Kanine Records, 2013.
Fear of Men: http://kaninerecords.com/fear-of-men
This whole music adventure began as an art school project for Jessica Weiss. When Daniel Falvey saw some of her ambient track and short film projects, his attention was caught and a friendship began. The two swapped mix tapes for a while, and eventually Fear of Men was created. More pop-influenced than their inspirational groups (The Chills, The Byrds, and Grouper, to name a few), Fear of Men caught even more attention after adding Michael Miles and Robyn Edwards. The quartet has been playing live shows and recording since then.
Fear of Men takes DIY music a step beyond what we typically see. Whatever the reason, this unconventional approach is intriguing as a concept. Beginning with four track recordings, and progressing to vinyl (my personal favorite musical recording format), cassette pressings, and then independent labels, Fear of Men is old school style with innovative sound. Coming off of a day at the Cleveland Museum of Art and their exhibit on Vesuvius makes Early Fragments especially hard hitting for a former Latin student and lover of ancient history. The album pulls in imagery of museums and icons for their artwork, speaks of solitude and isolation, and has an endearing Brit-pop quality to boot. The more melancholy and cultured sound than Lily Allen is endearing and calmly moderating; the album is a great background for writing or other high-mental-energy activities. The juxtaposition of old and new begs a reconsideration of long held ideas and a new look at what’s in front of you.
Seer has gorgeous drums backing repetitive lyrics and haunting vocalizations. Mosaic has more prominent guitar sounds, and samples what sounds like a television or film piece, but that portion is hard to pull out to the foreground. Your Side has a throbbing bass line, with silver cymbal highlights and major key guitar strums. There’s a shift to less high notes and a slightly lower pitch in Green Sea, but has a resonating message of hope. And I’ll be tarred and feathered if there isn’t a TARDIS sound in the background. I can’t help but compare Born in Fear to Paul Simon’s Born at the Right Time, not because of the content but because of the generational connections. Paul Simon speaks of the hope he has for the next generation, while Fear of Men (possibly the generation of which Simon spoke in his song) speaks of fear and trepidation. It’s a great reminder of the different perspectives one can take based on their personal experience. Doldrums has a bright sound, but heavy lyrics of destruction. Ritual Confession begins vaguely reminiscent of an eighties sound, and includes my favorite Sartre quote “Hell is other people” with a pure and sweet vocalist. Finishing up the album is Spirit House and the finish is strong. The accompanying background vocals blend for a ghost-like quality over the very grounded instrumental arrangement and technically perfect percussion.
Personnel: Jessica Weiss (vocals, guitar), Daniel Falvey (guitar), Michael Miles (drums), and Robyn Edwards (bass)
Tracks: Seer, Mosaic, Your Side, Green Sea, Born, Doldrums, Ritual Confession, Spirit House