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What Happened To Your Fire Tiger?


What Happened To Your Fire Tiger?

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This is the debut EP from What Happened To Your Fire Tiger?, a newish local Atlanta act consisting of former members of Parade, Slushco, Pistolero, Aviator, and No Disassemble. Astute readers will remember that EvilSponge has reviewed each of those bands before, which makes WHTYFT a curious band. Sometimes, an act is more than the sum of its parts, so that when one member goes on to a new project, it never captures the glory of their previous act. (Think of Diamond Dave leaving Van Halen. What was he thinking?) Other times, a talented musician can team up with other musicians and create something new and interesting, usually under the term "supergroup". (Remember those first two Asia records -- Heat Of the Moment and Don't Cry? How about The Firm? M/A/R/R/S? This Mortal Coil? Good stuff, really!)

Well, WHTYFT are firmly in the second camp, not the first. This takes four talented musicians and recombines them in a new and interesting way. WHTYFT does not sound exactly like Parade, or Pistolero, or Slushco, or No Disassemble. Instead it takes elements of each of those acts and makes something new from those elements.

The music is dense and complicated, like music made by four people who know what they are doing can be. Not to say that the music is messy or "busy" sounding, instead i mean that it is thick and full. There is a lot going on, but it all seems essential. Brian Slusher (formerly of Slushco) plays a post-punkish kind of guitar, angular and lean with a hint of reggae thrown in. Corey Pallon (formerly of Pistolero) lays down the drums, varying between light and jazzy and dense and thundering, as appropriate. Carrie Hodge (formerly of Parade) plays bass and, of course, sings. The fourth member is Hilary Kelley (formerly of Aviator and No Disassemble), on keyboards and vocals. That's a pretty simple lineup, but the band do a lot with it.

Their debut EP starts off with Wednesday, the intro to which is kind of proggy, with lots of cymbals and the guitar shimmering like it is underwater. And then the female voices come in, so strong and powerful. They are the real stars here: Hodge wailing away while Kelley adds a nice backing bit. The song has a dark feel to it, kind of menacing with the intense drumming and the distorted guitar, but the voices soar over the music. Hodge, in particular, sounds great here. Then again, i would listen to her sing the phone book [BRENDAN'S NOTE: A "phone book" is an old fashioned print form of your contacts file, except it contained a lot of people you had never heard of and didn't know, not even on Facebook.], and i bet she would do an awesome job of that too!

The keys tinkle and Slusher's guitar echoes away at the start of Flare. Kelley sings, her voice more delicate than Hodge, but also less powerful. The song moves along at a slinky pace, and on the chorus Hodge steps up and Slusher plays some old post-punk riffs. The song grows, and in the second part both voices wail as Slusher grinds away while Pallon plays a sparse thudding. It's a good song, but the second half is really good.

Phalanx plays like a jazz song, with brushed drums and a swaying rhythm. Hodge and Kelley share the vocals, trading them back and forth. I think this tune showcases the way their voices work together to great effect.

I Reap. Rise is a fever dream of a song. Keys fly and the guitar grinds while Hodge spits out lyrics. As it grows, the drums grow crazier and the two voices just wail at odds with one another. This song is intense.

On Boom, WHTYFT slow things down. Slusher plays a mournful guitar via e-bow, and Hodge and Kelley harmonize, sounding almost like Azure Ray, which really works for me. On the chorus, Slusher answers the voices with an intensely echoed guitar note that chimes out. This is a lovely tune.

And finally we wrap things up with Secretary, where Pallon really shines. The drumming here is a running beat that drives the song while Slusher plays through a mass of echo. The overall effect sounds trip-hoppish to me, like Portishead or Lamb. The song grows into a nice long rock out, then ends with Hodge and Kelley harmonizing. It's a lovely end to the tune and the EP.

There is a lot going on here, and although they are not reinventing the wheel, they do it all remarkably well. One thing to note is that there is a vague sense of melancholy to the record. It's nothing i can put my fingers on, the EP seems moody and introspective. Still, it's pretty stuff, and i hope to see more from this act.

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