I work at a preschool and a bar, so I tell a lot of people not to get old. I say it to four-year-olds and twenty-one-year-olds and neither of them really grasp the concept. I used to think it was good advice, this impossible idea of never becoming what we might think of as worse, but Smith doesn't make it sound too bad. And like the band that made it, Fowlmouth, it's their full-length debut and it's already old.
Or young, depending on how you look at it: a batch of demos recorded not long after they had started the band and written the songs. This is probably less "new car smell" and more "first stain that covers up the new car smell."
It might be unfair to bring age into this if it wasn't addressed in one way or another all over the album. Calling a song "(Baby, I'm An) Old Motherfucker" is a blatant example, but the music itself is no less obvious. Their ears have heard a lot of songs. It explains the old country in "Dead Horses" and the Jesus Lizard jam-band-from-hell in "The Christler." Cheap Trick in "She Said" and old blues howling in "Trunk Full of Candy." It goes on and on, so many reference points that, by the time you connect them all, you realize you've drawn a completely different picture. High def, high and deaf. It's all there. Go ahead and check.
If we're talking about what the listener could bring to the table here, there's this: Steve Smith, Fowlmouth guitarist and the man the album is named after, died of complications with diabetes before this was released, before anything else could be recorded in a basement or otherwise.
It's not necessary to know, really, as the music does the heavy lifting for you, but it's a part of the main thread that runs through these songs. A magnet on my mom's fridge would phrase it as "Live every day like it's your last" but Smith says it better. After all, this is it, the original inception of Fowlmouth doing the thing they did in a tiny room all at once because they love it.
And you can tell. They really, really love it. That's something we might want to call a teenage feeling, but I'll be goddamned if it isn't timeless.
- Ryan Werner, August 2, 2014
Ryan Werner is a writer, rocker, and throws tea parties for preschoolers. He is a lover of pro wrestling, porno, and ice cream, and a hater of fingerless gloves, pictures of cats, and goodbyes. You can read more of Ryan's stuff at: www.ryanwernerwritesstuff.com
Recorded as demos in October of 2012 in Kelly Mackay's basement.
This recording is dedicated to the memory of Steve Smith, who passed away in June of 2013.