Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Father Figures' "Heavy Lifting" and The Feederz' "WWHD - What Would Hitler Do?" EP

Coincidentally, the package from Slope Records arrived the same day I read an article about George Lakoff, a retired UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science and linguistics who argues that voters make decisions based on subconscious worldviews, centered around beliefs about the family, rather than facts. According to Lakoff, conservatives believe in the "strict father family," where father holds the reins and has the right to punish his spouse or children when they disobey him, while liberals believe in the "nurturant family," where both parents collaborate to nurture children and encourage them to nurture others, including the weak and marginalized.

I'm sure Lakoff's theories have nothing to do with how the Father Figures chose their band name, but the songs on their new LP, Heavy Lifting -- their fourth release -- fulminate with anger at the state of TrumpAmerica. The album comes in a sleeve that includes complete lyrics -- frustratingly printed in a font that, while aesthetically pleasing, is as challenging to the eye as the ones on CD slicks. No matter; repeated spins of the rec will give you time to peruse 'em at leisure.

Besides, bassist-scribe Tom Reardon declaims his words forcefully, and his vocals are mixed high enough to be clearly audible. His lyrics reveal a sensibility as intentionally clear-eyed ("The trick I think is to never blink / And you have to know," he sings in "Ego vs Ego") as it is enraged, whether decrying the various narcotics we use to give ourselves the illusion of control ("Medicine Ball"), reporting on America's devastation from within ("USS Destroyer"), or roaring an Everyman's frustration with a deck that's stacked against him ("Rigged").

Instrumentally, Reardon locks his four-string thunder in with drummer Bobby Lerma's agile stickwork to create a pummeling, elastic groove, over which guitarist Michael Cornelius floats tense chords and jagged shards of melody. The Father Figures' most clearly audible influence is the Minutemen, and they wear it proudly, tipping their hat with lyrics like "It's everything / It's all my dreams / In '85 / I felt alive" ("Borrowed Records") and the shout-out to the corndog trio's hometown in "Hotel San Pedro."

Closer to home, the musos in the Father Figures had formative Phoenix influences like the Meat Puppets, the Consumers, the Exterminators, and the Feederz, who have a new Slope seven-inch, produced by Meat Puppet Cris Kirkwood, with a full-length due this summer. On WWHD - What Would Hitler Do?, the Feederz -- who started out purveying their brand of surrealist agit-punk in biker bars -- fire a couple of improbably catchy salvos in the form of self-explanatory paeans to "Stealing" and "Sabotage." Frontman Frank Discussion sounds for all the world like a gremlin Marc Bolan, while Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro keeps things jumping. Bracing stuff.


Blogger Phnart said...

Hey there. Thanks so much for the kind words and I'm glad you dug it. Much appreciated.

The Father Figures

6:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home