SPECIAL FRIEND – Songs For Ewe

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guests are a French-American duo called Special Friend who are on the French garage/psych/indie label Howlin’ Banana who we at VS count as bosom buddies t00 (with label boss FuzzTonic Tom having conjured up a couple of stellar mixes for is in the past). Given that I’m currently binging on “Call My Agent!” aka “Dix Pour Cent” we are very much on a French tip chez Hutchings. And the video for “Pastel” with its amusingly sheet-ghosted protagonist (beats having to wear a mask) is reminiscent of No Face from “Spirited Away” (another recent lockdown indulgence).

Special Friend are Erica Ashleson on drums and vocals and Guillaume Siracusa on guitar and vocals and their hip eponymous self-recorded EP released in September 2019 was a labour of love between four French kindred spirited labels –  Buddy Records, Gravity Music, Hidden Bay, and aforementioned Howlin’ Banana. Enamoured of the likes of Yo La Tengo, Duster, and Electrelane it also has the wispy 4AD 90s Throwing Muses-esque quality.

With Howlin’ Banana such reliable arbiters of effortless cool and Special Friend’s music such winningly dreamy pop, inviting these new heroes to select a song each was a no-brainer, so it’s a bienvenue to Velvet Sheep Erica et Guillaume!

Last summer the band invited Vincent Hivert (En Attendant Ana) to help them record their debut album “Ennemi Commun” on his Tascam 8-track machine to help encapsulate their lo-fi timeless charm, and the sound has evolved to include layering of guitars and retro toy keyboards and allowing space for more of their candy sweet harmonising, which I cannot wait to feed my ears.

With the title “Ennemi Commun” literally being the opposite of the band name, there’s definitely more going on than at first glance with Special Friend, something which is well worth exploring. To give us further insight into what makes our winsome twosome tick, without further ado, here’s Guillaume and Erica’s “songs for ewe”…

Guillaume’s choice:

“Mope Grooves – “Sleep all Day”

Besides their more experimental and weirdo post-punk material (which I also love), Mope Grooves sometimes put out just beautiful pop songs. This one manages to always make me happy despite the fact that the lyrics seem so hopeless. It is part of their 2017 album “joy” made while trying to recover from a nervous breakdown.”

Erica’s choice:

“The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane, Foxtrot Sierra – “Local Riders on your Tail”

It’s hard to pick just one song because the whole album is a continuum, so I’ll pick the first one. This is just one of those albums that you can put on at a DJ set or party & everyone will ask who it is. It’s fun & just an all-around feel-good album to vibe to. When I don’t know what to listen to, I put this record on. Pretty obscure in a way that it’s hard to find any info on the band, the back of the record hints they’re from Chile?

The front cover sticker sums it all up: “The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane – Surfin’ Krautlifornia – Foxtrot Sierra’s debut, mixing the good old psychedelic blues with sides of tropicalia, surf, and krautrock electronic… hypnotic and solid compositions full of ambient and exotica vibe.”

MERCI BEAUCOUP TO SPECIAL FRIEND AND TO TOM AT HOWLIN’ BANANA RECORDS. 

“Ennemi Commun” will be available on vinyl and digital via Howlin’ Banana Records and Hidden Bay Records, on March 26th, 2021. Check out the link to the label below to keep up to date.

https://www.howlinbananarecords.com/

And if you like what you’ve heard check out some more French fancies from Howlin’ Banana’s exclusive mixes for Velvet Sheep below…

EXCLUSIVE MIX – V.S. VERSUS HOWLIN’ BANANA MIXXX 2

EXCLUSIVE MIX – V.S. VERSUS Howlin Banana

Author: Nick Hutchings

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