Review: Gibberish by Flagman

For a first album (or any album in general), Gibberish rocks! Out since May of 2018, Gibberish is the first album of Flagman. The three-piece includes Cody Singleton (guitar/backup vocals), Grand Freeman (drums), Sam Stewart (bass and lead vocals). Cody and Sam have been writing together since August 2015, and the band has been playing live since the summer of 2016.

Since Flagman is about to go into the studio for their second album, we may as well enjoy the first while we wait!

As a whole, Gibberish is an extremely professional, well-recorded first album. If I had not known it was a debut, I wouldn’t have been able to guess. I am thoroughly impressed with this record, and if you don’t listen to it, you’re definitely missing out!

The first track of the album, “Headache Talking,” is like the powerful thrust of a rocketship lifting off to space. It leaves no room for gentle introductions; we’re all-in right away. The driving drum lines work to effectively drive the guitar and basslines forward underneath strapping vocals.

“All the Way” continues with the momentum generated by “Headache Talking.” The lyrics  have a wonderful rhythm to them that goes well with the instrumental lines, particularly the lines,”We’re just too tired to wait ’till the show…/Nobody questions us while we are young.” Somehow, there is still plenty of room for the lyrics to shine despite the fact that the rest of the parts are so fleshed out. “All the Way” is the perfect example of balance between instrumental and vocal parts.

“Naked in the Kitchen” starts with a wonderful warbling instrumental line that is echoed as a motif throughout the track. The basslines in particular are incredibly impressive with a Les Claypool-inspired style that definitely isn’t easy to pull off. Fans of Primus will love the flair of this piece in the basslines and otherwise.

The third song, “Toilet Town,” gave me Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bring Me the Horizon vibes in the best way, but it was still distinctive as Flagman. The rhythms and riffs sounded like they were precisely put in the perfect spots, not a note out of place. The vocals are just enough to allow the instrumentals to shine, while also taking a moment of glory for the singer. The driving instrumental lines in particular were what attracted me to this track as they swept me up and pushed me through the song to a gorgeously simple yet effective bass/guitar solo section. “Toilet Town” definitely plays to Flagman’s strengths of soloing, steadfast drum/basslines, and the right amount of vocals.

“Toilet Town” leaves off in a perfect place for “Blockhead” to come in. The vocals come into play in the forefront of “Blockhead’s” primary rhythms, creating their own staccato attitude for the song to follow as it continues. Lyrics like “Understand the world won’t listen/Trust in me but I’m no different” drive the track, making it truly something special, much like the other songs on Gibberish. If you asked me to pick a favorite, it would be hard, but “Blockhead” would certainly be in the running.

The next track, “Fall,” continues the themes and sounds of Flagman’s other tracks, but slows the hard-driven instrumentals down a bit to really accentuate the vocals and individual parts. At this point in the album, the tempo change and slight alterations to common themes are the perfect ways to keep an audience fresh and interested.

“Jealousy” is also a bit different from the other songs on Gibberish. While this is my least favorite track of the album, it’s still pretty great in a Green Day sort of way. The vocals are more pop-punk than a lot of the other tracks and there is a lot more space in this track as compared to denser songs such as “Toilet Town” and “Naked in the Kitchen.” I could see this track being fun live because of the energy behind each part.

The eighth track of Gibberish was”Waiting. ” Much like “Naked in the Kitchen,” I got some Les Claypool feels from the bassline, although not as much from the rest of this track in particular. That being said, I did love what they did with it. There was more space than in many of the other tracks, but in a tasteful way. The lyrics and melodies were incredibly catchy with just the right amount of rub.

“Melt” also reaffirmed my theory about the bassist’s Les Claypool influence (I’d love to know if I’m right!). Besides the awesome bassline, the rest of the song was very driven and aggressive with many dissonant tones and complex melodies to keep me interested in the track. Although it was one of the longest at four minutes and fifty-seven seconds, I didn’t get bored once.

The final track of Gibberish is “She Crawls.” Beginning with a quiet bassline that is soon accompanied by a singing guitar part, this song is a great ending to a great album. It’s quieter than most of the other tracks for a large portion of the song, allowing us to reflect, but then Flagman turns it up again in a similar style to “Jealousy.” By incorporating a little element from each of the previous tracks, we get the perfect amount of closure from “She Crawls.”

Keep a lookout for Flagman’s music in future posts from me…maybe even on my top 10 of 2019 list!

Flagman hopes to go on a small East Coast tour later this year. Keep a lookout for them to see some awesome live music.

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