by Rob Offerman
My initial reaction to the first track, "Purple," was wondering if this was R.E.M. meets Stone Temple Pilots. How foolish of me to so hastily put up my guard. As I listened beyond the first ten seconds, I became very comfortable with the notes ringing in my ears. The vocals were controlled and evoking over the somewhat plinky rhythm riff. Good, clean breaks and a hip little "goober peas" ending held my attention.
I found "Cling" to be a little too familiar, but "Wish" with it's flowing rhythm and diversified effects was a tasty little kibble. Track No. 4, "Nothing," was anything but that. The smooth harmonies are a tribute to lead singer Bob Guiney's vocal prowess and lyrical ability.
By now I was interested for real and was delighted to be scratched behind the ears by the more original sounding "Chlorine." It's a thick and meaty grind, building slowly in lyrical finesse and culminating in an intricate yet never overpowering guitar solo that is a much greater tribute to guitarist Mark Meyers than I may have given him credit for. Meyers' flash-and-dash on the guitar is reminiscent of '80s guitar heroes. The way he sticks religiously to the song until his solos erupt in a burst of blistering incandescence really makes his axework stand out.
As I wound into the funky, bass-driven "Swollen," I started feeling a slight sense of repetition, but the track remained collected and consistent with the rest of the album. Bassist Brent Gillespie and drummer Brad Trimas are solid on this on this song, as they are throughout the album.
Meyers moved into another notable solo in the ever-so-coolly-titled "Hoopyjack," a track that I felt matched any of the stuff they try and dangle at us on the so-called "modern radio" stations.
I got a little sleepy during "Point," which is what I was missing by the end of the song.
The real winner in the solid disc was the last track, entitled "Left Unsaid." It was heavy, driving, loud and rambunctious. My head flippin' around, I envisioned glaring, colored lights, feedback and sweaty musicians -- everything that is sacred and holy to star wannabes everywhere in the world. The only drawback to this song is its drawn-out, overkilled ending. If the song just ended, I can imagine it would be the first choice for a radio cut -- it's that good. The song blew me away and if it's any indication of the talent and direction of this band, we can expect to hear big things from Fat Amy in the very near future.
Overall, this is a solid product. The cover jacket is inviting, the mixing is well done, and the co-arrangements with producer Jon Frazer were definitely a wise decision by the band members.
The drawback to this album was a lack of diversity in rhythm, tempo, and sound. It sounded like the Fat Amy crew had to knock this album out in a week or less and didn't have time to mess with sound textures. While recording quality didn't suffer a bit and the songs are solid, without the breaks between songs you'd have a tough time telling some of them apart.
With a little more rhythmic diversity, some variations in tempo that maturity will bring, and a few notes in either direction added to Guiney's voice, these guys are outta here.
Fat Amy performed at the 1995 TicketMaster Showcase Saturday, Aug. 26 at the Small Planet in Lansing. The showcase is a stepping stone for many acts en route to national exposure. Verve Pipe won the regional showcase in 1994, then moved on to win the national competition. Verve Pipe signed a deal with RCA Records earlier this year.