New York-based alternative artist Frankie Sunswept released his debut album, Turning, just a few days ago via Romanus Records, which will release the 12” vinyl version at the end of January.
Originally from SoCal, Frankie headed East in 2005, landing in NYC, where he started out as a folksinger, followed by playing with surf/blues outfit Crushed Out for seven years. Crushed Out racked up more than 500 performances in 34 states, sharing the stage with Joan Jett, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Band of Skulls, Shakey Graves, Social Distortion, and a host of others.
Presently living in Queens, New York, Frankie also plays in The Sunwrays, the cosmic R&B band, while at the same time pursuing his solo career. The baker’s dozen tracks on Turning emerged from his ‘song a month’ project, similar to the Twelve Labors of Hercules, only no penance was involved. Since September 2018, he’s written, recorded, and produced a new song every month.
Once Crushed Out dissolved, Frankie became a musical prospector, poking into novel concepts and trying out new sounds and combinations of sounds, including slide guitar, 12-string guitar, wah pedal, sitar, mellotron, modal melodies, and atypical tempos, along with stylistic shifts.
The album begins with “Turning Toward Me,” opening on bluesy, slide guitar colors underscored by a cavernously vibrating bassline. Strident, dreamy vocals glide overhead, giving off tints of gospel savors. Then the harmonics ramp up into gleaming alt-rock flavors laced with psychedelic textures.
Entry points include “This Bleeding Heart,” reminiscent of Pink Floyd during the intro and then shifting to a retro-laced melody conjuring up memories of Roy Orbison and the Beatles, swaying and rippling on kaleidoscopic layers of posh hues and starry-eyed vocals.
“Surfer,” faithful to its title, undulates on creamy surf-rock surfaces, while the lush vocals remind listeners of Ricky Nelson covering the Beachboys. Glowing harmonies imbue the lyrics with radiantly downy tones.
“Talk” rolls out on low-slung folk-rock energy, topped by luminous accents and laid-back vocals emanating moody, mysterious timbres. “Dream (But Don’t Sleep Too Long)” opens on distant, tinny piano tones, and then surges into a melody featuring tangs of pop and vestiges of new wave and prog-rock.
Without a doubt, “Married In My Mind” is one of the album’s must-listen-to tracks, channeling the deliciously slow twangy rhythm and country aromas of Hank Williams. Whereas the final track, “Fantasy,” conveys the shimmering relish of retro pop merged with SoCal soft rock. Written by Frankie’s father, John Hoier, Frankie’s delicious cover of the song glimmers with jangly colors.
Innovative and deftly put together, Turning parades a luscious multiplicity of varying sounds, along with the supple voice of Frankie Sunswept. Turning is definitely worth attention.