Friday, January 6, 2012

House of Fools - Versus the Beast (2012) Early Review

1 Oblivion 4:56
2 Daylight 3:44
3 Another Place 3:53
4 Time 5:06
5 Dogfight 5:31
6 Love 3:59
7 Pickle 4:19
8 Happy Now 4:03
9 Pick or Choose 4:33
10 Cover Me 4:55
11 Need to Be Free 4:59
12 Johnny Utah 6:57
13 When the Lights Go Out 12:09

It's been nearly 5 long years since House of Fools released their epic masterpiece of a debut record Live and Learn, an album which disgustingly, very few people have still talked about or even are aware of. But of course as long as it's available to hear, it's never too late.

This long awaited and largely labored-over record finally dropped within the last week and as one who has looked forward to their next work, it did not disappoint.

Pretty much every track has something enjoyable. Specifically, the guitar solos, including some of House of Fools trademark southern-bluesy double (or triple even) solos, are perfectly placed and fit each song's mood. There's a bunch of them.

Song-wise, "Time" "Dogfight" and especially "Need to Be Free" stand out the most. Although, I'll admit the demo of "Need to Be Free" on Fresh Hot Shit, I may still prefer a little due to my love of fat, bubbly keys. But they added an interesting element by using a lot of vocal distortion. Some of the other songs that continue to grow for me include "Daylight," "Johnny Utah," "Another Place," "Oblivion," and "Pick or Choose."

The Pink Floyd influence is definitely here on this record in different spots, but one specifically being how they use samples and seguing sections at the end of songs, which maybe stands out a little more than on Live and Learn.

This album lyrically is about frustration, sarcasm and really a group of people who don't deserve the unlucky fate they describe at times. House of Fools got screwed over by their record company, Drive-Thru Records as evidenced in this article. They treated them like shit, as the often fickle two-faced record label-environment can be. They ended up suing Drive-Thru Records, which probably has as much to do with why they are still a band now, and how this album actually got released, as anything.

I imagine a lot of that story/background also will be told in the upcoming Kickstarter-Campaign supported documentary film When the Lights Go Out, which I personally did contribute to and look forward to finally seeing in a few months.

I keep enjoying more about this record, although I can't deny, I'm skeptical if it'll match Live and Learn's depth, consistency or longevity. But for a sophomore release, this is hardly a dud. And in some ways given it does differ enough from Live and Learn, it shows they are not interested in making Live and Learn Part 2, i.e. progressing/being-progressive in some ways.

What I can't help but still wonder is, the band wrote some 70 or more songs since Live and Learn. Some of which were on Fresh Hot Shit and a few others circulated in places online. Given that many songs were written, maybe some of those could get released somewhat soon if they are finished, mixed, mastered etc and the band are happy with them. Maybe even just on bandcamp like Kaddisfly and Bend Sinister have done recently. But I also ask myself whether this record does well or not, what are the odds the band is still a band even say 1 year from now. Maybe this album will surprisingly do enough for that to happen. Of course only *time* will tell. But for now, it's my early leader for 2012 Albums.

it's now available for $8 on cdbaby