The weekend is here…
It’s been what, a week since I last put something together here? Obviously, since it is Friday the 13th, hah! I, unlike most people, don’t live for the weekend. I think I’ve said that before because every day is a grinder. We grind hard for what we have. And now for lack of a better word or term, I’m feeling, um, pumped! It’s been a while since I’ve felt this energetic or thrilled. New changes are right around the corner and while I can’t say what’s going on, the energy around everything going on is going to be worth the wait.
But you know, today I’m at a crossroads. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the band simply known as Fiddlehead. They just released the new Springtime and Blind (Run For Cover Records) album and I wasn’t sure what decade it was for a second. The band lies somewhere between post-punk and post-era indie grunge, but the emphasis is on the band’s punk ethos. For fuck’s sake just bear with me here because I can’t seem to let go of this album every time a track comes on, echoing the reasoning behind my sentiments. From the very start here, the group begins its assault with loud melodic guitars on “Spousal Loss,” as vocalist Patrick Flynn guttural rasp is the perfect makes it the perfect combination along with that pummeling rhythm. First-time listeners and punk enthusiasts will gasp at how cleverly Fiddlehead wears its influences on its sleeves. And they won’t care because the song is put together so well. But what about the rest of the album? It’s more of the same, urging for continued spins/listens.
What the bloody fuck is this? Yeah, I was right, “Poem You,” although held together with loud bludgeoning guitars, completely balls to the walls, it probably one of the more low-keyed affairs, where you hear voicemail of Flynn’s father, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” It’s a much more personal number where Flynn sings, “I’ll see you again.” Easily one of the more heartfelt tracks I’ve heard in some time. One thing about the Boston-based band is they know how to pull out the simplest melody and make it fucking grand! “USMA” opens with drummer Shawn Costa’s wicked drumming before a basic four-chord progression…but don’t be fooled fool, there’s no need for extravagance when the music is lush and beauteous. The insanity of the distorted guitars holding a clean and vibrant feel is beyond me. Even when the rush slows down on “Head Hands,” the pace doesn’t affect the group’s general aesthetic. Fiddlehead’s sonic delivery on its debut is precise and controlled, as well as anyone can do it. The song structures, it may have been done before but never with this kind of melodic perfection with deafening volume.
Recordings are a dime a dozen, which doesn’t bode well for many artists releasing album after digital album. It’s become a rarity to find anything with a semblance of individuality or originality. On the new collaborative effort On Their Way, Atlanta emcee Dillon merges his words with the skills of Jacksonville beat maker Batsauce, whose production credits run the gamut of some of indie Hip-Hop’s elite. But this isn’t a history lesson, it’s about the new album. These two aren’t here to try and fascinate you with, nonsensical rhymes, grimy beats or guttural verbiage, not by a longshot. The music these two have pieced together are easily accessible without being pretentiously bland. They drop the dope beats that’ll make your head nod, very much like “You Should Be Dancin (Not Me)” where they want to move your feet with the bass-heavy groove and Dillon’s jampacked words. They’ll slow things now on “Nothin I Can Do,” as the horn sample and drum pattern make its way through the R&B-tinged backdrop. But these two aren’t about trying to simply play games here, there’s a lot more to Dillon & Batsauce.
On “Penmanship” the flip the script, with a guest appearance by Count Bass D as both emcees volley words back and forth over Batsauce’s sublime beat methodology. They use the backbeat with ease and aren’t shy with the braggadocio. Yes, they have skills with writing instruments, and they’ll tell you that over and over again, and none should have a problem with it because this right here? It’s a banger. “Beautiful Mistakes” slows things down and Batsauce’s beat simply compliments Dillon’s cadence here to full effect. And then you find yourself with yet another head-nodder “Keep Pushin,” this time around trading bars with ex-Brand Nubian Sadat X, whose voice is as unique as his cadence. You’ll fall in love here with both rappers but again, without the beatmaker, it wouldn’t be the same. The jazzy laid-back flow just works. Where would we be without Dillon & Batsauce? Probably stuck in a world where everything is overshadowed with mumble-mouthed rappers. These two, they’re definitely On Their Way.
It’s that moment you yell, “HELL YES!” when you listen to something as non-divisive as War On Women’s Capture The Flag (Bridge Nine). Easily, it’s an album the needs complete attention and focus on. One can get lost in the powerful chord riffing and rhythmic exchanges from track to track. In all honesty, I almost did, considering the band opens with the non-conformity of “Lone Wolves,” which begins like a Rollins-esque escapade to pummel senses but then turns itself inward into a hardcore mantric dance. Fast hand motions around guitars, frenetic drum sounds of urban youth and quick-spoken vocals in order to get the message across on the power of weapons and control. After about 20 repeated listens of the album, I went from reviewing to listening to what War On Women had to say, had to tell, had to scream. The power of the band’s words is obvious. They don’t speak to one group, one sect, or even one gender; the message sent here speaks to everyone if they’d just give a listen to understanding. There’s so much to say and probably not enough room left for the band to get out all of the emotional turmoil that’s ready to boil over. The title track finds its political stance direct and to the point, equating political play to an endless game we’re bound to repeat.
Now while “Predator In Chief” is shorter on the wordplay, there’s no mistaking who this is aimed at. While the band may share disdain towards the great orange monster, the song is one of the band’s more melodic tracks with fiery guitars and a fucking hypnotic rhythmic pace. The venomous delivery of “Childbirth” strikes home for many, as the band takes on the gritty reality of living in a constant state of fear based on one’s own status. War On Women needs to be applauded, both for the bludgeoning force of the music they’ve pieced together on Capture The Flag and for the courage to speak out about so many things others refuse to even acknowledge. This is what it means to tackle the world through music. Tupac would be fucking ecstatic.