The Hatchet looks at Fang Island’s debut and reviews The Extraordinaires’ MACRoCk set:
The Extraordinaires at MACRoCk
This past weekend, just two hours south of D.C., 50-some bands took Harrisonburg, Va. by storm for The Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference, better known as MACRoCk. The gathering, though, offered little on conference and lots on music and cheap beer. And while every band absolutely rocked, one in particular stood out: The Extraordinaires.
This highly theatrical Philly-based band played an intense MACRoCk set high on energy, fun and skill. Even cynical hipsters couldn’t stop themselves from moving to the grooves, which offered something for everyone. The group’s influences seem to range from punk roll and indie folk to ska and good old rock and roll.
The lead guitarist tore up Hendrix-like solos, often on his knees and with his guitar behind his face. The place couldn’t help but go wild while this young, dorky-looking kid whipped out incredible riffs. Coupled with such a performance was frontman Jay Purdy, who sported spiky, anime-like hair while shouting and singing lyrics about Christopher Columbus and even neighborhood watch clubs. (“Are they really watching me? Or did they buy a shiny blue sign to scare me off?”)
In reality, these guys don’t sound nearly as hot on their MySpace page, and that sucks for anyone hoping for a recreation of the experience online. But they put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen in the D.C. area, and that’s what makes them so noteworthy. Moral of the story? Get out and see more shows, even if the band is an unknown. You just might be pleasantly surprised.
“Fang Island” (Fang Island)
There are foretelling album-openers, and then there are the fireworks that begin Fang Island’s self-titled debut album.
Before so much as a note has been played, the popping, sonic visual confirms all the common terms that litter what’s being written about the band. (Comparisons: the Go! Team meets Andrew W.K. The band’s own self-described sound: “everyone high-fiving everyone.”)
And by the time you make it to the album’s third track – an adventure of a pseudo-single called “Daisy” – you’ve probably got a firm grip on what these SXSW darlings have to offer: uplifting prog-rock with electro organs, sparse vocals and an unrelenting energy that wants to smack you through the speakers and tell you to wake up and live.
Still, each proceeding track is anything but redundant. “Fang Island” is more like a rollercoaster: You may have a feel for how the layered choruses build to drop you into the rushing winds of wandering, scrambled guitars, but it’s still one hell of a 31-minute ride.
Even when the album goes through its prolonged, yet still energetic lull, which happens in the first two minutes of “Davey Crockett,” it’s only to set up a ripping guitar solo over crashing cymbals that ends with a soothing group chant of the famed frontiersman’s name. As the hard-hitting percussion builds to include a series of drum rolls ending in a stomp and a clap, it’s hard not to join in. This is an album worthy of applause.