“Sweet Jesus” I thought to myself, not another New York band, with more hype than hip, selling a jaded new-wave pastiche in the wake of devils incarnate “The Strokes”. Life is too short.
But what I got was an eclectic, imaginative clash between American Rock and European gypsy music, via Vaudeville, Tango, Strip-show tunes. Hallelujah, there is a God!
There’s all sorts of influences in the mix here – I can hear bits of Tom Waits, Vinicio Capossela, The Stones, and even Tool (though I may be stretching there!). But what makes Firewater an interesting proposition is that while you can definitely hear the influences, they take them by the scruff of the neck and drag them somewhere different. At the back of everything there’s a song, and a beat breaking out – so while there’s experimentation a plenty, there’s a pop/rock sensibility that keeps everything on track.
Or almost always – there’s a concept buried somewhere in the lyrics, which is always going to be a bad sign. Tod A. claims in relation to irony “I’m sick to death of Irony. I mean f*ck , if you don’t mean it why bother doing it all”, but frankly ,unless there’s some hidden irony in it, we really could do without songs like “The song that saved my life” – which is the surest contender on the album to drive the listener the opposite way, to drink and distraction.
The highlights though are worth their weight in gold – “Dark days indeed” and “Anything at all” being my personal recommendations for this month to innocent bystanders on the street.
When asked if “The Man on the Burning Tightrope” was a metaphor for George Bush, Tod. A. responded:
“That would be telling. I can identify with George Bush to an extent: I was lousy at school, plus I’ve had my problems with alcohol and the law, but that’s where the similarities end. Number one, I’m not an Ignorant xenophobe, and I was eventually able to nail down a basic grasp of English. I’m a person who would happily trade a few blow jobs in the White House for a country which is not perpetually at war, in debt, and reviled by the rest of the world” – Don’t hold back there.. Maybe that concept idea isn’t so bad after all!