes, I can see the future...for FRED and ETHEL, at least. And it''s paved in gold.

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