Fuzz – II (In The Red)

Fuzz - II (In The Red, 2015)All hail the Fuzz. What happens when you holler as loud as you can? Unless you’re a trained opera singer, your voice distorts. It was inevitable in rock ‘n’ roll that the Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone (FZ-1) pedal and Red Rhodes fuzz box were invented in 1962, so that the guitar could simulate similar heights of emotion, passion, ecstasy and anger. So why would we want to stop? It’s not like screams and shouts will ever go out of fashion — they always have their place. And so does the fuzz. And if a band has to name themselves Fuzz to remind everyone of that, well, let’s just be glad the name was chosen by someone as talented as Ty Segall (on drums and vocals) and his childhood buds Charlie Moothart (guitar) and Chad Ubovich (bass) of the Meatbodies.

On their concise 2013 debut, the band paid homage to Blue Cheer (and their Arbiter Fuzz Face pedal), Black Sabbath (Dallas Arbiter Rangemaster), the Groundhogs and the riff. While it’s a truly collaborative group effort, Moothart and his guitar certainly gets the majority of the spotlight. II is nearly twice as long, with more of pretty much everything – volume, riffs, dynamics, and even some proggy solos. The guitar fuzz still reigns supreme, and is even further up front in the mix than before, though Segall’s voice ably cuts through the mix. His nasally whine at times sounds like what may have happened had John Lennon sang with Sabbath, especially on “Let It Live” and “Say Hello.”  While that’s arguably the entire m.o. of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, this particular sound is pretty unique to Fuzz, though I can’t see how one wouldn’t be fans of both. I love the prog elements stacked on the psychedelia, such as the violin on the latter third of “Let It Live,” the ambitious changes in opener “Time Collapse II/The 7th Terror,” and the extended intro to “Jack The Maggot.”

The band obviously excels at full-tilt boogie rockers like “Rat Race” and “Pipe,” but with their history and pedigree, it’s to be expected, and honestly they could write those in their sleep, and probably have. Heavy psych and proto-metal are well represented styles in recent years, but they present some of the catchiest moments on the album. Yet it’s when they stretch out and explore on “Silent Sits The Dust Bowl” and “II,” when the excitement level goes up, probably because you’re not sure what will happen from one section to the next. This unpredictability keeps things fresh, and looking forward to their tour and the next album. The fuzz is well represented with this band.

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