The Fed Pennies – [Album]

Thursday, 01 April 2010

Ever get the feeling that you're listening to history repeat but the promise and prospect of that is wildly exciting? Listening to Brain Disaster by The Fed Pennies is like that; from the opening wobbly and scruffy but thick salvo of “Buzzing In My Head,” listeners can't help but wonder if the feeling they're beginning to get – a sort of mix of adrenaline and dismissive anger – is the same one folks got the first time they heard Superfuzz Bigmuff by Mudhoney twenty years ago.

To be clear, Brain Disaster is not an old record – depending upon where you live, it came out in late 2009 or early 2010, in fact – but it instantly recalls the dawn of the grunge; before it was called “grunge,” in fact. And it feels really, really good.

From the opening blitzkrieg of “Buzzing In My Head,” The Fed Pennies easily and genuinely cast images of early Seattle into the minds of listeners; with post-punk guitars  that either lope or pounce (there is no mid-point), sludgy bass and very dry but propulsive drums, the band launches itself into squalid and desperate places with no clear direction in mind other than that, wherever they're headed, they're a little annoyed at the path. Singer/guitarist Jake Smith has the exact same brand of charisma that Mark Arm did and the upside to that is the boredom and anger he offers to listeners is equally infectious; in songs like “Please Kill Me,” “Going Nowhere,” “Down The Drain” and “Air Guitar,” listeners will find themselves wanting to scream along sporting a defiant sneer. Smith banks off of his own walls of guitar as well as the clunking bass provided by John Matthews before getting a series of sucker punches delivered to him by Tom Spence's Matt Cameron-inspired drum kit, thereby causing the singer to be even further incensed and dismissive as the songs pass by. It doesn't sound like it should be so captivating in print (neither did Mudhoney, and disciples Queens Of The Stone Age still don't), but it will get you if you hear it, and not let go.

Appended to the record after “Leather Coat” sputters and collapses from exhaustion, The Fed Pennies' acoustic EP sort of trails and meanders in circles like a lost rain dog, but does have its own unique charms. “Cold Black Chains” recalls the smacked out stomp of Alice In Chains circa Sap before “As Far As I Can See” coats both the band and listeners with a thick layer of pathetic fallacy and comes completely undone on “To Your Senses.” Between each finished track, snippets of found audio trail across the scene going nowhere before they evaporate and thus add another angle to the rough-hewn squalor of the proceedings; it's just dark and miserable and going exactly nowhere. In the end, what listeners have in Brain Disaster is a terribly poignant enactment of hollow desperation that has had the courage to be pissed off, and it works for The Fed Pennies. Listeners will be sucked down into the emotional depths with the band and get spat unceremoniously back out feeling as if they've just had every good feeling in them sucked out; they'll be the first one in line when The Fed Pennies return though, in addition to being angry and desperation, Brain Disaster also has the benefit of being addictive.



The Fed Pennies – "Buzzing In My Head" – Brain Disaster (bonus)


Brain Disaster (bonus)
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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