While The Flaming Lips’ upcoming show at the Amphitheater at Station Square has the Pittsburgh music scene buzzing with excitement and possibility (it’s their first appearance in the area in seven years), the opening act the native Oklahomans slotted for their summer tour has quietly defined the sound of 2010’s hottest months.
With their self-titled debut album released in late March, Fang Island have crafted what is almost certainly the greatest pure guitar record of the year. Combining the pummeling, dueling axe theatrics of vintage Journey and the unabashedly life affirming harmonies of Andrew W.K., the Brooklyn by way of Rhode Island group truly live up to their self-described aesthetic of “everyone high-fiving everyone.” Tracks after the jump.
They have remained under the radar even amidst rave reviews, but got a major boost from The Flaming Lips, who have an almost uncanny knack for hand picking opening acts before their relevance among the indie elite is fully realized (Deerhunter in 2006, Black Moth Super Rainbow in 2007, Evangelicals in 2008, and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti coming up later this year ). And from the looks of it, Fang Island appear to be destined for great things.
“Sideswiper” is the guitar epic of 2010, opening with a 1:30 of virtuoso, interlocking, upbeat Fender pyrotechnics before breaking down into what could passed off as a Mellencamp outtake from Pink Houses, adding another layer to Fang Island’s appeal: while the group does seem partial to flourishes of post-rock grandeur, they aren’t frigidly serious (as most post-rock guitar outfits are). The second half of “Sideswiper” has the warm feeling of five friends jamming in a garage on a sweltering June afternoon, underlining the fact that this music is loose, human, and fucking fun.
“Life Coach” is fun like kindergarten playtime, relying on a plucky see-saw rhythm that eventually evolves into a healthy gallop, stopping and starting for swells of “Ohh’s” and “Yeaaahh’s” while the guitars excitedly crescendo.
Both tracks, along with the group’s trademark “Daisy” (see: Plan Your Week Accordingly) are three high points of an album that has many, setting the stage for Fang Island’s M.O.: insanely talented musicians producing the most accomplished guitar rock of the year, and having shitloads of fun while doing it. So, make sure you venture out to Station Square a little earlier than planned tomorrow and take a listen to what 2010 actually sounds like.