They say, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.
However, where Sheffield-based Frogbelly and Symphony are concerned, their album artwork is an accurate snapshot of one of the city’s most baffling bands.
Their album, Big Bright Ow Sleep, has a cover that sums up the band’s multi-instrumental, bonkers but coherent sound perfectly.
Cows wander on water, the sky is dominated by a huge dove and odd objects float on the foreground.
Frogbelly and Symphony are unlike any other city act.
They are part Sheffield-based, part Brooklyn based – its lead members, Thomas and Liz Hanley, are a married couple living more than 5,000 miles apart.
Instrumentation features trashing guitars, classical arrangements and vocal parts that oscillate between folk and punk.
But while Frogbelly’s sound is a psychedelic concoction, subject matter is often locally-focused.
Thomas says: “The song Shingle is about the village that lies beneath Ladybower. I have always been fascinated by the idea that there’s a village beneath it.”
The roots of the band reach far beyond Sheffield.
Thomas says: “My wife Liz - who is based in New York - is from an Irish American family, I am from Germany and one of our drummers is from New York. These origins feed into the sound as the Appalachian sound that was fuelled by Celtic folk comes through Liz’s parts. She also studied classical music and plays violin really well.”
“I’m from a Polish family living in Germany and we moved to the UK so it feels like we’ve always been escaping. I think that escapist approach explains my interest in punk and free experimental jazz.”
And throw into the mix an extra drummer in Sheffield’s Ally Fraser.
The band is already touring the UK on the back of a building fan-base and play Plug, Matilda Street this Saturday – see www.the-plug.com