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  • Funky Was The State Of Affairs Funky Was The State Of Affairs Quick View

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    Funky Was The State Of Affairs

    Fergus and Geronimo's leap between their early R&B-influenced singles and their first wildly diverse record was so daring, many music writers and fans were forced to reconsider the pigeonhole to which they had already damned them. Happily damned them, since, after all, those early tracks went over exceptionally well. But observers and admirers were also left doing something not many get to experience in this dime-a-dozen singles renaissance: scratching their heads concerning what this group would do next. After a first record that was such a departure, not only did they wonder, they actually cared.



    Founding member Andrew Savage is very conscious of the risks the band took, the changes that were made in order to avoid being marginalized. Says Savage: "Jason (Kelly) and I had no interests in becoming lost in the indie rock/garage rock milieu. The nature of those early singles was that they were instantaneously gratifying, and we both wanted to make a record that was ultimately gratifying, but not necessarily instantaneous."



    Now we have an idea of how far Fergus and Geronimo are continuing to take their gradually conceptual ambitions, in the form of their second full-length record, Funky Was The State of Affairs.



    Like some of history's most well-regarded and oft-reissued acts, the group is doing exactly what they are compelled to do: making an album that actually plays like a cohesively complete statement. "I feel like bands aren't really making albums anymore. By that I mean, a start to finish concept meant to be listened to in its entirety. Labels are more interested in singles, which is in a tail-wags-dog sort of way.



    And yet the record is entirely unpredictable, even as it tackles reoccurring themes, which Savage says include, "aliens, technology, intergalactic dating/hooking up, the Roman Empire, and the earthling resistance movement." At times the story seems filtered through the earthling point of view; in the next, extraterrestrials listen to phone-tapped conversations by some understandably paranoid humans.



    Though at times it sounds like fairly serious subject matter, the group employs a sharp-tongued attack with the same sort of gallows humor cracked wise by the likes of their equally Doubting Thomas inspirational figures, everyone from the Mothers of Invention to Devo. Within the first few minutes, the tone is set; the bright, spiky, opening track over a Krautrock rhythm, "No Parties," contains a line summarizing the restlessness caused by the alienation of modern habits, sung in a mock-English accent: "Collecting devices, you're paying the prices/Of over consumption, with mental destruction."



    "Basically, its a dystopian sound-scape of our civilization's collapse," says Savage. Indeed, those feelings of dread are sometimes instrumentally emphasized by passages of synthesizer static and noise, which Savage attributes to being influenced by groups like Chrome. New members Bob Jones (guitar, bass, analog synth) and Jef Brown (Tenor Sax) also add to the playful chaos. Savage says the original duo added members in order to achieve "the tightness that can only come from recording with a live core," as "musicianship is extremely important to Jason and I."



    Since Brown and Jones both played in the self-explanatory Evolutionary Jass Band, which evolved out of the equally experimental Jackie-O Motherfucker, there is an expansion in the group's improvisational capabilities that wasn't as obvious on past recordings. Yet nothing sounds forced, each interlude is enjoyable, each hip-hop-inspired skit serves a narrative-pushing purpose. The record bounces from Booker T-styled soul ("Wiretapping Muzak I and II") to early '80s New York dance rock ("Marky Move") with an immodest ease.



    "Hi, I'm Heather Strange, and I'm a 23-year-old human earthling female" says a woman between the first and second track. "Really, I'm just looking for a man whose cerebral capabilities haven't been fried by LCD screens yet." Most people reading this might be able to relate to Heather's plight, or worse yet, sink under the weight of being the type of person she's desperately seeking to avoid. But such is the genius of Fergus and Geronimo. They have made all of these variously opposing forces; dark and light, alien and earthling, melody and noise, condemning and being condemned, something that you feel like listening to over and over again. If only to hear what happens next.

    1. Planet Earth is Pregnant for the 5th Time

    2. No Parties

    3. The Strange One Speaketh

    4. Roman Tick

    5. My Phone's Been Tapped, Baby

    6. Roman Nvmerals/Wiretapping Muzak I

    7. Spies
    8. Earthling Men

    9. The Uncanny Valley

    10. Earthling Women

    11. Drones

    12. Wiretapping Muzak II

    13. Off the Map

    14. The Roman Stuff is Where it's At

    15. Marky Move

    16. Funky Was the State of Affairs
    Fergus & Geronimo
    $14.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Unlearn Unlearn Quick View

    $13.99
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    Unlearn

    Named after the rival child gang leaders from the 1994 movie War Of The Buttons, Fergus And Geronimo's music is at times both focused and loose, and comes from a wide range of unexpected influences. At the core of the group is Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage, who met while Kelly was recording and mixing a record for Teenage Cool Kids, a band started by Savage. During that four month process of recording, Kelly and Savage bonded over music, the creative process of recording, and the possibility of having a band that draws from a variety of sources. Black and Chicano doo-wop, the energy and atmosphere of classic soul, the precise control of Frank Zappa, psychedelia, and a thought to nearly everything in between.



    Unlearn is the group's first full-length after releasing a handful of singles on various labels over the past two years. Unlearn is an 11-track history lesson on the world of popular music with lush R&B harmonies, authentic rock and roll energy, and a fair share of experimentation. Both members share writing duties and play and sing everything on the record, with the exception of Elyse Schrock's vocals on the title track, and Casey Carpenter and Monet Robbins on flute and sax, respectively. We went out of our way to treat every song as its own and to give each song different tones and atmosphere, says Kelly. This concept pays off like a jackpot, with each song as a unique piece of a patchwork quilt that fits all of the sounds and styles together like a brilliant puzzle. Unlearn at times sounds old and at times new, but always authentic and informed.

    1. Girls With English Accents
    2. Wanna Know What I Would Do?
    3. Powerful Lovin
    4. Baby Boomer/Could You Deliver
    5. Michael Kelly
    6. Baby Dont You Cry
    7. Where the Walls Are Made of Grass
    8. World Never Stops
    9. Forced Aloha
    10. Could You Deliver
    11. Unlearn
    Fergus & Geronimo
    $13.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
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