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    [ Fa5hioncolt ]

    5 Song EP Minor League Recordings

    Fa5hioncolt is a weird band. Their appearance is weird, their music is weird, their new recording is weird. What other people/things do I also consider weird? Talking Heads, M2M, the movie Chuck and Buck, the Minutemen, the comics of Chris Ware and Captain Beefheart. Fa5hioncolt is in good company.

    In person, I first encountered them as thus: two indie-rocker types, in thrift store garb, on guitar and bass/vocals, a drummer looking uncannily like B-Real from Cypress Hill, a really tall guy on second guitar, who reminded me of Kevin Kubuchevski from You Can't Do That on Television, and yet another guitarist who looked… well, normal, which was a weird thing in itself. Instead of the loud, thick and heavy noise one might expect from a three guitar band, I got playful, quirky art pop with a nice dissonant edge.

    Here's how the show goes down: From behind the kit, the goateed skinsman (named Evan) propels the group forward, laying down unabashed dance beats. This causes the foreground players to bob, bounce and swing in time, like wind-up toys. This visual appeal is further enhanced by the nonstop energy of lefthanded bassist/vocalist Andy Brooks, who enthusiastically bounds around the stage like Peter Wolf in the "Light's Out" video. This player in particular fulfills frontman duties, a characteristic sadly absent from most indie-rock lineups these days. Brooks' bass boasts a taped photo of fellow lefty/bass-god/frontperson Paul McCartney, circa 1961. In fact, Fa5hioncolt live, look and behave much like the amphetamine-fuelled, 3 guitar lineup of the Hamburg-era Beatles, leaping and shimmying across the dingy strip club stages of legend.

    On record, 'colt's music is even weirder, right down the peculiar production (artificial snare sound, dry, direct sounding guitars, all sorts of eerie synths) Strangely, this strangeness works, embuing the 15 minute EP in a sophisticated spacey lo-fi coat. The opener, Poster fades up like an approaching space ship in full blinking beeping array. This UFO then touches down and all thickness is removed leaving a thin guitar sound. One of FC's greatest examples of inventiveness is their stripped down approach to arranging. Rather than use three guitars and bass to pile chord on top of chord, they take ONE chord and divide the single notes amongst the members. This wonderful note- distribution (rock orchestration!) fills out the song in a completely fresh-sounding way. Brooks' vocals are another plus, double-tracked and reminiscent of Ash Bowie. His phrasing and delivery also call to my mind Thurston Moore's vocals on "Teenage Riot". In this day and age of screamers, yelpers, snarlers and wussy emo-blokes, it is refreshing to hear a guy sing, which is what Brooks does throughout this record.

    Slipping Into Complacency is a straight-forward power ballad in hip clothing. More effective (as opposed to affected) vocals by Herr Brooks strike a delicate balance between yearnful singing and emo-whining. This song didn't strike me much at first… until that guitar solo in the second half. Call me whatever wimpy synonym you like; this guitar line is absolutely tear-jerking. I can't help but think of the 'sound-track era' Pink Floyd; David Gilmour suddenly coming in with this soulful line over a repeated progression ("Atom Heart Mother", "Saucerful of Secrets"). In all of these cases, the guitar arrives at a point of uncertainty and takes the band home to the final conclusion.

    Space Bar is a dope instrumental, providing further demonstration of the 'colt's arranging. Schoenberg pupil Alban Berg developed a technique called Klangfarbenmelodien; the idea of one note or chord, played at various times by various instruments in different registers. The opening of Space Bar is like this; all guitar and bass on the same note in the same octave. As the song progresses, headphone listening further reveals one guitar plucking muted notes (like pizzicato strings) against the others'sustained notes. This is a well-known classical orchestral trick. Amidst this all enter eerie synths and a theremin- like ghost wail. This then breaks into a fantastically delicious dissonant "chorus" section, rich in microtonalities and questionable intonation. Throughout this song, the go-go beat chugs along unfettered as more and more weirdness is introduced (organ, surf-guitar reverb, 50's sci-fi blips). This is a perfect track to do the Twist to.

    Transmit Her follows. This is the "hit single" of the batch, played weekly without fail on the local music showcase by WZBC's Tracy Stark (who is the alleged subject of the lyrics, or so she claims). The song is built on a unison bass/guitar figure and features more wonderful and decidedly demented vocals. And brother, you just can't beat those handclaps!

    JerseyCity…Seagulls is the two-part instrumental closer that takes the listener on a nice musical journey and neatly sums up the record. The opening guitar line (and various swells and fadeups) calls to mind Radiohead. The second half is a nice gradual rave-up that builds and satisfyingly expires to… applause? Yes. This track is an incredibly skillful and almost entirely imperceptible edit of a studio track and a live recording. George Martin would be proud.

    These fellows are much more than meet the eye. Go see them whenever they play if you live in the New England area. If you live outside of that, invite them to play in your basement. It is impossible not to grin and nod your head at the very least when listening to this music and seeing their live show. If I wanted to continue the "UFO/alien" metaphor I sort of haphazardly started a few paragraphs ago, I'd say "Fa5hioncolt come across as aliens playing dance music from another planet. But have no fear if their space ship touches down in the field next to the barn where you are having your next sock hop. {insert old school hip-hop reference for further cred] Much like Newcleus' Cosmo D from outer space, Fa5hioncolt have only come to "rock the human race""

    In other words, check 'em out. Its good stuff.

    Contact Fa5hioncolt: 62 Green St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 or email them at fa5hioncolt@hotmail.com

    Written By: Sir Brian C.