Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Record label: Western Vinyl Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Packed with peace, love and jangly guitars, Diane Coffee’s debut LP, My Friend Fish, is an irresistible ode to ‘60s psychedelia. After only a few listens, it’s hard not to slip into dreams of floral-crown-wearing hippies and cozy Haight-Ashbury cafés. As the drummer for retro-rock outfit Foxygen, Diane Coffee (the solo moniker of Shaun Fleming), isn’t a stranger to nostalgic jams.
Foxygen are the most messed-up band this side of Fat White Family, and their alumni are already splintering off into various side-projects. Diane Coffee is the turn of drummer Shaun Fleming, and compared to the often-misfiring studio material of his main band, ‘My Friend Fish’ is something of a revelation. Self-recorded in a two-week burst while Fleming was holed up in the band’s shabby Manhattan apartment recovering from the flu, the album pilfers liberally from the classics but proves he’s enough of a free-willed songwriter to make things more than just dull pastiche.
After joining the warped pop band Foxygen, one-time Disney child star Shaun Fleming moved from L.A. to N.Y.C. and found himself cooped up in a small apartment with nothing to do. Perfect time for a side project, he thought, and Diane Coffee was born. If you know Foxygen at all, it will be no ….
Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming’s first solo record, as Diane Coffee, likes to genre hop in a way that may recall his band’s work. But My Friend Fish digs into spacier, more soulful territory. Fleming proves to be a deft hand at bringing soul and R&B traditions to life alongside pop and rock structures. Opener “Hymn” shifts from syrupy space into a danceable freak-out in the middle that is striking, and sets up the bone-dry thump of “Never Lonely” well.
The artist is no dusky Brazilian beauty; rather, Diane Coffee is the new solo project from Californian Shaun Fleming, last heard drumming with psych outfit Foxygen. The name may have origins in Twin Peaks, as we recall Special Agent Cooper dictating to his mythical secretary, Diane, and regularly grandstanding about the coffee served by the locals. As for the album title, My Friend Fish, your writer has drawn a blank trying work out who Fish is (there was one in a percolator, but it wasn’t notably friendly).
Up until June of this year, Shaun Fleming was probably best known as the drummer in Foxygen, providing the backbeat for Jonathan Rado and Sam France to act out their often fractious, brittle relationship in public. The band’s tension-filled shows, whether for show and publicity or otherwise, probably arrived at their natural conclusion during SXSW where France had something of an on-stage meltdown, confronted a fan and the band subsequently cancelled a series of tours. Then came a Tumblr post from France’s partner and Foxygen touring member Elizabeth Fey in which she called out Rado for allegedly forcing France to remove a solo album from the internet before releasing one of his own, and went on to accuse Rado and Fleming of forming an alliance to oust her from the band, and further suggesting Fleming should take a look at his own behaviour.