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Chester French

Alternative and Indie

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About Chester French

A they, not a he, consisting of young friends D.A. Wallach and Max Drummey, Chester French seeks to prove that pop music can be at once challenging and accessible. And with the bracing, involving and always-surprising set of pop-art songs on their debut album Love the Future, the duo has made a bold statement that's as delightful as it is ambitious, an album informed by a great wealth of music that is poised to break barriers and set new standards.

Chester French's world is a musical universe in which everything's in play. The glorious "She Loves Everybody" mixes sensibilities equally drawing on Motown and power-pop. "Beneath the Veil" throws country twists into hip-hop aesthetics. "Neal" has echoes of swing, hip-hop and rock - with a guitar break paying tribute to the genius and magic fingers of Les Paul. And "Fingers" is just your basic orchestral-pop with, you know, a lap steel solo. There's a curtain-raising "Introduction," and a couple transition pieces ("The String Interlude" and "Country Interlude") to help tie it all together and stress that this is, overall, far more than just a collection of songs, but a whole statement.

"We were trying to make the album an album," Drummey says. "What we tried to do is make something musically diverse but also unified. And we did the best job of that ever in the history of music."

Don't just take it from him. The band has already been lauded by the press with features such as Spin's Who's Next ‘08 and Rolling Stone's Artists To Watch. And take it from no less than Pharrell Williams, who signed the unclassifiable duo to his Star Trak/Interscope label after an early copy of the album, recorded by the two largely in a dorm basement studio while they were students at Harvard, was passed from them to his engineer, Drew Coleman.

Milwaukee-raised Wallach and Boston native Drummey quickly found a lot of shared ground in musical tastes and philosophies and before long had recruited three other musicians into a band playing various campus functions, eventually moving in a direction heavily influenced by classic British Northern Soul. Over the summer both stayed in Cambridge, working hard at songwriting. But when school resumed, they realized that the material went way beyond the basic guitar-bass-drums-piano format of the band, and the duo continued the work themselves, Wallach handling most of the vocals, Drummey performing much of the music on an orchestra's-worth of instruments, supplemented with the occasional specialist guest - and both taking production and engineering duties for recordings that melded both of their sensibilities and visions.

"Being just two people in the studio we could layer anything we wanted," Drummey says. "It liberated us to arrange the album in interesting ways."

Interesting hardly captures it. Working along the way in a campus studio arranging, engineering and producing all sorts of sessions expanded the pair's musical vocabulary and sense of recording innovation. With that wealth of resources at their command, they set out to craft something at once all-encompassing and focused.

The environment they created was fertile for creativity and spontaneity. Sometimes it was just a simple notion of combining sounds that might, or might not, work together.