Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Fathom Down - The Humms split on Odd Box Records

Just getting to the final installment of the first batch of singles from Odd Box Records, this one featuring One Fathom Down and The Humms, strange bedfellows to be sure, One Fathom Down is rocking a reverbed surf instrumental sound, while The Humms go for the home recorded acoustic folksong.

I never need an excuse to talk about Deadbolt, but One Fathom Down isn't going to let me get away that easy... this leather clad three piece comes out of London, with their day of the dead mexican imagery, the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth rat tatoos, and instrumental surf guitar. What struck me as immediately similar to Deadbolt is their own mashup of influences that no one else has ever put together....the horror movie themes, the reverb with real B-Movie creep. Like the Cramps, but missing the joke...they are the scariest band in the world because they never hint at a sense of humor. For halloween do yourself a favor and listen to Tiki Man on a lonely dark forest road in the middle of the night. Works every time.. One Fathom Down sound like a similar serious surf rock act, where these disparate influences come together as a straight ahead power surf combo. They get rough with a loud raw, gritty sound, that gets into those classic blues rhythms and sounds, especially on "Supercritical Ocean" with the huge cymbal crashes, the pounding riffs.
On "Breaking the Law" they go for a more Dick Dale whammy bar sound, a lighter melody, the guitars are the center more than usual, which brings me to the point of these guys aren't just the typical garage reverb surf artists, there's technically a lot going on here, this high screachy solo at the end a perfect example, it comes on at a ridiculous pace and is inhumanly executed. I like a band that finds an idiosyncratic niche like this and then completely excels at it to almost take it somewhere else. See Portal or Aphex Twin.

The Humms, out of GA, started recording about 4 years ago from a haunted trailer, toured extensively, and released a glow in the dark single recently. When you're exposed to a thin crackly sounding acoustic number like this it... for better and worse... gives mixed messages about the band as a whole. Was this the lead singer working on a demo in his trailer...or is this typical of what they usually bring to the table? In the latter's defense the sound does start to round out with far off slow, cushy cymbal hits, snare roll and a backup vocal 'oooo'...all of it adding up to a ghostly kind of full folk rock, that has been carefully crafted with all sorts of layers of harmony and a pretty serious fingerpicked centered acoustic that builds it's way out of just a simple 3 chord melody into faster and more complex structures as the track goes on.
The fact that this is coming from a UK label Odd Box, does make sense for the almost accented, nasal vocals here, looking at their site, I wasn't sure I had the same Humms actually based on this track that could be a minimal Kinks, Billy Bragg sounding story song...well Billy Bragg might be a bit much, but let's say theres some strong '60s over the pond influences at work here, which might not have anything to do with Odd Box. It's a track that stays complex and bouncy while talking about Jupiter, maybe the same god of war Jupiter? and his trials and tribulations of a regular life...the sad and pop together.

The weird thing about these records is I've finally gotten used to is the center label which says on the B-Side "Side 1 is One Fathom Down, Side B is The Humm", all on the same label which is on the opposite side, and it's no help to look at the inner matrix # which is *****/A on both sides!... I don't know either of these guys in a lot of cases, and here I end up thinking that acoustic folky ballad is One Fathom Down for a bit, until double checking online that those 3 dudes with greaser haircuts can't possibly be playing the "Jupiter" track...

There are still subscriptions from Odd Box available....all six releases can be yours...all at waiting, for 24£...whcih shouldn't be too bad at this point exchange-wise, isn't the world economy going to shit?

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