“I’m so fucking cheap/I’m so fucking broke/and I don’t have a job and a I don’t have a phone/ I don’t have a life/and I’m always stoned”
What does it mean to be punk in southern California in this day and age? It’s always sunny, next to a ridiculously blue ocean, yet you are also constantly interacting with the the golden idols of the entertainment industry, the streets are full of beautiful people all clawing to get a piece of a pie that is reserved for a select few. Living in Los Angeles you can be surrounded by beauty that is easy to hate. From this comes FIDLAR, four young dudes (Elvis Kuehn, brother Max Kuehn, Zac Carper, and Brandon Schwartzel) in a band that is as much surf punk as it is sixties garage rock. Think of what would happen if the TROGGS had a session with the MISFITS: loads of “ahahahhhs” over standard power chord progressions and heavy drums. After several singles and EPs, FIDLAR is finally out with a full length self–titled album on Mom and Pop. An acronym for “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk,” this band has been on the ascendant, getting noticed in NME and Pitchfork and touring relentlessly. (By the way, Elvis and Max are of punk rock lineage, their father Greg was in Long Beach punk legends T. S. O. L.)
So what makes them special? First, the mind-blowing catchiness. Amidst the hundreds of scrappy punk bands out there, FIDLAR has a handle of making songs that are actually pleasant to listen to. Think early RAMONES (with more edge) and fellow skate punkers THE FACTION, with vocals that reminds you of Frank Black of the PIXIES. Second, subject matter: how can you not love the lyrics that could only come at a certain age in life, when your main goal is getting really, really fucked up and your only challenge is dealing with the hangover? Song titles like Cheap Beer, Blackout Stout and Cocaine speak to whatever poison you like. Paycheck is about the morning after, trying to reconstruct the night, the chorus is “Did I sell my T.V./Or did I give it away?” The only disappointment is Wake, Bake, Skate which was released last year as a single, has been slowed down and over produced for this release, and it loses its intense, desperate edge. The hidden track talks about how “It kinda sucks being 22”, lamenting being back to pissing in the backs of cars and getting kicked out. So if the majority of the album is an ode to balls-to-wall partying, the last little gem, (which is a slowed down borderline straight rock song) is about the inevitable come-down. Now let’s just hope they all don’t O.D. And if you happen fo be in Berlin next month – they will be featured as part of Introducing.de series at Bii Nuu on February 13th which is definitely worth a visit.
You can stream the entitel album over at Pitchfork.
FIDLAR on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION