Fairy Bones Unleash Dramabot!

In late 2013 Fairy Bones announced they were working on a full length album expected to be released the following year. I couldn’t have been more thrilled since Fairy Bones were my favorite debut of that year bar none and so their full length debut album became my most highly anticipated record of 2014. Except that it didn’t get released last year, the band wanted to take their time writing and recording it, making it perfect in every way, they even held a magnificently successful crowdfunding campaign to complete the recording and production. I had started to think it was never going to be released, then to further whet the appetites of fans they released two preview singles (“Waiting” and “Whipping Boy”) with accompanying videos last fall. This only proved that the time they were taking was serving them well and upped the ante on the anticipation even more. On the last day of this month, Fairy Bones will at long last release Dramabot. After listening to it religiously for nearly a week, I can say for certain that it was well worth the maddening wait. I am also certain that this album will hold up throughout the year and end up on many “Best Of…” lists by the end of it.

Fairy Bones arose from the ashes of Born Loser and the Hangers On, a fairly influential, albeit shortlived group that released one EP. The breakup of that band has led to members founding or playing in not only Fairy Bones, but Sister Lip, Naked Pizza, Head and The Cons.  Shortly after the breakup in 2012, BLATHO alums Chelsey Louise and Robert Ciuca formed Fairy Bones with brothers Ben and Matthew Foos. Since that time they have released an amazing debut EP and played  every venue in town , toured and played some more. I am willing to bet that I have seen Fairy Bones more than any other local band ever, because they took to live gigs to cut their chops and they played a lot and during that time, I couldn’t get enough. In fact lately, when I go too long between their gigs I suffer from what is known as “Fairy Bones Withdrawal.”

Led by the charismatic, power packed, dynamo Chelsey Louise (vocals/piano), with the insanely affable Robert Ciuca (guitar/bass/synth), the amazing Ben Foos (bassist/keyboardist), and the ever shirtless Matthew Foos (drums), Fairy Bones has been one of the most well received and well respected bands in town and their live shows are always stunning. Before they had even released their first EP in October 2013 they had already been signed to local label 80/20 Records and had begun recording with the inimitable Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket. They are one of the hardest working bands in town and Dramabot is the culmination of this hard work and dedication to their vision. They describe themselves as “electronic grunge rock,” but it’s much more rock than it is electronic and probably a bit more indie than grunge, but it definitely rocks through and through.

Photo by Jim Hesterman/Body Painting by Brandon McGill

Dramabot opens with a dark and ominous synth line before quickly kicking into the slightly sweeter piano line of “Demons and Dogs.” One thing I have to mention right from the start is that the production is simply amazing and this is the band playing at their absolute best. Upon initial listens I was completely struck by the absolutely magnificent strength of Louise’s vocal talent. It is clear that when not fronting one of my favorite bands she does thing like play Mary Magdalene in local productions of Jesus Christ Superstar.  Her voice is clearly trained for the stage and reverberates through your ears and damned near operatic. “You and You Again” has been a live favorite of mine for some time and here it is simply brilliant. From the stunning guitar to the amazing rhythms section, to the synths and of course that voice. The truly great thing is that the song on record reflects its pure electricity live, the sheer pathos of the lyrics. One night during a performance of this song a friend asked me as Louise was curled up on stage at the end of the song if she was alright and that sense is found here, which if fantastic and damned difficult to pull off.

The first single from the album was “Waiting” and while the lyrics are fairly simplistic, the vicious delivery of them speaks volumes. It’s a tremendous rock number with one of the best drum lines on the entire album, it is truly one of Matthew’s triumphant moments.  It’s clear why this was chosen to be one of the first singles from the album and every time I hear “I know I felt that way, when you were watching me,When you were fucking with me, and I was waiting” it just blows me away. What follows is probably my favorite live song of theirs ever. I can’t actually count the times over the last year or two that I’ve asked Chelsey after the show what the song was in their set that really rocked and every time, the response is “Slide 2.0″ and now it is finally on a record I can play all the time.  At just over two and a half minutes it is the finest rock’n'roll moment on the album, just complete perfect at breakneck speed, I promise I will never forget it again after listening to it a dozen times or so.  It should be considered seriously for a single, though it is unlike nearly anything else in their oeuvre.

