Monday, December 1, 2014
Fire Retarded "Scroggz Manor" on Big Neck Records
Last I heard from Bobby Hussy he told me about how he was recording and mixing Fire Retarded's latest album and how he ended up playing a lot on the record and eventually joined them on tour as a permanent member of the band. I like to think it probably started out recording as friends and he stood in on a song or two ...or three and now his own band The Hussy has to take a break for a minute while he blasted out amps and lighter fluid across the country. It makes complete sense they would have gotten together in the first place for the same Hussy approach to guitars and manic energy. Fire Retarded brings a thick southern rock sound to their garage and close the door in some kind of fuzzy hot box on this self titled record.
On the Scroggz Manor side "Locks & Looks" opens the record flat out flying, if they were looking to have a grab your attention track right away, they got it. It's toiling away in a rumbly, layered Motorhead distortion with pauses between their chorus of hillbilly blues metal with plenty of thick guitars from Bobby and Tyler filling the sonic space. Reverb feedback swirls into space, in a kind of unnatural sound that they'll keep turning to on this record. It's all going too fast with Tyler's vocal just off in the distance but those knob twisting sweeps are what takes this to a new place. Dropping out to nothing but a spastic beat the guitar sneaks in a solo psych section only to blow the doors down again. This album is loud, tot he point it makes the track breaks al mot deafening. It's also all about the guitars, not that the rest of the band isn't doing their part to support this speed, but the dual guitars of Bobby and Tyler are making his. It's so hard to nail this kind of energy on tape. Too many times you're blown away by a band live and the album doesn't come close to the intensity of what you witnessed the other night. This may be the first example of the opposite*.
Their underlying metal sound comes on strong on "Brain Burger" who's beefy (pun intended), changing, quick chords lost the bluesy pysch. This takes a sledgehammer approach and sticks with the Hot Snakes style of bricked barre chords. "Game of Take" even reminds me of Diarrhea Planet, briefly slowing down to wade into verses slipping deep to the chorus, the guitars the biggest part of the wake. Loud and technical they seem to be playing off each others parts as fast as they're coming up with them. A primal vocabulary, of huge chords, blocks of primary colors stacked in solid, square ways, no hesitation in their clipped Ramones distortion and gated sound with the dumb fun of where garage has somehow ended up. It's not so much about the piling on of layers as it is the single mindedness of the melody and texture of those strings and pickups capturing the overblown vibrations. Hums of feedback and tones rise and fall in and out of sync to close the "Scroggz Manor" side.
And we're going into the "Scroggz Cave" side and I'm getting nervous that if the A-Side was the upper class Scroggz now that we're going down into the scuzzy cave, things are going to really get nuts. "High Horse" opens on shallow sounding slappy drums before the sludgy heaviness grinds in with a serious thundery FUZZ style buzz, that Ty Segall project but with a scrappier punk edge. Tyler on vocals is into his screamy, throaty bellow while a solo peeks out from the low end wall eq'd right into the dirt with a big finish. "What You Say" is darker with a slower kind of lounge style of muted chords and I swear I hear Heather Hussy in the back of this one in the chorus. It's their southern classic rock sound breaking in like The Allman brothers of dirty garage. Layers and layers of distortion, all in perfect sync to hard and fast changes. "Dicktator" continues this shaking itself apart ride, determined to get things boiling, completely raging even when they take a slightly new direction like this bluesy country number with that blues bassline and rawhide sound, like you just spent days at the campground music fest and the cotton balls are still in there."Overrated Kayak" slows down the chords for a slower track that references the sludgy Seattle sound, even with that acoustic break building the track back up and actually surprising you. They don't have to just be dirty oilless pistons grinding into the red, on this one they feel like they're enjoying themselves and taking a load off sitting on lawn chairs. There's a slow motion lens flare as someone dumps a beer over a buddies head. A perfect end allowing for a pause to collect these thoughts and take in that barreling avalanche that was Fire Retarded. The track devolves into crazy guitar effects panning and spinning up and down focusing on one melody and diverging into this massive epic number for the tempo, and you don't even want to get back to the white gloves and champagne of that manor so quick, it's kind of nice down here.
* I have not seen them live however.
Pick this up from Big Neck Records.