Thursday, August 14, 2008

Three cheers for the Pacific Northwest! (Part Two)

“...please dont just surf the net and add us as your friends on here. only ask to be our friends if you have heard and actually like our music or are our pals from some other realm.”

It sort of bums me out to see that in 2005, Biography of Ferns left the above note on their MySpace page, only to wind up with a measly 481 friends three years down the line. Maybe potential fans are turned off by their boldly announced distrust of the government (in Pastel Gothic's liner notes), or maybe they're insulted by the point in said notes at which the band writes: “If you exploit anyone, fuck you. There will be a day when you are destroyed, figuratively, or realistically through the ensuing isolation when your senseless power and money grab unravels and what you had considered an insular community reveals itself to be mere specters of human forms. Your materialism will bite you in the palpable ass.”

Who knows? All that's fit to declare is that Biography of Ferns won't be accepting a major label deal any time soon. They're very much a group of liberal idealists who could only come from a place like Seattle, the rare place where upholding one's political values rules over desire for success, and thus, fame isn't likely to expand beyond the local.

Pastel Gothic includes six tracks already released on Biography of Ferns' 2004 EP, Memory's Servant, and the record itself is meant to display how they'd spent their time between 2001 and 2006 (they've also got another full-length, 2001's Merchants of Sleep and Purpose, which does not bleed into Pastel Gothic). Tellous – home to many Degenerate Art Ensemble records – released this record twice, once in late 2007 and again in April of this year, though it's uncertain when they'll release these brand spankin' new songs the band's gone on record as saying it's got under its belt.

The overall sound here is sort of a minimal drums-guitar-bass deal, sort of a generic alternative-that-thinks-it's-punk rock sound. I'm tempted to imagine, out loud, that this is what the Dismemberment Plan would be if fronted by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Except, you know, the Dismemberment Plan's well over and Cedric's rather busy, so Biography of Ferns have got Justin Hamacher instead. He's high in pitch, and throws in an occasional vibrato for a touch of class. The guitar on “Control Getsum” is uncomfortable, like the ominous jingle that occasionally appeared on Pee Wee's Playhouse, while “Build You Down” nicely rolls forward with a bit of stomp and “Stray Curse” is filler all the way through. This visit through the early 2000s is grating on first (and perhaps second) listen, but surely it's a grower, and the band's hopeful naiveté is, if nothing else, refreshing.

Biography of Ferns - The Charmer
Biography of Ferns - Build You Down
Purchase Pastel Gothic


Travis said...

i feel like someone from UPS was in biography of ferns. hmmm.

China said...

Why does that sound ridiculously reasonable?

Anonymous said...

hey! yes, brett and justin both went to ups. only justin is left in the band. it is more of as dance sci fi thing now but worth checking out. and they are idealists. live shows are hit or miss.

China said...

Well, hell, it seems like we've got a random and grand alumni network. Thanks for the info.