A Saturday Night with Diane Coffee

Posted by Caroline Falls

Shaun Fleming, of Diane Coffee, is set to perform at Falstaff's this Saturday, Feb. 22,thanks to the efforts of Skidmore's Student Entertainment Company (SEC). Skidmore's own Los Elk will open for the visiting artist, with a performance to rouse the crowd for what's anticipated to be a very big night.

Foxygendrummerand Diane Coffee's front man Shaun Fleming is one of several drummers (including Joshua Tillman of Fleet Foxes) who made a detour from their native bands to create solo side projects of their own. Diane Coffee resulted from Fleming's relocation from glossy Los Angeles to the greyer New York City with Foxygen. There, with the kind of empty minutes having the flu and being quarantined in an NYC studio apartment can offer, Fleming experimented with cookware, iPhone apps, detuned guitars and other unusual instruments in creating what would become the debut Diane CoffeeEP,My Friend Fish. According to Fleming, this transition from west to east and a heavy dose of cabin fever-which kept him craving his hometown and reminiscing about "the good old days" in Agoura Hills, CA-was the right amount of drive required to generate the album, released last year.

The EP combines 60's psychedelics evocative of Fleming's work in Foxygen; yet, the songs you'll hear in My Friend Fish areso much greener. Fleming's sound is something hard to put a finger on-it's a hodgepodge of the new and the old. Take the Baroque pop of The Zombies, replace the plaintive voice of Colin Blunstone with the kind of feminine soul you'd catch with Diana Ross, and you're almost there. It's a salute to Motown, yet it manages to feel new and not overly nostalgic to the point where you'd rather just listen to Ross' Love Child.

The first track on the album, "Hymn," is crispy and 2-D; it utilizes the resonance of an aged and dusty record. Fleming performs a kind of s??ance, channeling the Beatles when he sings, "I'll treat you anyway that you want/won't tell nobody nothing at all," with the kind of sex appeal and funk Lennon would sing "joojoo eyeball" with, in Abbey Road's "Come Together." When the track slows down again, and Fleming sings, "I give you my word/though it's certainly one that you've heard/I think that you're cool/oh yeah, I'd catch a cold with you," he's Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee again.

The final track on the album, "Green" consists of a mournful, psychedelic organ, indicative of The Zombies' "She's Not There," where Fleming laments his broken heart through a glittery kaleidoscope of reverb and percussion. Both tracks on My Friend Fish bookend an album of recycled yet classic sixties-style ballads that you'd expect to be sick of by now. But, Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee holds his own. There's a good reason why Fleming's childhood career, as a voice actor on Disney Channel's Kim Possible, didn't swallow him into obscurity. Saturday's performance at Falstaff's will show you why. And missing it will leave you with a sorrowful Sunday that a serenade from Diane Coffee could have saved you from. 

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