Tag Archives: Album Reviews

Review: Fat Creeps – “Must Be Nice” [2014]

Band: Fat Creeps
Label: Sophomore Lounge [LP] / Gnar Tapes [CS]

Sometimes people have a habit of associating music with a particular season or climate, but you see listening to the Fat Creeps is an everyday kind of musical experience. This is hardly anything new! From their early days when they readily donned costumes and frequently changed guitars and instruments up through the more subdued times of late, Fat Creeps’ sound has remained about the same: indefinable, but always rocking – sometimes straight up pop, sometimes far more strange!

The first recordings of the Fat Creeps – their self-titled EP released in 2012 and later issued physically by us KLYAM Records and their two song Feeding Tube split 12” with ZEBU! – are peppered with all waves of punk and surf-pop with guitarist/vocalists Gracie Jackson and Mariam Saleh often singing in harmony or trading lines. Those two songs, “Dad Weed” and “Daydreaming” appear 1-2 on Must Be Nice, the band’s first full-length album released on Sophomore Lounge and GNAR Tapes. Their inclusion here is an excellent way to acknowledge their past and usher in some newer sounds. Third track “He Comes In Loudly” supremely shows off the styling and distinctions of Gracie and Mariam. In fact, this one sounds like a best of everything that the pair has done in their four years together. Gracie’s astounding and mumbly vocals on the verses meet up with Mariam’s haunting backing vocals before they so elegantly collide; Gracie ruptures into a brief solo before finishing the song as it started. After this most intriguing song and with good reason, Fat Creeps diversify their arsenal from here on out.

“In Name Only” is Must Be Nice’s “700 Parts,” a Gracie song for sure! Super chill, super hard to figure out what she’s saying, dreamy, surfy. “Blue” is similarly vibed, although it is markedly faster and here Mariam sings her articulate leads. Same is the case for the first two songs on SIDE B. “I’ve Got” is insanely hooky, the bass fuller than ever it seems and the guitars screeching in the old garage. The girls are up to trouble by the time those sludgy distorted four chords enter into the picture and someone’s won or warn.

Get ready to break out your best late ‘70s dance moves for “Party” and don’t be surprised if you catch your hip or not so hip mom, dad, grandmother, and sis causing their own raucus in the rumpus room. Take DEVO and the B-52’s for a point of reference. Fat Creeps certainly have the sweet ability of uniting the punks, the hippiesters, and the family accountant who will instantly reminisce of his days spinning The Gun Club’s Fire of Love at the college radio station. Must Be Nice has you toe-tappin’, head bobbin’ through and through, perhaps most unevenly on “Bak 2 School” – anxiety is high, but so isn’t the whatever factor. Just give me noisy guitars and a throbbing bass. No words necessary. In pure helmets and wedding dress Fat Creeps fashion, the band goes full circle, ending the album with their first song, their first video, the one that drew the acclaim of the Boston Phoenix and the rest of us. NANCY DREW. We got Gracie in our left ear, Mariam in our right, in this more minimalistic, poppy number with one chorus you ain’t forgetting anytime soon!

Noisy, surfy, garagey, who cares-y, Fat Creeps keep things light always. The spooky and haunting aura that has surrounded them since the beginning is only slightly demystified on Must Be Nice and hey, that sure is nice. I wouldn’t go up to them and start quoting their songs, but if I was you and you were me, I would attend every possible show of theirs that you can.  And lastly, credit to Jim Leonard, who drummed on this record and all of Fat Creeps earlier offerings. His versatile and tight drumming is instantly recognizable, holding down the fort economically and just-in-time like an expert operations manager.



Album Review: “Heaven” (The Walkmen)

Label: Fat Possum

Comments: I love A Hundred Miles Off. There, I said it! The band hates it. The critics looked at it unfavorably. Fans don’t really mention it among their Walkmen favorites. What does that have to do with Heaven? Well, A Hundred for me is a fun variety of spirited tunes — the garage/punk influenced “Lost In Boston” and “Tenley Town,” the Everyone Who era “All Hands and the Cook,” the unforgettable horns in “Louisiana”. So on and so forth. 2008’s You and Me was outstanding as well, but it sure did mark a shift in the band’s sound. A lasting shift. Heaven emotionally feels like a continuation of the vibes of Lisbon. You can tell who was behind the boards for Heaven – that would be Phil Ek, who has gotten involved with some higher profile ‘indie’ bands like Fleet Foxes and Modest Mouse. The rampant “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” on Heaven sound less like something Hamilton would think of on his own and more of an Ek thing. I hate those. BUT one of the benefits of “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” is the fact that (most of) the songs that don’t have a part like that stand out. I will say that I’ll forgive it on “The Witch,” which additionally has a remarkable bass line and some eery clanging. Songs like “Heartbreaker” (great guitar playing and tempo), “Heaven” (minus the extensive oh-oh-woah-oh-oh) and “The Love You Love” feel the most complete to a dude like me who prefers faster stuff. I’d say these three songs in particular might be better than anything from Lisbon. That’s a good record, but not something I could consistently find myself getting into. I think some other people might feel this way. It seems sort of useless to shit on the real slow songs because they do in fact have some worth. The guitar picking in “Line By Line” really draws me in and makes me wonder how the song will turn out. The instrumental minimalism is outstanding. And yes, I can see where people prefer similar minimalist-esque numbers like “We Can’t Be Beat” and “Southern Heart,” but at this stage it’s hard to keep going back to those. The mid-tempo stuff is more pleasing. There are little critiques here and there. “Song For Leigh” has a cool chorus, but I feel like they could have it taken it a few steps further instead of diving right back into the verses. I think these guys had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to include on this record — a few big rockers, some mid-tempo jaunts, and a handful of slow songs. Perhaps the production role that Ek played wasn’t as important as I’ve made it seem, but it seems like in the recent past they’ve left more of an impression without the aid of a larger name helping out. Take You & Me. Practically every song on that record is memorable and inviting from the get-go. With Heaven, I think there is some potential for it to have a lasting impact, but as a young, long-time Walkmen fan it’s rather difficult to embrace the band’s current direction with respect to previous releases. They’re older, they have kids and frankly maybe the thought of another You & Me ‘grandiose’ album or another hard-hitting Bows + Arrows type of work just is not something they want to embrace at this stage. To each his own. I’ll always have a soft spot for The Walkmen being one of my favorite bands from a time when I really started to get into music. I’m not one to shit on a favorite after a lack-luster release or two and certainly Heaven isn’t one of those in the traditional sense. Here’s to hoping it grows on me some more and even if it doesn’t I’ll always keep a focused eye on what these guys are up to next. They’re just one of those bands.

