Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam (April 2010)

So as I sit here and wait for May to roll around with hyped-to-holy-hell albums by reliable favorites The Hold Steady, The National, LCD Soundsystem, and probably more, I’ve been given excellent, though not exceptional, albums by other never-fail acts like Spoon, Gorillaz, and Drive-By Truckers.  Considering that I’ve been hyping 2010 to be a potential holder of the title of best year for music, you’d think that me doling out A minuses to every seasoned veteran that drops a new album would be discouraging, but what keeps my hope truly alive is the fact that the best albums seem to be sprouting from unexpected places.  While my three favorite albums of this year are not debuts, the idea that even with the extensive number of albums that I am anticipating is so prone to missing the best material is exciting.  In January, Dessa’s A Badly Broken Code broke every rule of rap while showing that she was obviously the best member of local rap clan Doomtree, and Titus Andronicus’s The Monitor showed that the Springsteenian rebirth from last decade was still on the rise.

Then comes Foxy Shazam, the third album from the band of the same name, and after Eric Nally, somewhat notorious for live performances during which he ingests recently lit cigarettes, starts barking along with dogs woofing in the background, the “Bombs Away” portion of the first track completely explodes.  Nally howls ferociously to backing instruments that make you feel that the entire building is coming down on top of his unrelenting vocals.  When I say that music sounds “big”, I do so not to emphasize any actual importance, but a perceived importance of the music created by the general sense of grandeur that is felt.  Nally screams away at his very loudest, hitting any note he damn well pleases without coming close to straining.

After getting excited over Foxy Shazam’s straight-outta-nowhere masterpiece, I scouted out their first two albums, The Flamingo Trigger and the confusingly-titled second album Introducing Foxy Shazam, the first of which ranges from enjoyable to grating and the second of which ranges from enjoyable to boring.  Of the three talents they display on their self-titled, Foxy Shazam has only displayed unrestrained energy before, becoming experts of melody and pomp between albums.

Oh, did I mention that Nally is a clever bastard?  In a moment of optimism, he sends our spirits up by personifying life with “Life is a bitch, but she’s totally doable”, only to ground us back to reality with “She may be a beauty, but life is a bitch”.  On the second track, “Wanna-Be Angel”, Nally says that he wants his fans to be so punk rock, “so punk rock and roll”, but I’m not sure why.  Foxy Shazam reminds me far more of a very anthemic glam rock group, somewhere in between the screamed chaos of New York Dolls and the celebration of youth of Mott The Hoople, though reducing the influence to early seventies glam would be a tad reductive.  Nally’s howl certainly is reminiscent of the growl of Eugene Hütz, the frontman of the horde of gypsy punks known as Gogol Bordello, though Nally’s range easily outmatches that of Hütz.

To reinforce just how “big” every song is, the song whose chorus is “we unstoppable/no, we won’t be defeated!” aired during the Super Bowl.  The biggest fight song of this collection of fight songs was aired during the most epically overblown sporting event of the year, and fittingly so.

Then there’s the song that did it all for me.  “Count Me Out” is a song that I was sure was a cover of some routine classic.  With a chorus like “If this is what love is all about/You can count me out/Baby, count me out/Just count me out”, I felt that I had heard it somewhere before.  Turns out the Shazam turned out a potential classic that I figured already was one.  Considering that they don’t seem to be releasing it as a single, I think they have a bombshell of a song on their hands, and they don’t even realize it.

Foxy Shazam continues the pattern of me finding my favorites in the least likely of places.  With their triumphant third album, they’re on a high going down, down, down.  Don’t expect the next album to be anything.  Their style changes too wildly.  However, let this band revel for a moment in the gorgeous collection of songs that they have just released.  Whether it’s cheering you up or soundtracking you punching a guy in the face, Foxy Shazam is a clear winner.

A

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Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 4:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

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