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Fang Island - Major (Cover Artwork)

Fang Island

Fang Island: MajorMajor (2012)
Sargeant House

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

This album had me at hello. "All I know I learned in kindergarten!" shouted over epic piano arpeggios and smooth sky-high guitar leads? Shit. As an elementary music teacher, nothing has ever expressed on such an animalistic level both my thoughts about the importance of early education and rock musi.
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This album had me at hello. "All I know I learned in kindergarten!" shouted over epic piano arpeggios and smooth sky-high guitar leads? Shit. As an elementary music teacher, nothing has ever expressed on such an animalistic level both my thoughts about the importance of early education and rock music in one four-minute chunk.

Fang Island have been compared to Andrew W.K. before, but it's an apt comparison that deserves repeating. Where A.W.K. screams, Fang Island lets their guitars do the screaming. They keep their vocals almost...twee? It's crazy that it even works. Where A.W.K. has "party" in every song title, Fang Island has tracks called "Kindergarten," "Sisterly" and "Victorinian." I don't even know what that last one means, but surely it's not about puking. I bet the only thing they're getting wet with is their own sweat from rocking so fucking hard, or perhaps with blood dripping from the fingertips of their left hands.

Major is the Providence/Brooklyn trio's third full-length, and while their 2010 self-titled breakthrough was kickass, this manages to improve upon it. The vocals are hotter in the mix, but still only as hot as the main guitar lead. So vox and guitars share the sonic space this time, whereas before the guitars and synths did most of the heavy lifting. The lyrics are kept simple, to allow for as many massive crowd singalongs as possible. Killer track "Make Me" is one of the few on the record to utilize honest-to-goodness verses. The drums are everything you'd want them to be: hard-hitting yet intricate, complex without getting showy. Everything about Fang Island is boiled down to subtract any heady or deep bullshit while letting the pure musical joy shine through. As they've said themselves, their songs sound like "everyone high-fiving everyone" and I couldn't think of a more eloquent way to put it. The album's first single "Sisterly" makes me want to high-five my sister.

Songs like "Seek It Out" showcase these shredders' abilities to use tons of pedals and fancy-shmancy playing techniques for good rather than evil. Wha pedals typically make your average music listener think of reggae or porn soundtracks. Fang Island utilize them perfectly to build the opening chord rhythm from a bassy rumble to a noisy treble onslaught in the course of eight measures. Later in the same song, you get well-placed pinch harmonics; no need to flood the song with them like you're Coheed or something. The song also shows their ability to sidestep overused rock riff staples by using unique rhythms. For example, on "Seek It Out" they avoid the downbeat at places where you'd think they would hit them the hardest, instead hesitating that brief moment to land on the "and" of beat one. Fellow music nerds such as these dudes and myself know exactly what I'm talking about. And the shredding, children! They tend to avoid Van Halen "meet me in the dressing room after the set" showiness, but they do pull off some crazy double-tapping towards the end of "Chompers" that layers on harmonies until you just cream your jeans at the key change. Even when they're just playing chords, it's incredible. "Asunder" ends on such a headbanging tear that you'd think the album couldn't continue from there. And yet, they continue right into "Dooney Rock," an instrumental in the vein of their first album; a metalhead's version of a hoedown. Super fast, super toe-tapping, yet features acoustic guitars throughout most of the track.

If another band attempted to be this "epic" throughout an entire album, it would get tiring. But Fang Island are so good at "epic" that they can do it slow ("Chime Out") or even quiet (the acoustic breakdown on "Sisterly"). They are always conscious to let your ears/brains/fists take a break from the workout now and then. The album opens with the slower, piano-built "Kindergarten" and closes appropriately with a chill-out song‚??"Victorinian"‚??consisting solely of organ and pianos. They play the pianos like they were shredding guitars, but it still counts.

Expertly timed to be released smack-dab in the middle of one hell of a blazing summer, if Major isn't the soundtrack to your BBQs and pool parties, you're doing summer wrong.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit ResistJapandroids - Celebration RockThe Flatliners - CavalcadeBaroness - Yellow & GreenFake Problems - Real Ghosts Caught on TapeTouché Amoré - Parting the Sea Between Brightness and MeThe Clash - London CallingThe Mountain Goats - Heretic PrideThe Hold Steady - Stay PositiveMy Bloody Valentine - Loveless

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Russe11 (August 2, 2012)

guy from daughters (nic sadler) is no longer in the band.

givemeamuseumandillfillit (July 31, 2012)

I like fun. Believe me, I like fun.

That being said, this record is complete and utter white noise to me. I barely even hear it. I wasn't a huge fan of the first record either, I mean, I do like fun, so The Illinois is obviously to my taste, but all-in-all, to me - this band is just less AWK and more simply a slicker/less wacky version of The Mae Shi.

Is the guy from Daughters still in the band?

1776 (July 31, 2012)

"Pershing" deserves its rating. Not sure about this one yet.

boobthemusicindustry (July 31, 2012)

Oops

boobthemusicindustry (July 31, 2012)

Self-Titled was better IMO. They lost their lead guitarist, I believe it inhibited them in their ability to make something more than just Andrew WK "fun" rock. That said, they happen to be quite a treat live, and this album still rules lots.

DarrenMcLeod (July 31, 2012)

There's nothing unwarranted about the 9 Greg gave to Troubled Hubble. Album rules.

EchosMyron (July 31, 2012)

johngentile is easily the best staff reviewer in terms of taste, analytical abilities, and writing style.

llmp (July 31, 2012)

greg0rb is the best current reviewer here. Basing your opinion off of an arbitrary numerical rating is for people who have difficulty reading.

greg0rb (July 31, 2012)

Those are all fantastic albums and I stand by their scores. Also, fuck off.

EchosMyron (July 31, 2012)

Top 10 albums to which gregorb gave ridiculously unwarranted 9s or 10s:

10. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
9. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
8. Of Montreal - False Priest
7. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Pershing
6. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
5. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
4. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
3. Troubled Hubble - Making Beds in a Burning House
2. The Hives - Lex Hives
1. Mock Orange - Mind Is Not Brain

greg0rb (July 31, 2012)

Mike for the win.

mikexdude (July 31, 2012)

Echos,

I'd give Mock Orange 9s and 6s.

Lol

Dante3000 (July 31, 2012)

I guess the 5 or 6 reviews up right now that are less than 4/5 don't count?

nickdiesel (July 31, 2012)

This album rules so hard.

greg0rb (July 31, 2012)

If you think this score is too high, you don't like fun. I do like fun. AUBIN - make the reviews archives sortable by score again! Then these turds could easily see all the 6s and 7s I've given.

Guys, even last week I had the Certain People I Know record (7/10) and Owen from last year up (also 7/10). Do your research, lazyboneses.

lmchc (July 31, 2012)

@ SydBarrett:

Do you remember this one: http://www.punknews.org/review/2881/madball-nyhc?

It got less than 4.5 stars.

EchosMyron (July 31, 2012)

Yeah, this album appeared very lackluster when I streamed it, but gregorb`s scores have always been inflated. Case in point: he keeps on giving Mock Orange (a capable band, but not modern greats) 9s and 10s. Moreover, he insists that John Darnielle is Robert Pollard`s songwriting equal, which is simply untrue if you have working ears and can differentiate lackluster songs from good ones.

SydBarrett420 (July 31, 2012)

LOL @ this receiving 4.5/5 stars.

The reviews on this site have become a joke. I can't remember the last time I saw a review on here that was less than 4/5 stars.

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