It’s always funny to hear a record, come to your own conclusion (figuring the young kidz of the day will embrace it in an entirely different way), and realize even someone as young as 25 can pinpoint the origins of said record. That’s what’s happened over the last few months with Bad History Month, the latest album from Fat History Month (disclosure: at one point, when I thought I wanted to run a record label, I approached FHM about putting out a tape, and they said “sure!” but it never happened because it’s not my Time). I assumed the youthful wouldn’t know a thing about old Modest Mouse and Duster records, yet just about every round-up I’ve read on this thing mentions 90s indie-rock with an emphasis on guitar buildups, tom-tom pounds that lurch in a certain deliberate way, and lyrics that speak of Cowboys and shakin’ hands with the devil (or execs with teeth like god’s shoeshine).
So where do I fit into all of this? Why the fuck am I even here? Well, for one, because they sent me a beautiful 12-inch slab of wax to review, but more importantly, I believe in this band and what they represent in the age of EDM (you’re expecting me to rip into the genre; not gonna fall for that one). In fact, it’s only inevitable that soon Fat History Month and bands that sound like them will soon overtake Synth Sinai/Mini-Korg Mountain/Trap Towers with the same ferocity The White Stripes did whenever all that shit happened (I blocked most of that out). That FHM inhabit the lonesome crowded west with such aplomb, of course, is good news for everyone, really. I get a break from reviewing the more experimental, “bearded” stuff, and the kidz out there get to see people play string/percussive instruments as I suspect god maybe intended in the first place.
It’s all for naught without the songs to pay the bounty, of course, and Bad History Month carries plenty of them in its saddlebags. “Couch Killed the Cowboy” is my fave, partly because of its herky-jerky fits mixed with sedate sections, partly because it’s tortuously brief (as are many of the best songs here), all slow guitarpeggios and more of that swell Jeremiah Green-in-his-prime drumming. I’ll admit I don’t know what the lyrics represent on a grander scale, yet that’s part of the charm. And when I do get it, I really, really fucking get it; case in point: “The only things that are worth doing always take so long that before you’re even done, they start to seem completely worthless.” Much obliged, Jeff Meff. Furthermore, when Mr. Meff sings, he hits this soft spot just between whining, imploring, philosophizing, and resigning one’s self, occasionally giving way to bouts of rage that again recall Brock at his biggest/baddest. I’m not sure how he could possibly croon in a live setting the way he does on his albums — sounds kind of close-mic’d to me; thoughts? — but it’s definitely heaven in the studio.
With a split with My Dad already in the works, Fat History Month and the public at large already have shifted their attention off this album (not to mention Fucking Despair, another solid, often-great, record), and that is folly. See that you acquire this one so that you may be on the right side of history when the wave hits and all the samplers get waterlogged.