By: Betsy Glickman
They reel you in with the easy-going opening tune, “Telemundo,” characterized through a catchy, casual folk sway. But as you dive deeper into The Map & the Territory, the sophomore album of Chicago’s Furious Frank, you embark on an eccentric and memorable journey with a welcoming – albeit slightly odd – collective of musicians as your guide.
Furious Frank have been playing their own brand of gypsy-folk rock around the Midwest for several years now, infusing their music with a healthy balance of hearty guitar strums, upbeat rhythms, and horn decorations. Lead singer Mason Payne adds the final touches with his at-times guttural tone, backed up by his own carnival of musicians and revealing similarities to artists like Gogol Bordello, Manu Chao, or even Edward Sharpe.
What makes the tour through The Map & the Territory enjoyable is the diversity it offers, which was crafted through the influences of 10 musicians. From up-tempo and twangy country tunes (“Lonely Tombs”) to gypsy-spirited jazz and waltzes (“Bury Me”) to even Mariachi rhythms (“Czech Xmas in Texas”) – the album weaves stories of death, whiskey, and small towns into a variety of musical styles. There’s even a little Irish punk leaning (“Whiskey Row”).
“Furious Frank wasn’t formed with a style of play in mind, so the sharing of influences has been a by-product of learning to play these songs together, of spending time here and on the road together and by sharing music,” says Payne. “There is certainly a common pool from which we pull creatively, it’s just too murky and riddled with oddities to go listing it here.”
Despite some minor dragging points in the album (“In Good Time”), it’s well worth a listen. Whether you’re a folk-rock aficionado looking to add some quirk to your musical catalog, or you’re already into the whole “gypsy-carnival” scene, you’ll be sure to discover some treasures with Furious Frank’s The Map & the Territory.
Need a recommendation? Check out “Telemundo,” my favorite tune in the album and one of Payne’s favorites to play. “That song has one of those grooves that you want to drive to, you know? Windows down, open highway and all that?” he says.
Furious Frank – Whiskey Row