Music Reviews


The Man on the Burning Tightrope


Firewater rides out of the gate, on this, their fourth release, brandishing enough cynicism, resentment and self-loathing to make even a certifiable curmudgeon like Nick Cave blush with envy. Sounding like Camper Van Beethoven fronted by Charles Bukowski after attending several classes at the Iggy Pop School of Misanthropy, Firewater’s music signifies contempt all balanced by a global palette of sound. The band is quite adept at mixing up their styles from tango inspired romps to gypsy swings and Morricone soundtracks.

The opening salvo, a 22 second drinking song snippet from south of the border, sets the tone. But by the third track, it’s apparent where Firewater’s strengths reside. Sounding an awful lot like Smashmouth’s doppelganger (a la “Walking on the Sun”), Firewater blows through a track lambasting a self-deluded pretender. The track features a fuzzed out wah-wah guitar, trumpets and that retro vibish melody that Smashmouth excels at – here, Firewater pushes it to its limits, puncturing it until it barely holds up anymore. And, in the background, lead singer Tod A just smirks.

“Dark Days Indeed,” one of the best tracks on this disc, is a rollickingly boastful number that swells up under the grooves and Spanish inspired tempos as Tod A rolls off one inspired line after another. Not just any song but a fuckin’ epic, a gargantuan drinking song that could set Zorba the Greek’s feet dancing; a track larger than life, that expands and swallows up everything in its path. Once upon a time, head Pogue Shane McGowan could toss off a track like this between pills and liquor binges. But since he’s MIA, it looks as if Firewater has picked up the crown for drunken debauchery.

On “The Vegas Strip” Firewater grabs the bottle, and along a sinewy, sinuous rhythm dances a Bacchanalian tarantella to the nearest strip bar. The voice you hear is not the better half, nor is it your conscience, but the bourbon soaked voice of good times gone awry. The voice that promises good times, but just as likely will leave you thick tongued in a compromising situation in a seedy hotel room.

All told, Firewater demonstrates again why they are one of the best acts around. With a musical imagination that dwarfs the current crop of frat rock artists and the explosion of garage rock acts, Firewater presents an album that is cinematic in its approach and positively steamrolls over any competitors. Besides, it is one hell of a good drinking album.

Jetset Records:

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