Liverpool band the Fernweh combine the baroque psychedelic sounds of '60s bands like the Moody Blues and the Left Banke with an autumnally tinged British folk bent and a modern sonic punch. Their sound is handmade and precision-crafted by three musicians who paid their dues as sidemen for years and used every sonic and melodic trick they learned along the way on their impressive self-titled first album, released in 2018. The project started as an idea years before it became a reality. Guitarist Jamie Backhouse and keyboardist Austin Murphy, who had spent time playing in Edgar Jones' backing band, got a gig backing singer Candie Payne at Glastonbury in 2007, where they were joined by bassist Ned Crowther, who had just left his band the 747s. The trio ended up sitting atop a hill discussing their shared love of classic American bands of the '60s, oddball psychedelia, and British folk like Fairport Convention (whose album Liege and Lief became something of a guiding light for the trio.) Somewhere along the way, one of them suggested they should start a band. The trio went their separate ways before finalizing any plans, with Backhouse and Murphy signing up to play in Alessi's Ark and Crowther playing with the Zutons, among others. Eventually, Backhouse and Murphy decided that life as sidemen wasn't fulfilling and they needed to start their long-discussed band before time passed them by. They began recording together in Murphy's loft, with him and Backhouse piecing together sounds and ideas into the beginnings of songs. When they got to the point of needing lyrics and vocals, they remembered the conversation with Crowther and rang him up. He had never sung lead in a band before but was keen to join up despite living 300 miles away. The working relationship solidified, with the duo of Backhouse and Murphy putting together songs during the week as time allowed, and Crowther visiting on weekends when he could to add his vocals and anything else. The sound they came up with was classic psychedelic pop with autumnal moods, cinematic flourishes, and a huge swath of folky weirdness mixed in. As the trio worked, they were joined by vocalists Rozi Plain of This Is the Kit and Alessi Laurent-Marke from Alessi's Ark, French fiddler Mirabelle Gilis, and zither player Graham Mushnik, to add texture to the songs. The songs sat in various states of readiness on Backhouse's computer for four years as the band tweaked them and slowly turned them into a cohesive album. When they finally decided it was done, they circulated a four-song EP that piqued the interest of the Coral's Liverpool-based record label Skeleton Key, which signed the group to a deal. Their first release on the label was a self-titled cassette in April of 2018, and the band soon began playing live shows for which they were joined by drummer Phil Murphy and vocalist/flutist Maja Angevik. The Fernweh's debut self-titled album was released by Skeleton Key in late 2018. ~ Tim Sendra
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