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Dead Icons
Spin
666 Fifth Avenue
Hexagonal Mess
Tomorrow
Three-Dimensional Sound Glitch
Ongoing Crash
Home or Exile
One Thousand Miles High
Waves
Release date: June 4, 2021
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Gannon, SIC Magazine
2021-06-24
The latest in a hot run of Firefriend LPs, Dead Icons is the Brazilians’ sixth LP since 2016 and, if anything, the cool-as-you-like three-piece may just be getting better. Cherry-picking the best motifs from both contemporary and 60s psych, so too from the fertile hunting grounds of arty noise-rock and spacey shoegaze, the consistently great Avalanche back in 2019 wasn’t quite as quick to reach for the heavy riff as some of its predecessors (see the standout Yellow Spider album), relying instead more often on the band’s trademark slow-burn, but it nevertheless rumbled elementally when needed, massive guitar distortion throwing up expressive walls blurred by Yury Hermuche’s pealing guitar and impassioned snarl. Ever Hermuche’s soothing counterfoil, bassist Julia Grassetti’s uneasy coo lead Nico-inspired jams full of tremolo-fired disorientation, Caca Amaral’s hypnotic drums simmering alongside stoned strumming, woozy drones, and out-there backmasking.

Seeing Avalanche as a template to better rather than to build on, Dead Icons oozes filthy rock ‘n’ roll, nimble bass always able to pick out a magnetic rhythm, percussion always in the right place at the right time to add backbone and drive, the window dressing never less than spot on. It doesn’t mess about either, guitars quick to get a groove going, reverb only too happy to thrown up a dreamy haze on the title track, lost vocals crying out for help. Ticking over with motorik precision, early highlight “Spin” deploys highline synth repeats in turn to conjure thoughts of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club zoning in on Primary Colours after a large cup of mushroom tea.

Even the disinterested fuzz of lids-half-mast, No Wave plodder “666 Fifth Avenue” hit the mark, the crunchy ‘gaze and industrial corruption of the track that follows impossibly sexy. Firefriend would sound colossal given the right rig and the slo-mo post-rock of “Tomorrow” and its caustic scree prove it. Over on the flip, textural freak-outs and atonal art-punk keep the pressure on, alt-rock doom warping in the sun with the inclusion of insistent piano. The finish line in sight, Firefriend are then at full swagger during the final furlong, slashing wildly with feedback and strangled guitar parts over relatively pretty melodies.

The band have long had a combustible way of making their point heard, and Dead Icons pours petrol on the embers of their back-catalogue while conflating many of the best guitar records in history with reverential glee. Sit back and watch them burn.

Best track: 'Spin'
Jeff Penczak, It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine
2021-06-20
Dead Icons continues their psychedelic assault on the senses like a midnight raid on a pantry full of fuzz boxes, swarming electronics and room-swirling vibrations. ‘Spin’ is a motoric stalker bolstered by Caca Amaral’s hypnotic drumming and bassist Julia Grassetti’s eerily soothing vocals, and ‘Hexagonal Mess’ is a menacing onslaught of industrial carnage that’ll leave Nine Inch Nails fans frothing at the mouth.

Album centerpiece ‘Tomorrow’ changes direction for a slow, molasses trawl through a dirge like landscape with Grassetti’s dreamy drawl navigating the razor-sharp soloing from guitarist Yury Hermuche recalling Jesus and Chain’s William Reid’s feedback-drenched workouts. ‘Three Dimensional Sound Glitch’ is a shit-storm of nerve-rattling, brain-frying sonic destruction that marries Velvet Underground at their anarchic noisiest with Spacemen 3’s penchant for window-rattling histrionics. ‘Ongoing Crash’ is another horror show of distortion with guitars set to stun and Grassetti’s over-modulated, in-your-face vocals hailing down a barrage of taunting lyrics like Nina Hagen, Patti Smith, and Diamonda Galas trying to out-screech each other.

