Visit any work session with Boise band The French Tips and you are bound to encounter a lot of snacks. Now in their fifth year as a band, Angela Heileson (vocals, drums), Rachel Couch (vocals, guitar, bass) and Ivy Merrell (vocals, bass, guitar) have learned the art of treating themselves and collaborators to an abundance of food. What began as an avenue for releasing pent up rage through music has evolved into a refuge from the personal and collective challenges of being a human over the past five years. Like the array of snacks that they always have on hand, The French Tips also fuel their sound with a plethora of influences. Punk rock, post-punk, disco, dance, pop, funk, surf, and doo wop are infused into the garage rock sound they have honed over two albums, 2019’s It’s the Tips and 2022’s All the Rage.
The three musicians met in 2016 when their bands started playing shows together in the Boise music scene. Heileson and Couch were already playing together in the post-punk band Desert Graves when they met Merrell, who was playing in the dance punk band Get Wet Plus. The three decided to learn a few covers for a local benefit show under the name The French Tips. Playing Bush Tetras and Le Tigre covers, the trio realized their shared love of angry punk songs with a dance beat and began writing the music that would eventually become their debut record It’s the Tips.
Released in 2019, It's the Tips is an eight song ripper with heavy hooks and fevered dance beats that drive songs aching with righteous rage. A veritable feast of fourth wave feminist anthems, punk rock bangers and surfy love songs, It’s the Tips quickly became a local favorite. Couch, Heileson and Merrell, who share lyric writing and singing responsibilities on the tracks, only printed one hundred vinyl copies for its initial release with sleeves screen printed by the band. They quickly sold out and repressed the record. Following well received performances at Boise festival Treefort Music Fest, the band toured the Pacific Northwest with Built to Spill. They had the honor of playing with several other legendary bands including Tacocat, The Joy Formidable, Death Valley Girls, De Lux, and Sleater-Kinney. The year of its release, It’s the Tips was the most played record on Boise community radio station KRBX.
When their plans to record their second studio album were interrupted by the pandemic, Heileson, Couch and Merrell found new ways to create together without live music. They dreamed about their plans in sunny parks, ate snacks and found local artists and creative friends to collaborate with on what would become the artwork and promotional material for the record. When they were finally able to get back into the studio in January 2021, they had eleven songs and a clear vision of the artistic direction for their sophomore album All the Rage.
Featuring a gaudy pink cake designed by the band and brought to life by the talented Boise cake artist Sugar Librarian on its cover, All the Rage is a fire starter wrapped in pink cream. The record is a multicourse meal with pulsing dance beats, heavy guitar riffage and the nimble interweaving vocals of the three musicians. Its first track “Shade” harkens back to the riot grrl anthems of the '90’s, with all three singing in unison as Couch’s guitar slashes power chords and a frantic solo. “Farewell” is a frenzied, high energy blast with Heileson’s lead vocals that slams into a driving, contemplative breakdown of Couch’s throbbing bass and dreamy vocals and Merrell’s rich guitar work. Post punk pop gem “Halo” is a three minute delight that contemplates mortality while taking the listener “down a shady avenue.” “Bloom” begins as a dreamy and solemn soliloquy sung by Couch whose picked guitar draws the listener in before unleashing a dramatic chorus with psychedelic swells and a vamping bassline. Femicide nightmare “Pretty Killer” is set to the pounding of drums and bass and Couch’s screaming, wounded guitar, crescendoing like a knife fight. The record ends with “Hot Feel,” a catchy track featuring Heileson on bass and Couch on drums. The second half of the song is a meandering dialogue between Merrell’s guitar and Couch’s saxophone that intensifies like an argument before the whole track screeches to a halt.
All the Rage will be served May 13, 2022.