Classic Album Review: III

Artist: Sebadoh
Full Title: III
Year: 1991
Label: Homestead
Grade: A-
1) The Freed Pig- 9
2) Sickles and Hammers (Minutemen)- 7
3) Total Peace- 8/9
4) Violet Execution- 9
5) Scars, Four Eyes- 9
6) Truly Great Thing- 10, Best Sebadoh Track, Hands Down!
7) Kath- 8
8) Perverted World- 8/9
9) Wonderful, Wonderful- 8
10) Limb By Limb- 8
11) Smoke A Bowl- 7/8
12) Black-Haired Gurl- 9
13) Hoppin Up and Down- 8
14) Supernatural Force- 8
15) Rockstar- 9
16) Downmind- 7
17) Renaissance Man- 8
18) God Told Me- 8
19) Holy Picture- 8
20) Hassle- 8
21) No Different- 8
22) Spoiled- 10
23) As the World Dies, the Eyes of God Grow Bigger- 9

Comments: This album is the definition of Lo-Fi! This is just about as low as it gets. We hear very raw recordings of what some slick shit would masacre into a clean, traditional pop song. Not Sebadoh! This enormously influential group/album unleash a lengthy LP of noisy, loud, quiet, and everything in between sounding numbers. Singer/Guitarist, Lou Barlow (formerly, at the time, now presently, of Dinosaur Jr) and crew utilized a Portastudio cassette tape recorder to achieve this distinct, lo-fi sound and it absolutely gives the album a certain feel/vibe. I’ll admit, this is the kind of record, you don’t listen to track by track over an over again, but there is much to be appreciated here. With that being said, there are many notable tracks. From the get go, “The Freed Pig,” is rather catchy and serves as a memorable opener. “Violet Execution,” “Scars, Four Eye,” and others continue in this fashion. Then, you have your bizzarre, quiet, incredibly lo-fi tunes in “Total Peace,” “Kath,” “Smoke A Bowl,” and several others. Lastly, there’s the “low pop” songs, as I have dubbed them lol. Two strongly stand out and thefore I have granted them the highest of scores, with a 10. First, we have “Truly Great Thing.” One of the most passionate, yet simple songs I have ever heard. First thing that came to my noggin, THIS IS A FUCKING ELLIOT SMITH SONG! Seriously, this sounds just like ES. Being a fan of him, this works very well. You could say, it is a truly great thing ;) Secondly, we have the classic, “Spoiled,” as seen/heard in Larry Clark’s disturbing film, Kids. If I was asked to point to the best example of Sebadoh’s lo-fi style, I would have to place the Burger King hat on “Spoiled”‘s little dome. The final track, “As the World Dies, the Eyes of God Grow Bigger,” showcases Barlow’s wide vocal range: from line to line he SCREAMS and then softly sings, back and forth. It’s also a very humorous ditty, my favorite line is, “EVEN MY GRANDMOTHER LOVES TO GET HIGH!” He shouts this with all his might. Overall, some songs are better than others, but it is worthy of at least one listen and has become a respectable addition to my record collection.


Album Review Housekeeping

Ok, so in previous reviews I would rate a track as 9.5. 8.6, etc. From now on, I want to do my bestest to rate them as solid numbers: 8, 9, etc. If I cannot completely make a decision I’ll settle for a 8/9, 9/10, etc. However, the amount of 10s an album has does not necessarily make that better than an album that has some 10s and some 9s or whatever. It is the strength of those 10s that determines how favorable the album is to me. For example, Rage Against the Machines’ debut album consists of all 10 tracks, but it is ranked #2 on my list of favorite albums. The #1 album is Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon/, which has some 10s, 9s, and 8s. But, the 10s (“Breathe,” “Time, ” “Brain Damage”) are so exceptional. Also, we tend to use the word “classic” around here quite frequently. At least for me the standard for a classic is a decent reputation as a notable LP and a release date prior to 2009. This is the case, since most albums reviewed here are current releases. Godspeed…

You Black Emperor!