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Wow, I Really, Really Like The New Fang Island Record

May 1, 2010

Well, hi there!  Thanks for showing up, I’ve been waiting around a while.  Grab a cookie and a brochure there from the side table and have a seat.  Since you’re here, we’ll go ahead and get started, I’m sure the rest of the folks will filter in as we go.  Boy, I am just in awe of some of my fellow Tweedites’ musical exposition lately.  C.M.’s latest post on the new New Pornographers record and Mr. Stump’s (out of respect, I will heretofore always refer to him as Mr. Stump, even in thought) exploration of the progression of the beat behind “You Can’t Hurry Love” are the personification of why we hope you visit TBTS on a regular basis.  Both posts are readable by the average music fan, but they also provide an impressive analytic depth.  They remind me of my own limitations as a “music blogger”, mainly that many of my posts are a variation on the theme of “I really, really like this, and you should too!”  When prompted to expound on why this music is noteworthy, I take a spin on the old circular logic wheel and respond with a hearty, “It’s good, because I like it!” 

I bring these thoughts to you not in some whiny, woe is me fashion, but rather to illustrate the difficulty I have in writing about today’s topic, the new self-titled release by Brooklyn by-way-of-Rhode-Island band Fang Island.  I had no clue who these guys were when I got this album, it was a new release and was on some internet lists as noteworthy, so I picked it up.  I was driving when I first gave it a spin, with no particular fanfare other than it came after a listen to Kinda Kinks.  It. Freaking. Blew. Me. Away.  I knew I had to write about this album, so my thoughts turned to what I might write outside of “Listen to this new thing from Fang Island, it’s great!”

So this is the part where I have to tell you why it’s great, and that’s where I start to struggle a bit.  One way I can demonstrate the superbness of this album is through comparison.  I often extol the virtues of 2009 as a great year for indie music and I’m sad to say that on the first day of May 2010, this year doesn’t even compare.  I say this despite the fact that we have seen some noteworthy releases from Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Broken Bells, and the afore-mentioned New Pornographers.  But when compared to the first half of 2009, I just don’t think the overall body of work measures up.

Part of my opinion has to do with the February 2009 release of Akron/Family’s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, which to this day is one of my favorite records ever.  I think one of the reasons I love that album so much is because it sounds like a pure, unadulterated celebration of making music.  It isn’t technically perfect and although creative, it doesn’t necessarily break new sonic ground.  But listening to it reminds me of why I love music in the first place.  Because I just flipping do.  It fills me with a joy like no other, and when certain melodies and rhythms hit my eardrums I just have to stop and thank Heaven that I’m alive to hear them.

This is the way I feel when I hear the new Fang Island record.  Released in February (Coincidence?  I think not.) on Sargent House records, the record begins with what sounds like fireworks popping in the air, a simple organ refrain, and a kind of anthem that serves as a declaration for the entire record, “They are all within my reach, they are free…”  This leads into the second track, “Careful Crossers”, which features the triple-guitar interplay that, along with the organ, underpin the rest of the album.  The band describes its music as “everyone high-fiving everyone” and that is an apt description of this roller coaster ride. 

The strongest section of the album begins at track 3 “Daisy”, continues through “Life Coach” and culminates in my favorite song of 2010 so far, “Sideswiper”.  I’m not going to attempt to dazzle you by dissecting these tracks other than to tell you that if you can listen to them straight through without a smile on your face you should probably just go buy the latest Justin Bieber release and give up on this whole “indie rock” fascination.  There’s a large section of the populace that likes Top 40 music just as much as you do.

To fall in love with some early tracks is not to downplay the rest of the album, however.  Every song on here is strong and if this thing is up your alley, you won’t find yourself skipping over any of them.  It’s obvious these guys had a blast recording the album and I suspect they are just as terrific live.  Just get the album already, will you?  If you absolutely have to have a sample before you invest, feel free to meander over to where you can listen to each track for free.  That’s all I got, later!

  1. May 1, 2010 1:33 pm

    You sell yourself short, sir. In fact, over 50% of my music purchases in 2009 were based upon Caleb’s Elite Picks, and as far as I’m concerned you were right on in nearly every case. For my money, The Caleb Guarantee will never steer one wrong.

    Plus, you continue to successfully refreain from using the words “jangly” or “powerpop,” which automatically places you on a higher plane than most of the world’s music writers.

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