Ferocious Bubbles are a new (and, i might add, awesomely named) indie rock band from Birmingham, AL. I first discovered them back in May, when they played at Lenny's and guitarist Nick Punch (formerly of Crane
Orchard and Audomobil) gave me a copy of this CD. It's been in and out of my player all summer. This is a nice, catchy album.
On the record, Ferocious Bubbles were a 4-piece band. Punch was added
later to beef up their guitariness, i guess. Anyway, the mastermind of the
band in one Pete Szelenbaum. He is the vocalist and, if i am reading the liner
notes correctly, principle songwriter. He does a fine job, churning out lyrics
that are witty enough without being overly pretentious. That is to say, even
though the words are worth listening to, they are obviously not the only point
of the record. Contrast this with some records i listen to, wherein i think
that in another era the musician would have just cranked out a book of poetry...
I am sure you know what i'm talking about: that sort of stuff where the actual
music seems to be an afterthought to the clever wordplay. I guess that some
people like that, but if i am listening to a band, i expect all of the pieces
to fit together, and for none to be overly dominant. I guess that what i am
getting at here is that Ferocious Bubbles have a sense of balance.
Szelenbaum has a nice voice too. It's understated, but clear. It comes across as somewhat innocent. And, indeed, there is a certain joie de vivre to the album that reminds EvilSponge (well, specifically Tracers and myself) of Neutral Milk Hotel. Some sort of goofy happiness is shared by both bands, and it makes the whole thing all that much more enjoyable. I also think that the drumming of Randall "Pan-Pan" Shurbet must be mentioned. He does a wonderful job of keeping the proceedings going, and is able to provide subtle accompaniment where required (Saint Jude) and to beat the tar out of his kit when necessary (Airport). The other band members do a fine job as well.
Anyway, several of the tunes are here are just great. Airport kicks off the album with a whirl of guitar, some distortion, and a catchy (and increasingly frantic) drum beat. This fades into Blood, which is driven by a deep bass riff, and hard staccato drum hits. This reminds me of some of the music of The
Death Ray Davies. Skywaves moves at a martial beat with droning slide guitar and distorted voice. It's a vaguely mournful song, and is just fun.
Saint Jude is a slow, soft song featuring mostly guitar and heavily distorted voice. It has a real lo-fi feel to it, and is rather pretty. This is one of the several songs on the album wherein Szelenbaum sings about "hope". He keeps coming back to this one feeling. I suppose it is the thematic element that ties the album together. Or, perhaps, he is just obsessed with the concept. (Who can blame him, given the current state of the world?) Or perhaps he just needs to cheer up? I can't say, but on repeated listens i kept noticing this word jump out at me. Interesting. I wonder what it all means?
Finally, i would like to mention Moons After Moons. This is a short song, but it features a fuzzy guitar bit that seems to have come from an early Dinosaur,
Jr. record. It is the most new wavey tune on the album, and is a thoroughly enjoyable romp.
Overall, this is a fun record. Fans of the indie rock genre would do well to give this a listen, or to check out the band if they happen to play nearby. I think that the record also shows that Ferocious Bubbles have a lot of promise, and have rather a lot to offer as a band. After seeing them perform three times since this album came out, i think that the band has continued to grow. I look forward to hearing what they do next.