Everybody’s a Good Dog - Western Vinyl – 4 September
In December of 2012, former Disney actor, Foxygen drummer and didgeridoo craftsman Shaun Fleming moved from his hometown of Agora Hills, CA to become the third roommate in a small Manhattan apartment. The move took its toll on Fleming, who soon fell ill with the flu. Not having any friends in New York, and not feeling well enough to explore the city, Fleming holed up in his apartment for the next two weeks, writing and recording songs everyday, a process that gave birth to the alter-ego Diane Coffee, and her first album My Friend Fish.
My Friend Fish was an album born out of sickness and nostalgia for the sunshine and solitude of California. Sweet, gritty, and full of life, the songs were our first glimpse into Diane's vibrant and pleasantly twisted world. According to Fleming, it was "a documentation of my new east coast existence. My acceptance and embrace of Diane." He goes on to explain "I had never lived in a big city until then, but spontaneous moves have always helped to inspire my writing. I don’t think I ever felt comfortable or at home in the city though. I missed the quiet. I missed having a fire. I missed the color green."
It's not surprising that after visiting the charming midwest town of Bloomington, IN (home of Foxygen's label) Fleming decided to make yet another spontaneous move. "I might just like new surroundings. It’s too hard for me to go from city to city, only to come back to another city," says Fleming. Naturally the move and the return to a small town got his creative juices flowing again. Just as the move from sunny California to New York inspired a dark album with relatively optimistic lyrics, his move from New York to Bloomington inspired the new album Everybody's a Good Dog, a bright energetic album with relatively dark lyrics.
Unlike the production limitations that defined the sound of My Friend Fish (recording drums on an iPhone, using a detuned guitar in lieu of a bass, etc) Everybody's a Good Dog was recorded in proper studios with an assortment of guest appearances, horns, and a string ensemble, finally bringing to life Fleming's deep well of talent and ideas. The album opens with the dynamic "Spring Breathes", which erupts from sweet acapella into bursts of full band mayhem as Fleming croons about a new love. "Mayflower" with its big brass and Motown swagger is a contender for party jam of the year, while the head-bobbing "GovT" explores "politics involved in the music business, and the struggle to govern and be governed." "Too Much SpaceMan", a psychedelic trip into the eyes of a jaded defense attorney, is followed by "I Dig You Baby" on which Fleming comes unhinged as he channels early New York Dolls. The album closes with the bittersweet "Not That Easy", which finds Fleming coming to terms with the fact that he'll never been an ordinary partner, "I will always be the lover coming home," he says.
The album's unstoppable grooves and melodies were written with live performance in mind. "I like performing more than recording. It’s like throwing a mini party each night that goes really well." says Fleming. When you hear him pouring every bit of his two decades of experience as a performer into these songs, it's clear that Diane Coffee is not a side project, it's THE project Fleming has been working towards his whole life.
“…it’s like sifting through a treasure trove of half-remembered gems.” NME 8/10
“Given the strength of this debut, Fleming can’t be in much of a hurry to get back behind the drum kit.” Q 4*s
“…closer to those whacked-out 60s sounds than many latterday impersonators. Brilliant.” Record Collector 4*s
“As a vocalist this kid has soul and a true voice. As a songwriter he’s truly a maverick, having digested the best bits of the past to create something truly special.” Shindig