‘One Thousand Miles High’ follows the trail of bong smoke into the outer galaxies, dragging your mind along for the trip and ‘Home Or Exile’ delivers a metallic TKO punch to the breadbasket that will have you gasping (and begging) for more, which is delivered with the doom and gloomy Sabbathian stoner closer ‘Waves’.
Adam, Isolation Records
2021-06-01
In the five years since they started recording their own music, Sao Paulo's Firefriend have been impressively prolific with Dead Icons their sixth collection to be released in that time. Universally well received, the band have built up a well deserved reputation for producing music that is increasingly exploratory and seductive. There is certainly a lot of love for them in the UK and this release is going to do nothing but bolster that enthusiasm as these ten songs over forty-five minutes are some of their darkest, strongest and most memorable to date. The great thing about a Firefriend album is that their music flows beautifully; it glides past you so smoothly you don't even realise it is simultaneously hitting all sorts of triggers in your brain that will draw out an emotional response. That's a fantastic weapon to have in your armoury as you can press your point without seeming to try, and by the end of the record you are preaching to the already-converted. And when you are part of the underground resistance battling against the darkness that inflicts society, Firefriend are a very potent ally to have. Never has subversion sounded so sweet.

The songs on Dead Icons are built around the gently repeating rhythms of drummer Caca Amaral on which are draped delicate patterns of guitars that chatter and chide, often injected with a fuzziness that softens without losing too much harmonic edge. Vocals from guitarist Yury Hermuche are earnest and queryring, while those of bassist Julia Grassetti are softer, sometimes barely more than whispers, accompanied by waves of vibrating sound that wash over everything to create some authentic shoegaze soundscapes. There are moments here that simply leave you breathless. At the close of side one, the immaculate 'Tomorrow' harks back to the beautiful sounds of early 4AD and shows a fine use of stereo, gorgeous guitars leaking out on all sides. It really is a stunner and it's the highlight here, though there are plenty of other fine moments. 'Hexagonal Mess' is redolent of The Fauns, 'One Thousand Miles High' chimes over a searching vocal, while the title track is gracefully insistent. There's a deceiving Pixies bass intro to 'Spin' which fails to explode, but drifts into a gentle, polychromatic beauty of a song. When Firefriend are at their darkest, they become a model of constrained power. 'Three Dimensional Sound Glitch' is a noisy, burrowing psych worm, while 'Ongoing Crash' drips rage from a hollow core. There's not a song here that doesn't fit and not a moment when you are not carried along with the flow. Dead Icons is quite simply a bloody remarkable record.

First released digitally in November 2020, Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud have now sensibly released this album on vinyl, though only 500 copies have been pressed so you will need to get in quickly. If the world was a better place they would have pressed a few million and given them to every schoolkid in the world to teach them how things should be. As it is, there are 125 in yellow and purple splatter vinyl, 175 in half-and-half red and black, and 200 in black. Good luck in finding one.

J.Wasko, The Ominous Drone
2021-06-18
Firefriend have been putting out killer tunes since 2006 but it wasn’t really until 2019 when they hit the stage twice at Fuzz Club’s Eindhoven festival that things really started to take off and their back catalog quickly disappeared. The trio from San Paulo, Brazil features Yury Hermuche on guitar and vocals, Julia Grassetti on bass and vocals and C.Amaral on Drums. Dead Icons continues the trend of stellar releases featuring the somewhat lo-fi production that they have never abandoned. There is a sort of desperation in their sound perhaps coming from conditions in they have described in their home country. Borrowing from such influences as Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground and various shoegaze acts the music never sets itself in one place for too long yet never really breaks too far away from their sound as they methodically work their way through this record. I think Firefriend is at their best though when they really slow things down and extend the tracks. “Tomorrow” is a perfect example. Just places me in the crowd at three AM as the beer and smoke is wearing off and that gorgeous sound is echoing through the room. But then you kick right into “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” with it’s spacemen “Revolution” vibe or maybe “Things Will Never Be the Same”. Another classic Firefriend LP. They don’t mess around with mediocre. You can be sure this one will be near the top of many end of year lists.

Maxwell Seeman, THE SLEEPING SHAMAN
2021-06-01
Outstanding releases that make a lasting impression happen only every once in a while. When they do occur, we often find ourselves becoming enraptured, the music gets put on constant rotation, the band becomes a part of our lives. We buy the vinyl, the merch, the whole shibang of fandom. For the world of psychedelic rock, this rare event of a superb, absorbing new release has occurred and the time is now for it to make its way into our lives.

The album will no doubt be sticking to the subconscious of fans of this genre for a while. Titled Dead Icons, it was written by a band that create fascinating psychedelia with a vastness of perfectly placed parts in wickedly cool songs. That band is Firefriend and are sure to please fans of trippy, genre-bending, reverb-drenched, fuzzed out, aurally tantalizing musical splendor.

Based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Firefriend are composed of Yury Hermuche on guitar, Julia Grassetti on bass and C. Ameral drumming. I had the chance to chat online with Yury and an opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of a genius, both musically as well as ideologically. In addition to being immensely skilled at crafting strikingly artful songs and a virtuoso at guitar, he’s also fiercely aware culturally of the political and social happenings that are occurring in the volatile part of Brazil the band are from.

