Release Date: Jan 18, 2011
Record label: Hardly Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock
Fergus & Geronimo take their name from the rival youth factions in the 1994 Irish film War of the Buttons. It's a choice of nomenclature that fits indie's recent obsession with childhood and nostalgia, as does the album cover art. Yet when you open the CD edition of Unlearn, you're greeted with the following message printed on the disc: "You still buy CDs?" That arch, slightly confrontational humor extended to their performance at the 2010 CMJ showcase hosted by fellow Texan, blogger Gorilla vs.
Fergus & Geronimo's debut is a weird one to be sure. For their first full-length, Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage take inspiration from early Mothers of Invention-era Frank Zappa, specifically the doo wop and ‘60s psych of We’re Only in It for the Money, and perform it in the slovenly indie rock vibe of the duo's lo-fi Woodsist and Hardly Art peers. Somehow, these clashing styles work well, as do the lapses into ramshackle ‘60s garage rock.
Fergus & Geronimo, made up chiefly of duo Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly, are pop imposters. After scattering singles across various labels, Hardly Art has put out their first full-length, Unlearn, which is in itself a scattershot cross-section of pop music. What they achieve here, constantly catching their listener off-guard by changing tempo, texture, feel, and (often) musical genre, is no easy feat.
Fergus & Geronimo started as the project of two guys in Denton — Andrew Savage (Teenage Cool Kids) and Jason Kelly (Wax Museums). They released some amazing singles: “Harder Than It’s Ever Been”, “Powerful Lovin’”, and “Tell It In My Ear” promised a ‘60s soul vibe, while “Girls With English Accents” had flourishes of sitar psych. The duality in their music is easy to pinpoint; they’ve said before that they write their music separately, not together, and then collaborate on each song in the studio.
Deerhoof This endearingly odd post-punk band has always made the most of incongruity, framing the girly-sweet singing of its bassist, Satomi Matsuzaki, against a crashing cacophony of guitar riffs and the slipperiest sort of rock drumming. “Deerhoof vs. Evil,” being released on Polyvinyl on Tuesday, adheres to this formula without succumbing to it; the album feels disarmingly unspoiled.
Unlearn, Fergus And Geronimo’s debut full-length on the Seattle-based Sub Pop spin off Hardly Art, doesn’t run as a particularly cohesive record. Instead it skips like an excited young band stretching its muscles, still deciding which direction will make their dreams come true. Some of its tracks are British invasion riff heavy with a little rhythm and blues, some get the organ tuned up and others dabble in jam band zone.
From scene-sucker report ("Wanna Know What I Would Do?") to closing title track, this Denton, Texas-bred duo is heavy on ideas and opinions – right down to its actual CD, which questions why you still buy CDs. Pranksters Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly pull out threads of the sweater throughout, with "Unlearn" the centerpiece, an anti-establishment screed masked as 1960s doo-wah-diddy. Is the monotone "1-2-3" count-off on opener "Girls With English Accents" a nod to the Modern Lovers? F&G has obvious influences, and early 1990s ode "Michael Kelly" puts them in a hat and asks you to pick.