Feel Good Rock N’ Roll fro Fatal Jamz

774186331-1There’s a bit of 80s cheese in this release from Fatal Jamz, but if you get over yourself, you’re going to find yourself happily pumping your fists to this tune, and the rest that reside on Vol. 1. The songs on this release are simple, yet they’re filled with delightful pop moments that you can’t wait to sink your teeth into as each note reaches your ears.  Honestly, it reminds me of Free Energy, except it sounds better, and not quite as revisionist. If you dig what you here, you can sink your teeth into an entire album’s worth of top-tapping, fist-pumping (not bumping) good times. Have fun folks!

Jeff the Brotherhood – We Are the Champions

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Very few duos really seem to pack a punch, the last one I recall that really killed was DFA 1979, but the latest release from Jeff the Brotherhood is definitely a record that will lightheartedly kick you in the teeth.  This is a good thing, as summer needs some rock n’ roll, and that is precisely what We Are the Champions gives it listeners.   Want to have a good time, then run out the door, pick this up, and blast it as loud as you can!

Like various other bands taking this arena rock approach, namely Free Energy, you can feel the studied past of classic rock and punk flowing through the veins of the Orrall Brothers. But, what seems to put Jeff the Brotherhood far ahead of their peers is that they actually seem to be enjoying their portrayal of the sound.  “Hey Friend” spends the first half of the opening track giving you one hell of a gritty rock jam, but then it sort of breaks into something entirely different; its part Weezer, part Ramones, part arena ready rock.  It’s just plain good.

Sure, you could take a knock at the band for giving you some fairly juvenile song titles, and possibly lyrics, but occasionally, the execution matters far more than the actual thought process; such is the case on We Are the Champions.  “Cool Out’ speeds through, with a pace that would probably force Joey Ramone to think twice, but it’s got sort of a power-pop-punk feel, like early Queers albums.  Perhaps it’s the fact that the band is just a duo, forcing them to focus on their simplicity when it comes to songwriting, giving their sound something rather refreshing and clean.  “Bummer” has buzz-saw guitars and just a steady drum beat keeping time, but it’s the “whoa-ohs” and vocal harmonies that make it such a killer track. The louder the song gets, the more you just want to have fun.

But, it’s not all fast-fueled punk-ish sounding arena rock, but there are some momentary allusions to stoner-rock as well, or sludge-rock, like “Ripper.”  It just opens with this filthy jamming moment (one of the few times I like a jam), and of course it blasts off into a furious energetic blast, but the sound of the guitar definitely is filled with dirt and grime, unlike some of the cleaner sounds on earlier tracks. Really, these guys are all over the place throughout the entirety of We Are the Champions, but in an endearing fashion that makes you want to pump your fists and sing out loud.

Album highlights for me include the heavy hit “Mellow Out,” or the oddball psychedelia-hints from “Health and Strength, and definitely the closer “Wastoid Girl.”  Once you give a listen to this release from Jeff the Brotherhood, you’ll be thumbing through lyrics sheet, or pressing play over and over again, as the band has crafted an entire record full of sing-a-long hits that are sheer fun.  You’re looking for the perfect record to blast loudly while you get ready for the night? You need look no longer, as there’s nothing better today than listening to We Are the Champions.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/04_Shredder.mp3]

Download: Jeff the Brotherhood – Shredder [MP3]

Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Since they released their first 7″, the name of Free Energy has hit all across the blogosphere, garnering hype as a straight ahead rock ensemble a la Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick.  Backed by the production talent of LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy, no one had any idea how far this band could really go. Finally, Stuck on Nothing is upon us, and it lives up to all the accolades for the most part.

That first riff off “Free Energy” hits you hard, with a little rock emphasis thrown in by the excessive cowbell. It’s easily the most hook-laden on the record, and it’s one you could easily find lying on mainstream radio channels alongside the likes of Weezer.  Sure, that seems frightening nowadays, but you know you liked the blue album too!  I mean, its filled with the exact same sort of mediocre guitar solos in the middle.

They don’t stop bringing you their cookie-cutter rock moments for the first several tunes on Stuck on Nothing.  Despite the originality in the opening minutes, you’ll find that songs like “Dream City” just have that sort of hook that you imagine your parents got stoned to during college, which probably means you did the same in high school at some point. But, you’ll find that the band is just more than a nostalgic throwback once you get to “All I Know.”  Yes, it does have a very similar riff aesthetic, but slowing down the pace of this track reveals that Free Energy can grab your attention without being overtly in your face all the time.

From here on out, the record begins to really hit its groove.  The band discarded the balls out fury they opened the album with, opting instead to push their sound just a little bit further by working on those guitar solos, and in fact, in doing so, they’ve made the rhythm guitar moments sound a great deal more effective.  It’s this sort of song construction that creates ultimately more enjoyable moments than those fueled by cock-rock.  Sure, you can hear all sorts of Thin Lizzy over “Young Hearts,” but Free Energy somehow manage to make it all their own (most likely due to a singer that is not Phil Lynott). “Hope Child” is another step into the band developing their own sound entirely.  They take the classic guitar stomping moments that have been present throughout, but they throw a bit of California punk vocals atop the whole mix.  It’s an effective move, one that makes the band sound a infinitely more relevant in today’s musical climate.

As you can see, the one thing that the record really lacks is excessive creativity.  That being said, no one is going to deny that you’re going to have a whole keg worth of fun jamming to this record all Spring long.  Occasionally it’s okay to let go of all pretense and just let your hair blow in the wind, and Free Energy is here to be that band for you.  Stuck On Nothing brings you exuberance for days, and as the sun comes out in March, could you ask for more?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/free-energy-free-energy.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Free Energy [MP3]

FT5: SXSW Bands I Have To See

What’s that ya say?  SXSW is almost upon us?  Get the F*** out!  With our fancy little music festival we call SXSW coming up in March, I wanted to take a quick look at some of the bands I just gotta see during the upcoming week.  Now obviously I had to stick to a few strict rules here.  For starters, the band has to be one I haven’t seen before.  Two, it has to actually be possible to see the band (sorry STP & Band of Horses).  Three, the band needs to be fairly new with high praises coming from us and others.  I’d say that about does it.  These are bands on the verge of breaking it big in the national scene.  Will they have what it takes to impress me and the snobby Austin music scene with their live shows?  Only time will tell…  Follow the jump for my full list of bands I’ll be waiting in line to see during SXSW.
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New Tunes from Free Energy

freeenergyFree Energy busted out their self-titled 7″ off DFA recently, and we brought you that track, and all its glam-rcok swagger, but we’re here now to throw you the other side of the coin.  “Something in Common” is the B-Side, but it’s completely different, wearing the tag of maybe an Albert Hammond Jr. pop influence, which knowing us, is sure to win our hearts. Get into it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Free-Energy-Something-In-Common.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Something In Common

New Tunes from Free Energy

freeenergyFrom the ashes of Hockey Night comes the straight-nostalgic rockers Free Energy. Word on the street is that the man behind the production of the groups self-titled 7″ is none other than James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. You’ll find all sorts of reference points on this album from the days of old, but probably not the ones you would expect.  Try this one on for size.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/free-energy-free-energy.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Free Energy [MP3]