Monday, July 18th, 2005
Local Boy Makes God
I don’t trust one-man bands. I’m not talking about those guys with the kick drum on their back and cymbals between their knees. I’m talking about those sun-deprived looking guys who create entire musical manifestos in their basements. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always been a fan of the “band” – music created out of the chemistry of several individuals playing together rather than someone adding overdubs atop themselves ad nauseum. Not that that approach can’t yield great results, it just seems… less rock. And I also think it helps to have someone able to act as a bulwark against self-indulgence. There is great value in having someone around who is able to say, “dude, that sucks”.
So the eponymous debut album from Nottingham, UK’s unfortunately-named Amusement Parks On Fire is a pleasant surprise in that sense. Everything on the album was written and performed by one Michael Feerick, but instead of being over-laboured and collapsing under itself, it’s a cohesive, organic and gloriously dense work with big anthemic numbers interspersed with quieter, piano- or string-led interludes. The pacing can get somewhat predictable, but over the 43 minute running time, it’s acceptable. APoF is shoegaze in the same way that you can call M83 shoegaze – the sonic influences are unmistakable, but the songwriting trades the navel-gazing tendencies of their mid-90s forebears for a much more bombastic and aggressive style of writing. It can get melodramatic, yes, but what can you do. When it hits, it’s epic.
In the case of APOF, there’s the requisite huge sheets of guitar recalling My Bloody Valentine with just-enough space to allow vocals texturally reminiscent of Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin to creep through. Feerick combines this voice with an earnest, angsty delivery that imply the presence of more than a few American emo-rock records in the author’s collection. I’m willing to forgive the last point because at barely 20 years of age, Feerick no doubt still has issues to get out of his system. I expect better things from him in the future. The solo thing got him through the making of the record bue he’s since assembled a band for the purpose of translating it into live entity. The album was released in North America at the end of May and there was some select US touring to support, but nothing up this way as of yet. Maybe when he/they return for more touring in September/October (I believe they’re playing CMJ).
There’s a sample MP3 available from the good people at Filter, who are apparently a record label as well as a magazine. Check out some of the PR hype machine. They’re also running a contest for you to win APOF schwag. You can hear more audio at APoF’s MySpace page.
Supergrass enters their second decade with the release of Road To Rouen on August 30.
Check it out – got another quickie contest on the go. Anyone who wants to go see Jason Lowenstein, Neva Dinova and May Day at Lee’s Palace tomorrow night (show starts at 9pm, headliner at 10:50), shoot me an email. First five emails get two spots on the guest list, next five emails get rodent porn sent back to them. I’m not even going to make you answer a skill-testing question because, well, I haven’t had time to come up with one. But I’ve got another of these coming up in a couple days and that one you’re going to have to work for a little. But just a little.
np – Crooked Fingers / Dignity And Shame