Release Date: Jun 23, 2015
Record label: Transgressive
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
For six years, Lethbridge, Alberta-based art-punkers Fist City have been cultivating a sound that is equally defiant and joyful, sophisticated and filthy. On their sophomore record, Everything is a Mess, the band traveled to Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio in Chicago to record with the Men's Ben Greenberg.Greenberg has wisely done little to alter the band's style — each song is spangling and jittery, abound with post-punk panache and buoyed by the rough, swaggering and beautifully vulnerable warble of lead singer Kier Griffiths. The songs feel like they're structured in a poppier way than previous releases, with the strongest elements (beyond Griffiths' inimitable vox) brought front and centre.
Fist City live up to their name on their third album, Everything Is a Mess -- the album title, too. The Canadian quartet rips through the 11 songs (and six interludes), most of them like a ragged punch in the face, all of them scrappy and loose with the band holding on for dear life. The guitars are reverb-heavy and distorted, while still being light and stinging.
Fist City didn’t click for me right away. And even once they did, I’m still not convinced they’re a great band, but I’m willing to concede that they are at least a good one, although this isn’t quite a good record. Everything Is a Mess is a punk album, recorded in 2014 and released in 2015, that sounds like it was recorded and released in about 1985.
People will call this album a shambolic punk record, but the truth is Fist City’s Everything Is A Mess isn’t anything of the sort, despite what its name might suggest. It’s abrasive, sure, it’s chaotic, but this is so on-point, so clear, it’s among the most concise alternative guitar records of the past few years. There’s no polaroids taken with this, half washy ideas of surf-pop, ran through a filter for an irrelevant blogosphere.
When you can decipher the vocals on Fist City’s new album, it’s clear some really provocative ideas are being discussed. The chorus of Fuck Cops, for instance, seems to be “I’ll argue with you / I’ll call you names / I’ll call you a racist pig.” It’s like we’re hearing a field recording of a chaotic fight and, as the song unfolds, it gets easier to pick a side. Fist City, from Lethbridge, Alberta, are one of the best live bands of their generation.
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