Codi Caraco grew up in Los Angeles, playing intricate Rachmaninoff preludes on the piano while the rest of her family blasted psychedelic rock. She started writing songs in first grade, around the same time that she came to school singing Smashing Pumpkins and her classmates wondered about her, this little brunette virtuoso singing about a rat in a cage.
Brandi Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray, split her childhood between a tour bus and a home in Nashville, where she listened to Merle Haggard records and watched her father play guitar. It took her until age 18 to pick up the instrument, but once she did, the music came easily. She sat down with her father, matching his chords, repeating patterns. With her little sister rising to widespread fame, Brandi signed on as a tour guitarist and never looked back.
It was on one of these national tours that Codi and Brandi met five years ago, late one night, as the tour musicians—a group that included Codi's brother—headed wearily back to the buses. The two girls started writing music together, quickly finding that Brandi's folksy, organic sensibilities and love for 90's grunge was the perfect complement to Codi's ear for the off-kilter, structural and strange.
Together they formed FRANK + DEROL. The two of them started playing shows, refining their material and collaborating with other young artists. At some point, the music clicked. "We began making the music that we'd always wanted to make," says Codi. Brandi agrees: "The roughness of those tours, the two of us just playing acoustic—it made us grow up as artists, and our songs did too."
The result, one year later, is a phenomenal collection of music headed for EP release in September and a full album set to drop in 2013. Bringing to mind the effortless shimmer of indie-pop artists like Ellie Goulding and Freelance Whales, FRANK + DEROL's debut maintains a dimensionality--Codi plays Chopin in their standout track "Lightning + Gold," for example--that leaves the listener with a taste that's better than sweet. Anthems-in-waiting "Let It Go" and "Starve My Heart" begin with soaring, candy-apple pop progressions, then unfold in transparently raw lyrics and meticulous instrumentation, hinting at a core that combines both vulnerability and hope. Other songs, like the near-perfect "Barely Love You Too," are audacious and complex, combining an upper register of glittering keyboard ornamentation with a sophisticated melody and a brazen objective: "I'm not afraid to say I'm not ashamed/ You know that I would do anything/ Tell me what you want to say/ Is it safe enough to say/ I barely love you too."
FRANK + DEROL set out to make a record that anyone could enjoy, and they succeeded. This is the sort of music that teenage girls will play on repeat as they take their first road trip up and down the California coast. These are the songs that you'll inevitably hear remixed by esoteric DJs into grinding, chest-shuddering bass tracks with Codi's ethereal soprano layered on top. This is the album with the irresistible hooks that will win over even the most intractable hipsters: FRANK + DEROL, coming soon to a rooftop near you.
Written by Jia Tolentino