Aug 11, 2009

Fred Schneider. Just... Fred.

This is one of those weird little lost gems that most people wouldn't think of tracking down even if they knew it existed. Which is too bad, because it's the best thing Fred Schneider's been involved with in his entire career.

Fred sounds astonishingly reinvigorated, lashing each song into a frenzy he hasn't mustered since Rock Lobster. Everything here roars to life like the band just discovered the perfect new sound and are just barely holding on to the songs as they fly out of their instruments. Of course, there actually isn't anything new about the sound—his backing band brings elements of each of their respective groups to the project (Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Six Finger Satellite, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), and nothing sounds too out of place from the early 90's alterna-scene—but their devotion to it, and the amount of fun they're clearly having elevate the entire album to near perfect, rock-candy goodness.

Nearly all the songs are dripping with hooks, and Fred's lyrics are better than anything he'd put on the last decade's worth of The B-52's albums. You'd think the crashing guitars and stomping drums would overwhelm him, but he just surfs on top of it all sounding like it's where he was always meant to be. Of course, you can't help but laugh while listening to this record, but never in a derisive way. You're laughing in astonishment, hearing someone try something they should completely fail at, but actually manage to pull off in spades. Half the fun of the record is the feeling that none of it should work—that the next time you spin it they won't be able sustain the energy, that they'll trip over something and fall on their collective ass—but every time they triumphantly come screeching sideways across the finish line with the wheels falling off and sparks flying.

Best moments:

Whip - "Blunt weapon in a cloud of desire / Velvet hammer in a sheath of lies"..."Your kiss is a whip!"

Bulldozer - The short, ripping, almost Queen-like guitar solo right in the middle. This should have been a hit.


Just Fred

Fred on myspace

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