Foot Village-Make Memories (Northern Spy Records)
CD / DL / LP / Cassette
California’s Foot Village release a new album of “Tribal Noise Rock” that leaves LTW’s Chris Hearn feeling quite polarized and confused.
I can’t figure out if I love this or hate it. No, wait, I can. I love it AND hate it. ‘Make Memories’ both blows me away and annoys the crap out of me…no middle ground.
The live performance video for “This Song is a Drug Deal” is what helped to solidify the positive feelings I have for this release. The intense energy exuded by the band, and the closeness caused by having all four drums that are at the core of this band in a circle so they are all facing each other gives this sense that they are playing purely out of passion, out of love for what they are doing, and for and to each other, and we, as listeners and viewers are on the outside looking in on this small community.
But then, in what appears to be fits of artistic weirdness, they launch into some truly annoying vocals and lyrics at certain points on this album. And when I say annoying, I mean like nails on a chalk board while someone is squeaking Styrofoam and playing bagpipes off tune levels of annoying. But, I guess that is part of the deal. I mean, it isn’t about the singing, which often is more tribal chanting, screaming, shouting or talk-singing than actual singing.
Foot Village describe themselves as a “Tribal Noise Rock Band”. With that description, it suddenly falls into place. After reading that I say to myself, “OHHH, that is why they sound like that!” It’s the music that Foot Village creates I love. It’s the passion of the performers. It’s the concept. It’s the idea. It’s the creativity. This is a powerful album.
Opener ‘1600 Dolla Bill’ is an excellent, rhythmic, trance-like song that at times almost has a drone quality and can completely suck you’re brain in. Don’t operate heavy machinery while listening to this hypnotizer. At the end there are some vocals and the way they are presented totally agree with me. Excellent song.
‘AIDS sucks, Make Money’ is the point where I shake my head. Musically, it’s decent. But the vocals are killing me! Actually, I should say that the vocals AND the lyrics in this song drive me crazy. I can’t say I like many of their lyrics throughout the album. “We’ll never stop dreaming, we’ll never stop screaming, AIDS sucks, make money. Tell only lies. Know the truth but tell only lies.” What? Huh? I mean, it’s interesting and all but it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It’s like a pile of words thrown at a piece of paper and saying, “Here are our lyrics!”
I know, I know, these guys are trying to be arty and all. That’s cool. But that doesn’t mean it’s always working. There are many aspects of this album that are absolutely brilliant. Then you have these parts that are just absolutely….not. The lyrics tend to smack of trying too hard to be deep and terribly intelligent, but often come across as hollow and senseless.
I like ‘New Jersey’ in many ways. The drums sound fantastic here. I like the megaphone. But, then, quite frankly, it suffers from some of the same terrible vocals and lyrics that, to me, plague this release. ‘Warlock’ which features far more tribal screaming and just plain outright going crazy is a song that I find works well.
Then the annoying vocals and lyrics get under my skin again in ‘The End of the World’….but only at points. “Why is there a god, and why is there not?” Huh?? And do you have to deliver this in such annoying vocals?? There is some cool tribal screaming going on that I like. If they stuck to that, I would probably have no problems with this album as a whole. They can do tribal screaming well.
So, yes, I absolutely have a love / hate relationship with this album and this band. The parts that I like, I love. The parts that I dislike, I hate. Overall, ‘Make Memories’ is an album worth taking a listen to. The brilliant elements are brilliant, and can’t be understated. You can be the judge on the elements that have me whining and complaining for yourself.
Words by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.