Friday, November 30, 2007

review update

we're at Joe Terry's house in Des Moines so I thought I'd take this time to copy and paste some of the new albatross reviews before they fade away.

Happy Happy Birthday To Me [CD, 2007]

They call it a rock opera. Its full title is Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll. The storyline includes a bank robbery, a flee from the law that includes a rock tour, and a sting operation involving a proper name spelling bee. While there are several gems in Albatross, the album is best taken as a whole—as is the case with any album that follows a storyline from inception to conclusion.

Told in the first person, Eric [Fishboy] Michener [Fishboy front-man] follows the storyline from before his birth in “Minus 2” to an epic conclusion in “Farewell Albadross”. Not only does Fishboy plot within the album a fantastic fairy tale of a story, the rock opera makes up their live performances in natural progression—in other words, it follows the story from beginning to end. And the result is astonishing. Albatross may very well be one of the best albums of 2007, a year already packed with top-notch music.

When an album follows a storyline, the basic story elements should apply. Each song is a chapter in the storyline. There is a definite beginning and a definite end. There’s a climax, characters, and a recurring theme and plot. Fishboy covers them all. “Minus 2” sets everything up with a man [the hero of the story] from the age of "Minus 2" in 1981 to present day as a naturally born songwriter. In “Parachute (Using Buddy Holly’s Ghost As)”, a change occurs in the psyche of our hero and he sets out to to save the Lone Star State.

But conflict ensues as every journey costs money. Our hero gets a job and meets the “Taqueria Girl” and the journey commences with two on the run from the law after a successful bank robbery. From here, I’ll leave the plot behind for a moment and focus on the music itself.

Fishboy covers your standard twee-like rock/pop, but they do it with massive amounts of style. Sometimes in-your-face loud, other times softer and mellowed out, the band flows through climaxes and subdued sections with ease. The flow is impeccable with the storyline. There’s not too much power, nor too little. Everything is precise. “Hard Earned Money” takes the album to a lighter note before hitting hard with the anthemic “Racecar”. A major theme here and throughout Albatross is the conjuring of Buddy Holly’s ghost, who appears to dictate elements of the journey, guiding our hero along his quest. In the mind of the listener it could refer to our hero as Holly reborn to continue to spread the joy of rock and roll.

“Blackout” returns the album to the softer elements with a quiet beginning. As a title, Albatross is perfect. The title bird has gigantic wingspans, is known to cover millions of miles during its lifetime, and rarely stops to rest. It is in “Blackout” that our hero comes to the realization that the running may never end. And the album kicks back in the follow-up “Proper Name Spelling Bee” as the trumpet blares and the band backs Eric’s vocals by spelling out the title before concluding in a plot twist: The proper name spelling bee was only a scam / The cops busted in and shouted / ‘up with your hands tonight it ends your crime spree / We had been deceived / So we began to scream / The worst obscenities / At the proper name spelling bee.

“The Details Of Our Trip” continues with the fervor of “Proper Name Spelling Bee”. The climax of our story is near and our hero reflects on recent events. Things fly by and we soon find ourselves at the conclusion, where the band repeatedly chants: Farewell, dear albatross / Fly away home.

After a brilliant story, beautifully written and performed songs, a concept that will touch your heart and make you fall in love; how can you not love this band and this album? Were this Ebert and Roeper, it would be two thumbs way up (hell, they'd throw in the other two just for fun to make it four). Were it a play it would receive massive cheers from the crowd and a standing ovation. Were it a charity, I’d give a million dollars if I had a million to give. Were this site to have ratings out of 10, my answer would be 10 ten times over.

Fishboy - Albatross: How We Failed to Save The Lone Star State... (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) [audio] [upcoming shows]

Layered and not lo-fi, there's piano and trumpets announcing "Proper Name Spelling Bee" and a blasting organ carries the number-one-song-on-another-planet "Racecar". In other words, Tullycraft and Crayon team up and wrestle Apples in Stereo to the ground while singing songs about writing songs. This features the doubletracked nasaly vocals a la Daniel Johnston and Doug Martsch. Including the Cheap Trick meets Superchunk feel of "The Details of Our Trip", this is eleven blasts of sugar rush indie power pop. - mark 75ORLESS.COM

It's nice to come across a band that genuinely makes you laugh and enjoy life. Fishboy does that and more. Upon first listen, Fishboy reminds me of bands like The Dead Milkmen and old Flaming Lips. Then after a coupla more listens I was completely sucked into the crazy world that is Fishboy. I guess you could call it Fantasy/Comedy/Lo-Fi/Rock/Other/Thing music. Out of the musical mixing pot that is Denton, Texas, Fishboy, aka Eric Michener, and his band of merry musicians(John Clardy, Justin Lloyd, Adam Avramescu) have just set out on a Midwest to West tour promoting their album, Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll. Released on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, Eric says it's "a rock opera about how myself, the band, and the ghost of Buddy Holly attempt to save Texas by going on a tour/crime spree in order to perform all 8,030 of the songs I've written in my sleep since I was in the womb.” I guess that says it all.


be back in a sec with another poster

No comments: