Distinctly different from many bands in Los Angeles, these East-side indie rockers will likely be making a rough choice in the months ahead. Their music tends to spill on both sides of the indie rock and pop aisles, sometimes labeled as post punk dance or even art punk dance (whatever that is). I'm comfortable with a different split.
On one side, there are songs like Carwars and Where Did It Go Wrong, and Just Because. On the other are Chalice and NYC Moves To The Sound Of LA. While the former is tracking with twice the play on their Myspace page and elsewhere, the latter is what put Funeral Party on the radar. Nobody bumped to Chalice, as one agent described it. They thrashed to it.
"I always knew it would end just like this. So pour me one last drink with a final kiss."
This lyric and others from the recently released single Finale rip through the unpredictability, back-and-forth, and hit-and-miss nature of relationships. Chad Elliot sings them across an uptempo and aggressive instrumental. Even with a somewhat roughly layered band chorus made up of studios solos toward the end, it works.
Give a second listen if you feel Elliott's vocals sometimes strain when they drift too high. Once you settle into the song, his voice expresses an urgency that works well with the raw stylings from the band's roots. For comparison, listen to the second and third tracks on the original Bootleg EP released by Fearless Records in 2008.
The imperfections are exactly what you might expect to hear from a band that was best known for playing backyard parties and borrowed instruments, a factoid now pressed inside every bio and interview since the signing with RCA at a UPS store. Since then, the band members still seem dazed by the solo studio work with Lars Stalfors and tours in the U.K. and Japan.
Sometimes it still happens that way in music. And it seems to be happening that way for Elliott (kyeboard/vocals), James Torres (guitar), Kimo Kauhola (bass), and touring members (strange) Tim Madrid (percussion, keys), and Robert Shaffer (drums).
"Drawing you forward, pushing you back."
I liked their sound when I first heard them on a college radio station before the signing, and I still do. But what prompted me to add them in now is that there is some uncertainty on their direction after this album. Rock or pop? Something tells me it will be pop, even if I like their coarser work better.
You might even find a foreshadow to some changes ahead from the recent interview with ARTISTdirect. Elliott talked about the differences between the U.K. and American music scenes. He sees the U.K. caring more about music and U.S. looking for celebrity coolness. But what he doesn't see yet is that it's music like Finale that makes the coolness. Not much else.
Finale by Funeral Party Buries In At 6.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Here's to hoping the boys keep it real. And if not, then it's great to know they gave us some solid, scratchy rockers. You can pick up the single Finale on iTunes. Finale is also on Amazon.
If you are interested, there is also a free download, Giant Song, from their Facebook page. It's alright, but skews toward that dance pop side. For another sound, check out their cover of The Faces' Ooh La La, which you can find online. It proves Elliott can sing.