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The Flaming Tsunamis
Fear Everything
Kill Normal Records
www.killnormal.com


Mixing of styles always proves to be a tricky operation, especially if the genres tend to deviate from each other. What I thought would be an intuitive combination of hardcore and ska turned out to be a harder nut to crack. Surprisingly, The Flaming Tsunamis capture more hits than misses with the genre hopping concept.

What really makes it work is the complete abandon of caring, the band just does it, to do it, not to please anyone; and that carries it a long way. This album almost borders on experimental for the risks it takes and the challenges it overcomes. Really each song would have to be analyzed on an individual basis to give a truly accurate picture of what this band achieves and goes for. On the lighter side there are some classic reggae moments a la The Specials in the almost ballad-y "Weaug, Teaug, Peaug (The Powder Of Life)", to the more middle mainstream tongue-in-cheek ska forms of Less Than Jake to the completely all-out hardcore based throat-wrenching fest found powdered across the record. What is amazing is that all these distinctive styles, and more, can be contained within one song.

Like I said, it doesn't work all of the time; there are a couple of the songs where this affect is abused to the point of it being annoying, but on the other hand there are some songs here where the same technique is used to stunningly remarkable ends, making the album completely worth it. "Bird-Watching And Vice Versa", "Satan Vs. The United States Of America" and "World Of Chaos" being among some of the songs that elevate this record to that next level. It ultimately depends upon the listener for which end of the spectrum they veer; I tend to favor the ska end.

Every instrument works overtime to carve out a durable niche in this ever evolving landscape of an album. Most prominent to me were the drums for never giving an inch in the harder sections and always flowing with the music during the non-hardcore bits, creating a nice uniformity which I directly relate to ease of listening. Similarly, the vocals change with the moods, vividly capturing the raw rage intensity and calm lyrical flows presented. Finally, the saxophones and trombone amaze me as they blend into almost any genre without seeming out of place and giving the album that extra something - making it all the more viable.

I still can't help but off-handedly label this as experimental. Even though the styles exist in a definite universe, the combination of them, like they are here, delves into completely new terrain. And though it isn't perfect, it sure comes close.

-bishop

Track listing:
1) The Ritalin Conspiracy
2) Bird-Watching And Vice Versa
3) Corpse Disposal For Dummies
4) Fear Everything
5) The Great Red Cross Robbery
6) If You Really Love Me
7) The First Rule
8) Satan Vs. The United States Of America
9) World Of Chaos
10) Bennett Brauer
11) Weaug, Teaug, Peaug (The Powder Of Life)
12) Shit Piss Die


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Mike Doughty



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