Fleshies / Shellshag split EP

FLESHIES and SHELLSHAG have both been at it since the late ’90s, and both prove it’s possible for bands to keep moving forward, trying out new sounds, and continually recalibrating the things they know they do best, rather than resting on their punk laurels. Bands come and go, and there is value in the constant flux of a subculture built on ripping it up and starting again. But sometimes bands stick together and end up with not only the longest tour journal on the planet, but a cumulative consciousness of all the stuff that worked: all the sonic and social experiments that went right. So it’s not too surprising that they’d put together a record that is comfortingly familiar yet also weird and courageously original. The first track enfolds FLESHIES’ new downtempo, heart-wrenching, rock’n’roll anthem inside a cozy wrapping of what sounds like the influence of SHELLSHAG’s signature fuzzed-out dreamscape. The second track, also featured on FLESHIES’ most recent full-length, Introducing the Fleshies, changes gears with a brief but intense blast of unstoppable, furious punk mayhem. SHELLSHAG’s first track offers up a new take on their sound: way more dark and driving, but still incorporating distortion-laden team vocals and infectious melodies. The second track descends into an intense unraveling and re-tangling of all the brainwaves. If SHELLSHAG were a rock, this track would be all the cool, mucky, squirmy stuff living underneath it, and we are the excited five-year-old who can’t resist picking it up.

Fleshies Introducing The Fleshies LP

Yes yes yes! I think you should know that, although I am indeed a huge FLESHIES fan, I came pretty damn late to the party, and I don’t have a proper excuse. Their trademarked loud’n’ugly noise, ramming headfirst and at lightspeed into downright lovely anthemic ballads and a penchant for DEVO-esque quirk and spazz is right up my alley. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great album, but a lot of the precious goof is missing. The sweet, tender quirk-and-jerk just aren’t in full force. I could chalk this up to a bad mix, as not only the drums, but also John’s absolutely killer strained rat vocals are buried pretty damn deep in the mix, or maybe they are just embracing their darker, tougher exterior in these trying times. But all in all, this is an entirely rad slab; I just found myself seriously missing those fucked up tics that sets this stellar band apart from nearly every other loud-ass rock band on the planet.