80/20 records | five stars
From Alice Cooper to the Gin Blossoms and Jimmy Eat World to Nate Reuss of fun, Arizona’s “local music” has a funny habit of becoming globally huge. You might want to keep that in mind while listening to Fairy Bones’ glorious full-length debut, Dramabot.
The thundering opener, “Demons and Dogs,” sets the tone early. Lead singer Chelsey Louise rolls from a soaring banshee wail to a guttural rock and roll growl that’s practically demanding to be heard in stadiums. It’s a declaration of intent, and you’d better take notice. “You And You Again” doubles down with a sucker-punch jolt. Matthew Foos’ drumming will knock your fillings out, while Ben Foos’ inventive, spot-on bass lines pound out the rhythm. Robert Ciuca’s guitar sparks like an arc-welder. It would take guys this good, and this anarchic, to keep up with Louise.
Produced by dapper sonic wonderboy Bob Hoag at his soon-to-be legendary Flying Blanket studio (The Ataris, The Format, etc.), Dramabot has the analog fullness and resonance that is Hoag’s bread and butter. It belongs on vinyl. Hoag also does a great job of capturing the intensity of their amazing live shows.
“Waiting” is a particular highlight, with a gorgeous melody and one of Louise’s finest vocal performances. Hoag’s production shines, with layers of swirling keys (is that a Moog or an ARP?) and an almost disco giddiness that ends with a huge smile. “Jack” sells the drama with rock ballad swagger and a jagged, Cobain-esque guitar riff. Indeed, parts of Dramabot definitely have a Seattle-circa-1991 feel, coupled with an Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power vibe that is straight out of the ‘70s.
And yet there’s nobody like Louise. Her volcanic vocal explodes on “Yeah Pretty Yeah” and the aptly named “Banshee,” while the album closer, “Notes From Wonderland,” blasts and crashes like mountains coming down. It’s another winner from 80/20 records. With an album this powerful, we’re gonna have a hard time keeping these guys in town.