Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze back on Fellowcraft, a Washington DC based rock outfit that I delved into in April of last year. At that point in time, they had two incredibly unique singles that I lauded for their potential: ‘Learning to Love Again’ and ‘Long Gone.’ Now, they’ve got a full record chock-full of all that rocky goodness I loved about the first two tunes. Let’s talk about ‘Get Up Young Phoenix.’
It’s worth noting at the top of this piece that the album debuted on Jan 3, but may not yet distributed to every digital platform. If it isn’t where you typically find music, wait it out, it’ll be there by the end of February at the latest. That’s because the outfit released ‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ via CD Baby. That’s important, because it tells us one obvious thing: they’re still entirely independent and working without a label or distribution deal. That makes ‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ dramatically more interesting, because it’s very well produced.
‘Get Up Young Phoenix,’ the title and opening track of the record, is bluesy, rock wonderfulness jam packed into a succinct, exceptionally soulful package. I love the fuzzy distortion and raspy, intense vocals. It’s absolutely spectacular and sets the bar high for the rest of the album. Fortunately, the band delivers an eclectic offering soon after, such as the moody, more mellow ‘Glass Houses.’ “You steal my beating heart and you crack my bones,” the lead vocals croon over an emotionally heavy track. Disclaimer: I’m writing this track two days after a pretty serious romantic breakup. Thus, ‘Glass Houses’ hit me right in the feelings. That’s very good; it means Fellowcraft’s lyricism has meaning to it and can harness emotions, even if they aren’t ones you’d like to bury.
‘West Texas Blues’ commits to the blues style that the titular track toys with. This is straight up rock and roll blues: think very early Black Keys. With distortion, pumping percussion, and scratchy, equally-distorted vocals, ‘West Texas Blues’ is one of the finest exhibitions of blues I’ve heard in the independent scene in quite some time. Plus, it has a bass solo. Enough said. The following track, ‘Long Gone,’ was a tune I discussed last year. It’s still as excellent as it was then, stretching Fellowcraft’s instrumental borders will prowess.
‘A Thousand Sunsets’ has as introspective lyrics as the track’s title suggests. It’s a love track that feels optimistic, looking forward to a thousand sunsets, rather than the days behind where stones were hurdled at glass houses of emotion. It’s a welcome shift in mentality, one that comes perfectly before the mid-album overture, ‘The Dying of the Light.’ This atmospheric, swooning instrumental sets a perfect stage for the following track, which is the full ‘The Dying of the Light.’ The track explodes out of its overture, feeling a tad more experimental than the other tracks. (Perhaps not ‘experimental,’ but it definitely pushes the boundaries of Fellowcraft’s established sound.) It’s an excellent track, harnessing a Dylan Thomas line for its central purpose: do not go gentle into that good night.
‘Learning To Love Again’ continues the revolving of the emotional revolution kicked off by ‘Glass Houses’ on the second track. It’s a track many can relate to after a hardship or relationship: you don’t just bounce back. You have to learn to love and trust again. ‘Wedding Song’ seemingly rounds out this evolution, acting as both a declaration of love and a request for reciprocation. Again, Fellowcraft’s kicked me in the emotional balls since I just had a break-up on Friday. But hey, that means it’s damn good music. If it was cheesy or poorly executed, it wouldn’t do that to someone like me. ‘I Want It All’ and ‘The Last Great Scotsman’ finish it out wonderfully, though I do wonder if they would have been better elsewhere on the album, closing with ‘Wedding Song’ instead.
‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ is a genuinely amazing independent rock album. As Fellowcraft’s full length studio debut, it’s even more impressive. Check it out below and follow them on social networking for updates on their musings. They have a newsletter on their site that’s worth subscribing to as well if their music clicks with you.