What follows is just as nearly rocking and a song I do not have as much familiarity with, so for me it was like a special secret surprise, because if I have heard it live it’s been a while. Which brings up another point, there is a lot on this album that will surprise the most dedicated fans of Fairy Bones, even if they’ve been to every show–there are either songs they’ve never heard before or songs they haven’t heard in a while or song they haven’t heard like this before. “Heat On The Lips” is the perfect example of this and there is some serious pop sensibility to this number with a maddening pace. It is simply brilliantly wonderful and one of the highlights of the album for me. It finishes with a beautiful swirling synth line that’s magnificent and Louise laughing perfectly. Another live favorite by many favorites is “Jack” and on the record it is everything that their live performance brings to the table if not more. Once more it is a more straightforward rock number and everyone here is at their best. It may also be one of their best constructed songs, or rather best composed as all the players perfectly align for one of the most fascinating songs found here. Again, it could be another consideration for a single, but there is a lot of that going on here.

Photo by Jim Hesterman

The rock centric middle of the album continues with “Yeah Pretty Yeah” and here it is the lyrics that shine supremely. Whether it’s the opening salvo of “Don’t wallow in their glory, It’s the outcome- not the story, “You’d look better if you smiled more!”, Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s accounted for” or the haunting refrain of ” Oh, wolves don’t lose their sleep, over the sounds of sheep” this may be my favorite song lyrically. Musically it’s one of the most wonderfully vicious tracks, although there is some calypso slipped in there between the vitriol. “Trinkets” is another number that’s been a live favorite for some time. First of all it’s got a heavy as fuck bassline and a crazed guitar, once more the drums are insane as well. For such dark intonations in the musical backdrop, it’s surprisingly hopeful lyrically with the theme being ” Oh, I don’t believe everyone ends up alone.” Once more it seems that every song is a chance for Louise to top herself on how fantastic her vocals can actually be and this is just a perfect example of that. It makes me wonder if she could perform this album from beginning to end or if she would just collapse from pure exhaustion because you can hear her giving it her all on every damn song.

By the time that you get to “Butchery” you realize this is going to be one of your favorite albums for the rest of the year or possibly the decade. I just find the Fairy Bones sound one of the most compelling around and it’s all the right elements of furious energy, anger, sweetness, reflection and a continual sense of darkness around the edges. Their sound is a lot like life in the real world in that way and maybe that’s why they feel like a soundtrack to modern life to me. Here too are some of the cleverest lines on the album, if only for their sensibility: ” I can’t give you what you want, If you don’t tell me what you want, Seems simple to me.” Brilliant. What follows is the second preview single, and my favorite of the two, “Whipping Boy.” This is the closest that Fairy Bones get to a pop number here, accented heavily by the synths sounding like a retro organ. I love the vibe of the whole thing and I love that “reminiscent” keyboard piece right at the end that in no way evokes Sonny and Cher. And while it seems like it’s just a lovely little song and you aren’t paying attention, there’s some lovely lyrical darkness amidst the whole affair.

“Banshee” is two minutes of furious pounding madness, this is another track where Matthew just blows my mind completely, here too Ciuca’s guitar is just brilliant withing the whirling chaos of this manic number. Because of this number I could totally see Louise spending a spare night or two fronting a metal band, but keeping it a complete secret. The grand finale is the longest number on the album, which still clocks under four minutes amazingly enough. For me, “Notes From Wonderland” just seals the deal on both how stunning this album is and how great Fairy Bones are, and how they have set the bar pretty fucking high for albums coming out in 2015. The final lyrics of the album before it goes out in a wave of feedback glory is ” Look me in the eye and tell me this is what you want” and I can say from the depths of my soul that I can look you in the eye and tell you that this what you need.

Be sure to get to The Rogue Bar on January 31st for the release party of Dramabot featuring Fairy Bones, The Burning of Rome, Gospel Claws and Nicole Laurenne (Love Me Nots, Zero Zero) playing solo piano, with live body painting by Brandon McGill. It is going to be a tremendous evening to celebrate the first great album of 2015. Dramabot will be available everywhere digitally on February 3rd!