Key Tracks: Hello, Doubt: “Little Boy (Who Dreams)” “Not a Day Goes By” / End End End: “Laughter Guns” “Teenage Kids”
Let me start by breaking character for a minute and saying that I recently received an interesting submission for this blog. Nikita, a man slightly younger than myself and residing in Ukraine, sent me a link to the bandcamp page for his band, Phooey!, and asked me to review something on the more recent side. Phooey!, very much led by Nikita, has four times as many releases as years that the band has existed – 12 releases, including seven EP’s. Seven EP’s might seem troublesome for a young group, but each is drastically different than the next. Their only two full releases are an LP that is not on the more recent side of their discography, and a collection of cut tracks that are self-described as “very awful,” so I chose two of the EP’s – “Hello, Doubt,” released this past February, and “End End End” from August 2012.
“Hello, Doubt” is their most recent solo release (second to a split they contributed two songs to), an offering of six, though really five, songs that fall somewhere between indie-pop and punk. The EP’s first four songs are all guitar-heavy, fast bits of fun pop/punk. All four, although especially “Not a Day Goes By,” mix catchiness, volume and harmonies into enjoyable jams that immediately get stuck in your head. The last two songs are more calmed and laid back, with “Cheetah” as a partially acoustic track and “The Elevator Song” a quick outro.
“End End End,” meanwhile, has distinct punk/noisepop qualities to it, a far cry from the band’s original acoustic recordings. The EP is a fun kind of punk – like some of Japanther’s more recent albums. It’s fast and loud, without taking itself too seriously. And it has some lo-fi elements of muzzled vocals and fuzzy guitars, usually uncommon in punk (although growing in popularity). The EP is structured like a full-length album, actually having a distinct beginning of three energetic songs, a middle of two shorter songs that form an interlude, and three slightly longer and more developed songs to close out. It’s surprisingly cohesive for a band that seems to want to dabble in everything.
And dabble they do – the follow-up to “End End End” was a sadder and more twee-based EP, “Girl Songs,” coming out only a month later. So it’s understandable why the band is focused on EP’s – they offer samples of all the different ways Nikita wants to go. The music on these EP’s can be a lot of fun, the work of a man who enjoys experimenting instead of settling down. I can’t say where Phooey! might go next, and they might not know either. But these two EP’s are two quick and fun releases, and show the diversity that Phooey! is about.
If you like this, try: Since I guess this is a band review, I’ll just say listen to Japanther. They’re more experimental but there were remnants of their music on these EP’s.
-By Andrew McNally