(Photo by Suzi Corker)
UK psych/glam rock trio Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something released their debut album Oh Really, What’s That Then? on October 18th via Trapped Animal Records & Cargo Records. The album was recorded over a year at “South London’s Marketstall Recording studio (owned and run by band bass player Mark Estall), the album is the sound of a band growing out of one person’s imagination into something more. Initially, every part was written and performed by Jemma, but over time the sessions became collaborative.”
The album is made up of eleven tracks that reflect a personal journey and as is often the case with heavy themed tracks, the instrumentation is on the poppier side of the spectrum. This makes for a complex and thoughtful listening experience.
We caught up with the band and asked them to pick three albums that have influenced them and their music. These are their picks.
Album is available here: https://jemmafreemanandthecosmicsomething.bandcamp.com/
Grace Jones – Night Clubbing
This album holds such a strange resonance for me. As a child growing up in suburbia in the 80s my parents had middle class aspirations, they went through a phase of holding dinner parties that involved ever more complex dishes, the closest my brother and I ever got to tasting anything was licking the bowl or spoon used to create them. They were usually held on a Saturday and the stress and tension started early in the day. It would start with a trip to Waitrose (?!) to purchase exotic items like mangos and prawns and ended in a visit to the Cd selection of the library. My dad would select a bunch of CDs, the majority of which wouldn’t play when we got them home because they were too scratched, and he would make a cassette mix tape. The various mixtapes would be played in a very specific order, we were sent upstairs as the guests arrived and I would try and listen in to my parent’s conversations. By the time Grace Jones came on the party would be in full swing and it would be a relief to hear my mum finally relaxed as she successfully delivered the dishes she had been so anxious about during the day. Grace Jones reminds me of being allowed to suck the mango pip and catch snatches of a drunken adult world. The fact that it’s the only record I remember of the mix tapes is probably largely to do with Sly and Robbies incredible production which managed to make its way up the stairs to the landing with perfect clarity.
Hole – Live Through This
I was too young to really know about Nirvana or Courtney Love at the height of their notoriety and so the importance of their music was lost on me until I met my first girlfriend aged 15. She was older, gothic, statuesque and the most impressive person I’d ever seen, I’d never been more desperate to meet and talk to someone, I was a lonely misfit that was forever trying to convince my classmates that T-rex and Bowie were cool when we lived in a world of 90’s R’n’B, boybands and Blur. Knowing that she was a metaller I made the bold move of painting the most obnoxiously large SLIPKNOT logo on my school bag with the hope it would get her attention, it worked and through a small neatly folded note I was politely asked if I wanted to come and watch Fear Factory with her and her grungey mates. We spent a summer lying in her room listening to her music I had never heard before. It resonated perfectly with the fury and dissatisfaction I felt with the world. Live through this was the album we made out to, cried to and felt empowered by. Courtney Love was raw, unsavoury and louche, and I was hypnotised by her. She was powerful and unafraid, played guitar and didn’t give a shit. I recently revisited this album and became obsessed with the production, the guitars sound incredible, I still love it. Violet was my soundtrack for a difficult time I had recently and I’m fairly certain that some of that energy made it’s way through to the later songs we recorded with JFATCS on Oh Really What’s That Then?
Haley Bonar – The Impossible Dream
I came across Haley by chance on the radio and it seemed that the timing couldn’t be more perfect, I had just come out of a relationship that had lasted almost a decade. I had spent the final years frayed and confused, secretly queer almost erased. I heard ‘Stupid Face’ on the radio and it’s energy seemed to provide the perfect synergy with my mood, I was exhausted, relieved unsure how to be. The dreamy production and punky urgency seemed to fit with the medicated lost experience I was having as a 32 year old suddenly trying to work out who they were and what on earth I was supposed to do now. I couldn’t even understand the lyrics initially I just remember being filled with a kind of hope that there was an energy and a life force in the world that I could identify with. A strong female voice that sang out boldly, it gave me confidence and inspired me to be brave with my own music, to seek the softer more emotional side of myself, not just the anger. Watching her live was life changing, her singing voice was magical, transcendent, I felt inspired I wanted to improve my own voice, I could see the value in being able to reach all those different tones and nuances. Life isn’t black and white, it’s in the shadows in the intangible areas where everything happens. Weirdly I spotted my ex just as I was leaving the show which seemed to add an extra level of poignancy to the experience. This album signifies the start of opening my heart, defrosting, trying to deconstruct the façade I had lived behind and plugging back into the universe. The closing lines of ‘Blue Diamonds Fall’ is “you can be whatever you like” and it was precisely the mantra I needed after years of doing the exact opposite.