Friday, 1 April 2011

Follly - S/T E.P.

This article is another one of my departures from the township of punk rock, venturing beyond the barbed wire-covered city limits to explore and write about my travellings from the neighbouring musical planes. In all fairness, this particular band reside in a county much closer to punk rock than Nell Bryden - garage rock after all is pretty close to punk rock, except with some extra fuzz pedals, some attitude, and bellowing. And curiously enough, not many actual garages.

Anyway, enough torturing of poor defenceless metaphors, let's discuss the band in question - a three-piece from Enfield by the name of Follly. Presumably someone else had already called themselves Folly, so they decided to forgo the effort of thinking of another name altogether and just crowbar another letter into the title, which I don't condemn, although it does mean I'm in the bizarre scenario of being chastised for spelling a word correctly. Anyway, as you probably guessed from my ramblings in the first paragraph, their shtick is hard-edged, fuzzy garage-rock, a genre with a lot of appeal to me but which finds itself often populated by arrogant prats too busy fanning their self-inflated ego with pretentious guitar solos and wannabe Kurt Cobain lyrics to actually give two tosses about their music. Time to dive in and find out if Follly manage to avoid this particular trapping.

The first thing one notices about the EP is the production, or rather lack of it. This is low-fi to the power of low-res multiplied by fuzzy divided by severe distortion, all to the square root of weedy-sounding drums. Seriously, it's hard to tell if the snare drum on the record is a snare drum or just a pile of old fruit boxes from the Asda warehouse. But still, as I've said before, nice shiny production on such DIY recordings as this are a luxury not many people are afforded, so criticising them for that is like criticising a tramp for wearing the same clothes everyday.

The songs themselves seem happy to wallow around in this festival of fuzz, with frontman Jack Cooney's guitar emitting guttaral growls of scuzzy noise over the cardboard-box-snare-drums and Leo Palmer's rumbling bass. These are the sort of songs that don't suit a glossy production anyway, so a middle finger is raised to the mixing desk and the band rock the fuck out instead. The four songs on the CD are a proud display of their sound - crunching riffs followed by more crunching riffs, with crashing drumbeats and the odd howled vocal line. In fact, Cooney's vocals put me in mind of early Tim Wheeler of Ash, as they flit from quasi-Matt Bellamy whines and groans to high-pitched histrionics. They work particularly well on opener 'Riff Rawr', which is probably the strongest song on the EP, with a nice quiet-loud dynamic going on amongst the Nirvana-aping chords and downpours of cymbals. Mr Palmer is everything you'd ask for in a power trio bassist - tight and restrained but capable of a bit of complexity when the situation calls for it. The same is also true for drummer Anthony White, who is powerful without ever being overbearing or domineering. Both lay a rock-solid foundation for Cooney to spray scuzzy guitar chords and wailing solos all over everything, and as a unit they work rather nicely - it's still a fair few live shows and rehersals away from the finished article, but it's a good starting point.

The disc isn't perfect, and suffers from a sudden case of schitzophrenia just past halfway - after the nicely heavy, QOTSA-aping 'Urb the Bird', 'Moth to Flame' feels inconsistant and unsure of a direction as it mines Feeder's debut album for inspiration, and ends up going on for about a minute too long, and 'AAAAAAH!!' suffers from the opposite problem - it only lasts long enough for your mind to reach the the second W in 'wow, this is pretty good'. Nevertheless, as previews of a band's sound go, there's enough highlights and hard-rocking fun on this disc to give promise for the future. They're a hard-rock band without the pretentious twatsmith ego, and with some decent tunes to boot too. Definitely one to watch.

Rating: 73%
Standout Tracks: 'Riff Rawr', 'Urb the Bird'.

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