Fat White Family – Champagne Holocaust
These guys were one of the big hits of SXSW this year, and repeated the feat at The Great Escape in Brighton last week. The internet buzz surrounding the release is what those of us with access to a thesaurus and too much time on our hands might call palpable, and the only reason you haven’t read about them on this website before now is that I am disorganised and easily distracted.
I don’t know about changing the world, and they’re too retro-inspired to really change music, but even with my naturally contrarian reaction to any kind of buzz I would admit that these guys really are very, very good. I’ve seen their front man being compared to Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten, and a friend said that they were the first band he’d seen in ages that felt just a little bit dangerous.
Those comparisons are a bit too lofty for my taste, although they are stylistically accurate enough. Nevertheless, the excitement does call to mind Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip reminding us that ‘The next big thing? Just a band.”
Fat White Family may be just a band, but at this point it looks like they really are a very, very good band. In Brighton last week they were awesome: feral, snarling, and yet tight as fuck. They’d descend into mess, but collectively pull the songs back into perfectly-executed riffage with precision and control, and that teetering, strutting front man of theirs? Well I am sure enough has been said about him already, but he was both as intense and as excellent as everyone else has already told you.
But, having said that, by comparison to the live shows the album just feels a little bit tame, to be honest. It’s all good – the sprawling garage-psychedelia is perfectly intact and when it comes on a playlist in the midst of other stuff being released today it actually sounds brilliant – the rhythmic circulation of guitar riffs and choruses is almost animalistic, in the sense that it swirls around like a flock of malevolent birds, always in a different shape, sometimes appearing to have dissipated altogether and then suddenly swoops back towards you with an unsettling sense of purpose.
The thing is, whilst on the album this is ‘really good’, on stage it’s ‘absolutely fucking great’ and I can’t quite shake that aspect out of my head. In some senses, of course, it’s a good thing. I am always quick to criticise a band who treat an album like a live set and just batter out the floor-fillers for half an hour, so slightly less beefy tunes like Who Shot Lee Oswald and the slower, more moody pace of Cream of the Young give the album really good variation. I suppose it’s just that when the band want to really ramp it up and slap you in the face, nothing a rotating piece of black plastic can do can really match a sweaty, shirtless man snarling in your face and possibly just about show you his penis.
So it’s really good, this, and as I said it stands out as excellent when mixed in with pretty much all the stuff I’m listening to at the moment, particularly if it comes on a shuffled playlist, but go see this band live if you can. And hope the weird, thrilling confrontationalism doesn’t ever lead them into Oasis territory.
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