Thursday, August 29, 2013

REVIEW: Fur Trade - Don't Get Heavy

Fur Trade is a duo consisting of Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat on synths/drums/vocals and Parker Bossley of The Gay Nineties on bass/guitar/vocals. Their new album is Don't Get Heavy, and it's an exhilarating, upbeat record with enough sonic variety and attention to harmony to keep you bopping for the entirety of its 41 minutes. They describe the sound as "yacht rock" - and I'm willing to consider that this may be an emerging genre. We've seen similar sounds from artists like Wild Cub, Beisbol and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. recently, all of them synth-heavy, drumbeat-based but featuring plenty of rock guitar and soul-influenced vocals. Not to pigeonhole, but I'm sometimes tempted to call all these "children of Steely Dan". Like Steely Dan, Fur Trade (and the others I mentioned) have a sound in mind and are willing to put in the work to get it, and don't feel constrained by "genre".

Here's a video for the title track:

Bossley himself describes the sound: “We take our shared love for soft pop from the 70’s and 80’s (Bowie, Sade, Hall and Oates), and add our own touch of modern grime and dirt in there.” It's obvious they pay a lot of attention to the sound - Bays: “Parker and I have very similar sensibilities when it comes to music that ends up in a sort of mad scientist being consumed by his experiments. I’m just obsessed with the blending of old equipment with digital sounds and the audio sculpting to us became just as essential as what riff or melody we were playing.” At the same time, though, they're creative and open enough in their approach to feature a decidedly lo-fi use of modern technology in obtaining the drum sound on "Voyager", one of the best tracks here. Bays said he was playing on a friend's drum kit, liked the sound he was getting so he recorded it on his iPhone - and claims that's the sound you hear on the record... albeit mixed in with swirling layer after layer of synths, guitars, multi-tracked vocals and effects.

Here's a live orchestral version of "Voyager":

Or you can listen to the album version at this link.

There are transcendent moments on this record - the entire second track, "Kids These Days", with its falsetto vocals and slightly off-kilter guitar line over a quietly insistent keyboard, is one.

Another is the last 3:00 of "In Between Dreams". There's something about the way the song (at 5:41 the longest track on the record) rides a quick tempo and treated vocals through the first half, then leads to a nice guitar line about halfway through, and they ride that the rest of the way through the song.

The record is out now on Last Gang Records (released July 23rd). You can learn more, buy a download or order at the links below.

Fur Trade website
Last Gang Records

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