Both of these EPs can currently be downloaded for free at the given links. Go get them. When they see official release, buy them. It feels good to spend money on music. Records don’t give you hangovers. The really good ones might, but that’s a whole other matter . . .
“Always Be Alone” blazes a path through the speakers, cutting and snarling and hammering right into the fist-pump inducing intro to “Modern Girl,” the latter of which may well be the best song Something Fierce have yet to commit to tape. It’s a timeless punk anthem that could’ve been played by John Peel, could’ve risen from the 90's underground, or (apparently) could’ve been recorded by a young band in the first decade of this century.
“Hey Houston” would sound smug coming from anyone else: as-is, it’s a call to arms, an indictment, a lament rising from the pit itself instead of pretending to be above it. It is, in short, the most brutally triumphant and snotty moment local music has had to offer this year.
“Why Can’t I?” exemplifies the best points of the band’s sensibility and instincts. They have the rare gift of constructing riffs and melodies that lead the listener toward the seemingly obvious before tugging in another direction; their influences are studied and in place, and the confidence is inspiring.
Between “Come For the Bastards” and this EP, Something Fierce have tightened their sound to the point where it’s throwing sparks in every direction. I dare you to find a local rock band that’s better prepared to take over the world.
The Early Days EP (available here)
“Flowers” is sweeping and dynamic, lacking the grandeur of Black Angels and residing firmly in the camp of musicians who have been irretrievably touched by Anton Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre. The weakness lies in the lyrics, which sound like something from a Fields of the Nephilim record (i.e. it’s very hard to take them seriously) and make it difficult to forget that you’re listening to a debut recording.
Fortunately, the track is followed by “Make You Smile,” arguably the crown-jewel of the entire effort. It’s solid pop-psych that beats Morning After Girls at their own game and should be enough to make one sit up and listen to the rest of the collection. It’s simply one of those semi-flawless gems that cynics will call a fluke, an assessment that lacks foresight. The band explores a plethora of sounds, schemes, ideas and motifs in 21 minutes, ultimately proving that they’re still looking for a path, which is, after all, the idea behind an EP.
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“Nine out of Ten” is draped with a thick, nearly gelatinous guitar rhythm that seems conspicuous at first pass. On repeated listens, the track emerges as strong evidence that The Early Days damn well have the chops to grab some of their lofty sonic ideas. It’s mind-bending in places while maintaining a nagging pop sensibility.
“Someone” is passable but feels like filler; you don’t have anything against it while it’s there, but you almost immediately forget it once it’s gone.
“Takin’ Chances” features the best songwriting in the set. It’s melancholy, honest, and informed by brevity, showcasing the maturity that makes the band worth listening to.
This is not a groundbreaking, epoch-making recording. It is ultimately an unfocused effort and too scattered to be great. But beyond the flash and filigree is the potential for something less innovative than interesting and a palpably ambitious band trying to do their part to carry the neo-psych torch through this era. This record is far better than it has any business being and should do a fine job of separating the fans from the merely curious. If these songs don’t make you want to keep an eye on The Early Days, nothing will. – Chris Henderson