[Image courtesy of Foggy May]
Together since 2010, Foggy May has stuck around to bring fans to paradise! Based on the amount of dogs on the album insert cover for their sixteen track record,Sal Paradise, the album, due to be released on August 31st, will be just that!
The band is made up of David Klima, Ben O’Brien, Reed Rhoads, a trio from baltimore, Maryland. Gigs under their belt include festivals such as Launch Music, Artscape, H-Street Fest, and Jersey Shore Fest, but Foggy May has also performed at coffee shops, private parties, carnivals, basements, and ballrooms all over the east coast.
“Intro to Mordecai” opens the album with building percussion and guitar, leading us into a deep vocal list of the track list for Sal Paradise. Playful guitar riffs and a bouncing bassline groove over bright, full percussion, giving listeners a first look at what Foggy May has to offer from a variety of tempos and aesthetics as the 4:21 track moves through sections as unique as the album’s song titles. One of the stand-out sections is the mellow area around 2:00, as the intensity levels out into groovy, ska-like rhythms with smooth, buttery vocals. Though the instrumental sections are longer than those with lyrics, the track still retains a balance perfect for fans of Strange Machines and Adventure Dog.
“Everybody Groovin” takes on a sharper, faster tone than “Intro to Mordecai,” proving Foggy May’s talent spans a variety of styles. Although it is also much shorter than its predecessor, “Everybody Groovin” packs a punch with quick, flashy bass, classic guitar lines, and sock-hop vocals. Although it feels a bit rushed, this is not a bad thing; in fact, the feeling of fullness provides the track with unparalleled energy that flows from the very base of the percussion, through the instrumentals, and into the vocals and lyrics themselves: “Baby won’t you be with me? / Darling, come and sit with me / Darling won’t you be with me? / And I just don’t have a reason / My heart will not stand still / I just can’t seem to please her….” The brightness and energy of “Everybody Groovin’s” overall aesthetic makes it a stand-out track for the album.
“Something Silly” takes the energy of the percussion and bass of “Everybody Groovin” and combines it with the beachy guitar vibes of “Intro to Mordecai.” The bass riffs during the instrumentals of this track are some of my favorite: They remain in the pocket, but fill it to capacity with little touches that maybe only a bassist would appreciate, but add to the track in a big way. The guitar tone of “Something Silly” is also spot-on, providing a high end that gives the track a sense of urgency that works well with the other elements of the song.
The guitar intro of “Baby” sets a classic rock feel for the track that I’m in love with. The bassline isn’t as prominent as in other tracks, but it does a fantastic job of being the glue of the instrumentals, illustrating another of the instrument’s wide array of uses. The steadiness of “Baby” is refreshing after the tension in previous tracks, which allows listeners to appreciate the lyrics in the forefront of the music: “Sitting on the floor / Thinking about you / I open up the door / To who I can hold to / And I’m thinking about you… / All I need is my baby.” As a whole, “Baby” is a wonderful example of classic rock made new and different in a way that fans of bands like Holy Vulture and America would be able to appreciate.
I love the ska style of “Oak Tree.” The song alternates between classic rising and falling ska guitar lines and creeping bass parts, the echoes of each falling to the other instrument in turn. The vocals stay steady in their sing-song rhythm throughout tempo changes in the instrumentals, creating a pleasing amount of depth while retaining the fun, playful nature of the genre. Every tempo and style change is in the perfect place to keep listeners on their toes from start to finish.
“Wet Shirts” takes Sal Paradise in a completely different direction, which is a decision I’m not completely happy with. While I love all the styles that Foggy May brings to the table throughout the sixteen tracks of the album, it could be interesting to see the songs split up into smaller sections that allow the band to really go in depth one genre at a time instead of creating a whiplash effect as we move from songs with ska influences to classic rock, to genres even further outside the realm of these. That being said, producing a large album with a variety of styles contained inside is a valid artistic choice, and it is not up to me to determine what an artist does in this regard. I’m only in the suggestion business!
In the case of “Wet Shirts,” I was a bit let down after the magnificence of its predecessors. The plodding, rhythmic nature of the track bored me a bit, although its style did allow the lyrics to shine through and create a story of mental pictures. While “Wet Shirts” isn’t the stand out of Sal Paradise, it’s far from a bad song.
“Sal Paradise” is the title track of the album, and its groovy, free-flowing basslines and strumming guitar patterns that won’t let down fans of Foggy May’s ska-style tracks. Just like many of their other songs, it creates strong imagery through lyrics as well as a calming effect of its instrumentals. The vocals show true emotion as the complicated love story unfolds: “But the road’s so long / I wanna make love to you, baby / By the seaside / Wanna hold you in the sandy weather / You’re the seaside / The ocean’s making me crazy….”