He’s against the ‘old world’, the corrupt and extremely destructive powers that exist, he wants change, and is sick of having to deal with, in his words ‘their violence – wars, hunger, autocracies, corruption, environmental pollution, police states, economic crisis. We are on the side of the art that always pushes societies to open new spaces where every human being can breathe and thrive’. Firefriend encourages a sense of hope for real progress in the world and this is much needed in our day and age.

The opening track, as well as the album title, Dead Icons is a dreamy, cerebral adventure in soundscapes of guitar, bass and drums swirling and twirling together making for a very ethereal effect with the vocals singing mellowly. Firefriend surely should be mentioned in conversation and compared alongside bands like Dungen and Tame Impala, all three being involved in the groovy new era of psychedelic music. The band also portrays a technical ability comparable to classic Pink Floyd goodness.

Gently moving along, Spin is their next track. It’s a well done, artsy, intriguing, bass driven piece that creates an uplifting mood, venturing out there with a bewildering though pleasant wild effect, all while keeping steady pace in the genre they’re playing (and kind of defining), but then proceeding to territory with a post-rock feel that staunch fans of Sonic Youth could definitely enjoy.

Up next is a personal favorite, the slickly and wittingly named 666 Fifth Avenue, it’s emotionally moving, honing in on the attention-grabbing, pulling listeners in. The message is chilling about the horrible atrocities experienced dealing with the US, and fittingly stating ‘The night is coming to America’. It’s fantastically well done as a siren effect is given musically, like the band are subtly sounding an alarm. Firefriend are definitely skilled at being creative by being able to portray an idea through sound and was captivating for sure.

During the fourth song, Hexagonal Mess, gentle whispers occasionally utter soft cries that creatively paint a very dark yet pleasing mural of what it sounds like, in song, to endure lasting suffering. Next is Tomorrow, an eerie sounding, perplexing mind-twirler of a track, all while keeping that psychedelic feel. Lyrically it’s describing the glory of the feeling of gratification that comes when seeing dangerous opposition fade with persistent resistance. These guys definitely have an interesting dynamic in being a psychedelic band pushing the political. Listeners have been needing this and it’s perfectly timed, considering the social destruction happening in the world.

Shifting patters of mood to a brighter phase, the next song Three Dimensional Sound Glitch is an experimentation in sound textures, softly gliding in smooth fashion, pleasing to anyone wanting to be totally entranced by highly enticing waves of interesting harmonic tones. All done with instruments, a tiny bit of sampling and know how to make a guitar sound like a horn. A rare feat.

The album now drifts into some groove-laden bass guitar. On Home Or Exile, we definitely get a fulfilling amount of melding rich harmonies with strikingly haunting vocals whilst hearing hip rock’n’roll. Imagine the most out-there that Black Rebel Motorcycle Club get on their most far-out moments and you kind of have the same realms touched upon here. It’s a very gratifying scenario.

This track is definitely a rad number. Imagine how cool it would have been if the first Strokes album had been heavily, I mean seriously influenced by the wildest psychedelic music ever created. That’s close to what is heard here. The lyrics are very trippy, fitting the music well, giving a cool juxtaposition and a sound that doesn’t typically happen with super groovy lyrics. ‘I want to get higher… one thousand miles high… with you’. It’s a piece about getting extremely lit with cherished company. I’d call it exactly the perfect piece to smoke a bowl of indica to with a close friend or an ideal song to highlight a party.

Waves is the finale. A suitable end-piece for this thrilling ride. A slow work, with plentiful lush melodies that are just sumptuous to the ears. The song moves memorably like the slow goodbye that happens after a joyous adventure with new company as you make meaningful friendships along the way.

Dead Icons is an achievement of great proportions. We’re talking unstoppable originality. If you’re searching for new music that will make a serious impression on you, has an ultra hip vibe with musical hooks impossible to ignore and impactful lyrical content, then Firefriend‘s Dead Icons is not one to pass on. Give it a listen, it’s sure to impress.
San Francisco,The Psych Rock
2020-12-02
Firefriend - Fantasma is a dark psychedelic rock album with shoegaze, post-rock tenancies. This latest album have the eerie dark bass steady almost beat machine like live drums and extended reverberating and echoing guitars with dense fuzz tones. The vocals sound great coming in with ominous notes and reverb to draw the psych factor. The songs are shimmering reflections of sound refracted in the icy canyons of dark imagination. The cold reverb tones can be very chill and mellow or blast with killer fuzz tones and laid back drumming.

