[2014.08.14] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.
The Pastures’ ponder the eternal questions with Ball & Chain. Two rock-steady acoustic guitars, a bass and a faithful cajon drive a melody sung with a West-Coast drawl. The evenly plucked arpeggio inversions and melodic chordal shifts in the verses ignite memories of the Crash Test Dummies’ transcendent hit whilst the tightly wound harmonies in the chorus look to a future-hope, like in Dispatch’s The General. The lyrics are delivered as if from the perspective of a wise-man, and ponder existential tribulations. Each of the many thoughts are started without further exploration or conclusion, which, when delivered so authoritatively, sound more pretentious than humble. The lead guitar solo is expertly delivered and after a final chorus leads the track into a Hotel California-style outro.
The artist categorises Grip as a track made ‘post-Burial,’ and it certainly provokes speculation as to whether they are organically influenced or riding within the trails of a sound now popular. Morpion’s submission starts as a hard and wonky power-walk through the heavy air of a vacant underground tunnel-network, interrupted by a repeating shout of ‘hey’ in the ever-distance, before a tremolo synth sweeps the track up into a more mechanical and intensified environment. Paranoia and unease are traditionally achieved with samples of language, distorted and broken enough not to be accessible.
Slow shifting progressions materialise from a cold distorted frost in the first part of Red Pools’ soundscapes. We are introduced to reverberated stones clicking and samples of inaudible radio conversations as the prominence of the chordal aspect of the sound increases in volume and intensity. Senseless I climaxes with chains rattling and a squeaky toy before the chords fade into a rough rumble. A sample of a male voice repeating ‘seven’ and tapped typewriter keys link us to Senseless II which is built-up over a regular thrusting bass-drum beat.
Fleckt Pets are staring frustration straight in the eye realising that they ‘can’t live with you, and [they] can’t live without!’ Tight clean Fenders are strummed and flicked across an off-beat hi-hat drum pattern, and all instruments are played with the unashamedly unrefined delivery of the punk-tradition. Our singer snarls spoken sentences for the verses, fighting for attention in the mix whilst pointing criticism at the subject of his torment. At the choruses, he is supported by backing-shouters as they all repeat the catch-22. Can’t Live is charming for juxtaposing spiritedness against futility.
Jet-packs are set to full-blast as we meet the people who covet the superior ranks in the Cosmos. With If I Was In Charge Of The Red Button We’d All Be Dead it would seem perhaps it is not so good to be King. Consumed by a fear that everyone is out to get him, our singer wails observations in support of his panic over grungey riffs until a wild wah-wah solo rips up into proceedings. A repetitive chant of ‘It’s in me, it’s in me, it’s trying to kill me’ builds towards the track’s final reprise of the main riff. All in all, a lot of gas in the tank, but no clear direction.
Can’t Live by Fleckt Pets is September’s Demo of the Month. It is joyful in its simplicity and the result compliments its inspiration. Though, like all of the submissions this month, Can’t Live sits firmly within the expectations of a popular genre, the immediacy and passion of Fleckt Pets’ performance felt the most sincere and generous. This song is a gift for the moment; a simple catharsis, less for the mind, more for the body.