“Seafood Dept.” will jolt listeners out of that middle-of-the-album haze with its growly bassline, aggressive guitar riffs, and unique aesthetic that mixes ska, country, metal, and even Gaelic rock elements in a way that could be accidental or intentional, but works nonetheless. The aggression in the instrumentals flows through even the slowest sections of the song in the percussion, which continues a drive forward that never lets up or gives the instrumentals a chance to slip up. The vocals of “Seafood Dept.” show a fantastic range of style, too: In just one song, we go from growling metal lines to swaying ska sounds. Because it incorporates familiar elements into something completely unique, “Seafood Dept.” is one of my favorites of Sal Paradise.
[Image courtesy of Foggy May]
The bassy beginning of “High Run” channels the classic Sublime that everyone loves. Other than the fantastic representation in the low end, the lyrics and background harmonies are the focus of the majority of “High Run:” “Running in the temple / You know we got the high jump / You know we got the fast run / And what I got to get ya / Is what we call high run.” I could be wrong, but do I sense an allusion to Temple Run here? Either way, with a classic, dragging ska feel, “High Run” is definitely going to be a hit with Sublime fans!
“Cabo Wabo” is a surprising departure from many of the other tracks that I am not the biggest fan of. It seemed like a bit of a joke song with its sound effects, whiny electronic plodding, wavy vocals, and lyrics: “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger / Mmm, mmm, mmm /Cheeseburger, cheeseburger / Mmm, mmm, mmm / Well it sure ain’t clear if it’s a dog or a dear….” While I can see this track appealing to fans at a show who want to feel like they’re in on an inside joke, I really can’t see anyone sitting down to listen to the track seriously. That being said, if you’re a fan of funny, offbeat songs, you’ll love “Cabo Wabo,” and I can appreciate that, too.
The opening tones of “Siel” carry more weight than many of the other tracks of Sal Paradise. With washes of electronic waves and a slow tempo, the song flows into the vocals, which are pushed more into the background than usual, giving it hints of bedroom pop to the record. Although the auditory differences between “Siel” and previous tracks make it unique, it isn’t my favorite track of the album because the slow buildup of tension didn’t really feel like it went anywhere in the end. The spacey, free-form vibes of the instrumentals could be interesting in a different context, but I dislike the combination with the vocals: Everything feels just a bit too high and stilted, even with the low end represented in the bass. At 6:51 , “Siel” was just a bit too long for me to really stay focused on what I enjoyed about the song.
“Melt on Me” continues the darker beginning theme with a bassy introduction and whispered, stylized vocals. In this case, less is more: I appreciate the simplicity to the track’s instrumentals and background vocals that allow the song’s aesthetic to grow gradually and explode into a party of sound with swinging guitar riffs and obscured vocals. The guitar and bas lines follow each other, mirroring the lyrics at times to create a unified sound for much of the track. In a wonderful mix of bedroom pop, shoegaze, and ska elements, “Melt on Me” will please fans of many different genres.
“Koko” twinkles into the album with prominent vocals and a building sense of emotion as the lyrics speak in thanks to someone special: “You have always been there for me / Your black hair is oh so fluffy / And every day I hope and pray / You have always been there for me / And I know at times you were scared to be. The song’s soft bassline and rounded chords provide a gentle feel that suits the lyrics and meaning well. Pets are an important part of life that aren’t often acknowledged, and Foggy May did them justice in “Koko” in a clever way.
The next three songs serve as a three-parter. The first, “Skivi Runnin Lovin” is not what I expected at all. Its vocals are aggressive spoken word-style accompanied by an equally forceful bassline. As we move into part two, “Taco Yum Yum (Pappasitos Cantina),” we continue many of the same musical themes, but add more instrumental elements such as classic rock-style guitar riffs and a complementary bassline with many impressive little parts of its own. The electronic elements during the bass solo do take away from it a bit, but it still adds an element of serious musical expression to a song that is otherwise on the comical side thanks to the lyrics.
“Diamond Scotchie” is the final part of the “Taco Yum Yum” songs, as well as the last song of Sal Paradise. After fifteen other tracks, it should be hard to come up with something new, but “Diamond Scotchie” does a good job of combining other musical themes from the other tracks, such as incorporating part of “Baby,” and also dipping a bit into many of the musical genres covered such as ska, grunge, and classic rock. With a bona fide bass solo towards the end of the track to top it all off, I couldn’t be happier with how Sal Paradise closes out.
Look out for Foggy May when they play at The Pond in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Friday, September 6 to celebrate their new album!
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***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post.***
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