February 7, 2010

Indie Week: Feersum Ennjin

Tool is one of my very favorite bands. Imagine how excited I was to find a new band formed by Tool's former bassist Paul D'Amour. Very much so. And guess what? They're awesome.

Band Info:
In the great sprawling expanse known as Los Angeles, there exists a group of musicians who have been creating some of the most innovative and groundbreaking music of the past ten years. The genealogical tree that incestuously links the likes of Tool, Lusk, Failure, Autolux, Self, and countless others can be directly traced to Paul D'Amour, the mastermind behind Feersum Ennjin. Paul's story begins with the release and worldwide success of prog heavyweight Tool's full-length Undertow. His distinctive playing and song writing left its imprint on some of the 90's most memorable and influential music but in order for Paul to grow musically he felt the need to branch out to new sounds. This venture lead to the critically acclaimed, psychedelic pop sound of Lusk's debut Free Mars, with Chris Pitman (Guns N' Roses), Greg Edwards (Failure), and Brad Laner (Medicine/Electric Company). The dark sensibilities of Feersum Ennjin are an amalgam of lessons learned between being part of a groundbreaking prog rock band and an intensely experimental musical period. The power and aggression within are reminiscent of Tool, but lush harmonies, dynamic changes, and epic intentions allow for a wide range of styles and instrumentation harkening the dark melody of Bauhaus/Interpol with the arc of Pink Floyd and the driving force of Queens of the Stone Age. Written, performed, and produced by D'Amour in his Topanga Canyon studio and at Matt Mahaffey's (Self) recording studio (featuring Matt on drums), Feersum Ennjin understands the delicate balance between hard rock, experimental tendencies, and appealing melody. Tool fans won't be disappointed, and new fans will be anointed.

To date, the band has only released one album, a self titled EP, in 2005. Since then, they've recorded several songs that are floating about the internet. Today, I'll be reviewing their EP.

Review: Feersum Enjinn EP

1. "Lines"- Lyrically, these guys have a weird, choppy style. It's interesting, but not very smooth. Not necessarily a bad thing. This song in particular is a culprit of this. The music itself, however, is pretty awesome. There's multiple guitars going on here, one of then is rough and the other smooth which makes for quite an interesting blend of sounds.

2. "Solid Gold"- This song is just so catchy somehow. This one's got a smoother sound to it. Again, something interesting is going on with the vocals here. The guy's voice just seems to not fit this kind of music, yet it grows on you after a while. It doesn't sound 100% natural, like they've done something to it. I can't put my finger on it. Musically, this song is very good. It's slower than the last, but almost more choppy. The choppiness is more spred out, if that makes any sense.

3. "U-Boats"- This one starts out with a very cool rewind-like sound that fades into a piano intro. It's a much lighter song starting out. Interesting droning base. The blend of sounds here is quite unique, but it's working. Vocals are what you'd expect by now. About halfway, the heavy kicks in. You can tell in this one that they warble the vocals in some parts. Strong track.

4. "Dragon"- This is by far the heaviest track. It's got chugging guitars everywhere. This makes the vocals seem even more out of place. But again, it starts to sound natural after a couple of listens. Not a huge fan of the tune of this one. Was that a turntable? This one's alright, but not my favorite. It does get a little better at the end, though.

5. "Thin Air"- Three minutes of ambient noise.

A fairly strong first offering overall. Definitely check it out if you like alternative rock. The CD is only six dollars at Amazon, so why not? They have three more tracks floating around, one of which you can listen to on the band's Myspace page along with the songs from this EP. Paul's website has the other two songs as well. The official band website hasn't been updated in many months, so don't bother looking there for anything.

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