Firefriend - Fantasma has great songs that all stay in the 3 to 5 minute range. They are a guitar forward band and allow the sustained notes to fill the mix. the vocals are soft and punctual with an emotional apathetic appeal that is spiked with attitude. The lyrics are melancholic with lines line 'Trying to find another way to live in this world' and 'In the mornings I feel so hollow' and 'There is more to life than just death.'

The tone of the album fits this honest downer outlook with reaching echoes that make distance and create a sense of isolation in a vast space. The vocals become fragile and serious with a mellow presentation. The sound pours out slowly as though its traveling through a viscus environment and being slowed down. The lag of timing is enhanced by the time effects and slap back which distort against the tight rhythm of the drum and bass. The bass gets into the reverb action as well in some areas of the album like in '666 Fifth Avenue' where it also has chorus of a 80's tone.

'Ongoing Crash' is a psych rock songs that brings to mind the vocal phrasing of Alex Maas of the Black Angels. The guitars are fuzzed out with tremolo and loads of reverb. Its driven sound is perhaps the most vintage or popular music orientation on the album. Overall, the Psych genre is not concerned with single or radio play but Firefriend has a few songs that could make awesome singles.

The sound quality on this album is very good the mix has warm tones and clear isolation of the various instruments. Each musicians performance it strong and the overall effect is highly inspired.

This album will appeal to fans of Brain Jonestown Massacre, Magic Shoppe, Alien Mustangs, My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3 and other spacey psych rock with shoegaze elements. They grab tones from the 80s, 90s, and today to craft their songs. Tone is very important in this style of music and Firefriend uses wonderful fuzz tones and effects that make their music stand out above their contemporaries.

Firefriend - Fantasma is the 11th full-length from the Sao Paulo, Brazil musicians. Their debut self Titled album was released in 2006 and many of their album were self released in limited editions. The last few years they have been partnering with Cardinal Fuzz Records and Little Cloud Records with great success. They are hyped by the psych rock community year after year and put out amazing vinyl that gets a repress or two.

Excited to see what the vinyl release will look like for this album and I assume it will be out on Little Cloud records or Cardinal Fuzz but time will tell. for now its direct Downloads from the bands bandcamp site. be sure to head over there and support this awesome band.


THE PSYCH ROCK
San Francisco
Dec 2, 2020
Ian Smith, UK
2020-12-01
Everything has gelled. Sao Paulo’s primary purveyors of psych perfection have dropped a new album upon us without warning and it’s the trio’s best yet. All the signs were there at the Eindhoven Psychfest of 2019, there was a knowingness about the live performance. A band in control of its own destiny. Their time in lockdown has been used more than wisely.

‘Three-dimensional Sound Glitch’ starts this opus, full of disjointed rhythms and guitar runs, languishing beautifully, going nowhere. ‘Hexagonal Mess’ starts with a swarm of tremolo before Julia’s asinine vocal takes over, yearning for something long lost. The song disintegrates into a tangle of ragged guitar. ‘Spin’ is straighter and more upbeat with shades of Sonic Youth rattling around it’s core.

‘Dead Icons’ introduces more of the fuzz and is an instant stand-out for this listener, Yury’s finest vocal performance to date supported by interweaving guitar lines and drone-licks. This track moves seamlessly through its phases and is gonna be a belter live (roll on 2030….). Even finer is ‘Tomorrow’, a plodding, sombre lament of Sigur Ros-esque proportions. It’s glorious.

Which brings me neatly to ‘666 Fifth Avenue’, which starts off rather pop-tastically (insert your favourite mid-‘80’s English act here). There is an urgency which encapsulates the whole record. ‘Ongoing Crash’ is built around a killer bass-hook, embracing Julia’s love of all things Sabbath. A pounding, crashing rush of attitude. ‘Waves’ again hints at the band’s new-found pop sensibility, oddly recalling The Beatles.

The penultimate track, ‘Home Or Exile’ is positively brimful of attitude; their music has never sounded so together. A Stones-esque romp of epic proportions. Closer ‘One Thousand Miles High’ utilises discordant, almost playful guitar, Yury sounding joyous and upbeat to end quite the journey.

It’s rare for a band to make something so fresh this far in. You will have to be content with purchasing the download today whilst we wait for the vinyl to drop around April 2021 via Little Cloud Records (US) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK).






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Release date: June 04, 2021.








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