Fairy Bones Shows Off
A Flair For Dramatics
Images by Ben Garcia.
Phoenix-based Synth Punk Four-Piece Will Get Dramatical On Their Debut L.P. With A Listening Party At The Welcome Diner And A Release Party Jan. 31 At Scottsdale’s The Rogue Bar
Images by Ben Garcia.
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 26, 2014 — I really “Like Like” the new Fairy Bones album Dramabot, and I don’t think that joke is ever going to get old. Dramabot, really captures the essence of the downtown Phoenix-based synth punk four-piece.
It’s irresistibly dancy while still terrifically heavy and dark. It also maintains a certain dream pop aesthetic that is tremendously haunting. The first thing that jumps out on the opening song, “Demons and Dogs,” is lead singer Chelsea Richard’s powerful voice singing “hold me up so high I’m bound to fall, I’m the one who scared of being alone,” in her over dramatic almost Muse-esque way. But that’s exactly the point. She’s a Dramabot.
“They kept calling me a Dramabot because I’m dramatic about everything, it was an inside joke that went way too fucking far,” said Richard. “It was a nickname.”
But the nickname quickly grew into a theme, and that theme became Fairy Bones first L.P.
“Dramatic,” is, of course a word that can be interpreted in many ways, but when asked directly what they meant by it, drummer Matthew Foos responded, “the first song on the album encapsulates dramatic.”
Upon first listen, Foos’ words definitely ring true. The music is so dark that it is almost foreboding, but at the same time it is completely poppy.
The second song “You and You Again” is a track that really exemplifies Fairy Bones. It’s another heavy track that utilizes a whole lot of synth, and it’s Richard singing about those relationships that never seem to end no matter how bad the fights get.
There’s something a little dangerous in Richard’s voice on this track and the weird synth sounds throughout bring out another layer of progressive rock that Fairy Bones hasn’t explored quite so heavily in the past.
The album's third track “Waiting” is the first song on Dramabot that has a guitar solo, and it’s really short. Which is pretty exciting. It’s not that Fairy Bones is the first band to go synth heavy. Hell, some bands forgo a guitarist all together. But not many in Phoenix.
Their album has a real New Wave feel to it while still sounding completely modern, and “Waiting” shows those qualities famously. This is also the first appearance of some really dark keyboard playing by the producer of the track, Bob Hoag.
“Slide 2.0” is probably the closest thing on the album to a straight forward rock ‘n roll, and it also features the incomparable Ricky Smash on the saxophone. The song is the first time the musicians in Fairy Bones really get to let loose and own the song as opposed to the first three synth heavy tracks.
It really is just a rock song except for Chelsea’s voice. There is just something too polished about her voice to call it rock ‘n roll, but she still really rocks. It’s own of those genreless tracks that could fit in on a punk compilation or at a dance night.
“Heat on the Lips,” takes the album in a completely different direction than the songs before it. It still goes with the overall theme of drama and most of their songs relies heavily on the synth. But it takes a more upbeat and happy turn. This song definitely errs far more toward dream pop or dance punk than the first part of the album.
“It’s not a concept album,” said Richard.
“I really like the fact that its all over the place, in a good way every song is very unique to itself,” Foos said.
The next track, “Jack” takes on a more alt-rock feel than the songs before it. It’s much more guitar driven than the rest of the album. No matter what Richard does, there is always a poppy quality to her voice. But the instrumentals buy the Foos brothers and Ciuca could just as easily lend itself to a grunge song as it does to this pop/rock song.
Richard said that one of the crazier genre titles for Fairy Bones she had heard in the past was “Zombie Reggae,” and I must assume that the person who said that was refering to the song “Yeah Pretty Yeah,” because it sounds like a super creepy new wavey reggae track. It starts out pretty heavy, but then it switches to those drop beats. The song also features some of the best guitar work on the album.
“Trinkets” goes back to that heavy brooding synth sound from the beginning of the album, and gives Richard another opportunity to show off her pipes. There aren’t a ton of lyrics in the song, but the ones there are she really belts out. There’s also a quite good synth solo right in the middle.
The album takes a more garage-rock sort of turn with the next track, “Butchery,” which once again goes heavier on the guitar than most of the other songs on the album. The combination of Richard’s big operatic voice and the simpler garage rock music is pretty interesting. It’s the sort of pairing that really cannot be ignored. “Butchery” is probably the least Fairy Bones sounding songs on the album, but like the rest of the songs, it is totally dramatic. The fact that it’s so different makes it all the more intriguing.
“Whipping Boy” has been out as a single for quite awhile now, and this song is a little psychedelic, but at the same thing sounds that make it sound psychedelic also make it sound kind of like gospel. There is a really cool organ sound going on in the song and which adds to the religious psychedelia, and a choir of “ooooooooooooo’s” and “ahhhhhhhhhhh’s” during the chorus.
The song “Banshee” is as all over the place as the entire album. Richard is operatic, while the guitars sound almost like surf rock. It’s really thought-provoking music that makes the mind wander toward new and interesting sound combinations. It’s the shortest song on the album at 2:10 and it is also one of the most challenging songs on the record. A voice like hers over that sort of music isn’t a really common pairing, but the over dramatic vocal stylings over the straight forward rock ‘n roll is pretty cool.
Fairy Bones record concludes in as dramatic a fashion as it starts. “Notes from Wonderland” is a really big song. It starts off slow, with a lot of reverb and with that same dark foreboding sound as the beginning of the record. But then it progresses and becomes heavier, and heavier all the way to the point that for about the 1:20 of the track Fairy Bones is playing straight up heavy metal.
The build up to the climax of the album is exquisite with Richard saying over and over “look me in the eyes, tell me this is what you want,” until she is shrieking it. This comes right before the big metal breakdown with heavy drums and a blazing guitar solo. It’s a whole lot of music packed into one song.
“I think for me, personally, it sounds like a national production. It doesn’t sound like we made it in a garage. It sounds like a band's first record and I like that, but it sounds like something people can hold on to,” said Matt Foos about the record.
Fairy Bones will be releasing Dramabot at The Rogue Bar, 423 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, on Jan. 31, because, according to Richard, “The Rogue is home, and we like to feel at home. We would like to do as many things at The Rogue as possible.”
Joining them for the evening will be Gospel Claws and The Burning of Rome.
After the album release, Fairy Bones also intends to release a music video for every song on the album. They also have dates booked for a West Coast tour in the later part of winter heading to New Mexico, Denver, Wyoming, Seattle, and then down the California Coast. They also intend to head to the East Coast in the spring.
The Welcome Diner, 924 E. Roosevelt St. Phoenix, will also host a listening party for Dramabot Jan. 27 at 9 p.m.
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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