Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Exile Parade - "Fire Walk With Me" b/w "Still Number One" (Self-Release - Single 2008)

First of all, I'd like to thank Warrington, UK's Exile Parade for sending me 25 copies of their new single "Fire Walk With Me". I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do with such largesse, but I can't fault them for their generosity. I would hand them out to my friends, but my phone hasn't rung anywhere near 25 times since I quit drinking. Just goes to show - never quit drinking. Never.

The cool thing about "Fire Walk With Me" is that, while it instantly brings the word "Mudhoney" to mind, it seems to be drawing more from the same source material that inspired Mudhoney rather drawing inspiration from Mudhoney itself. The similarities are glaring, but Exile Parade, on this song at least, brings its own distinctive spin to the melange of influences that came to fall under the umbrella term "grunge". The production, credited to Owen Morris, is cleaner than Jack Endino's (which, in my opinion, is no bad thing), the fuzz lead guitar riff is equal parts Wayne Kramer/Ron Asheton, and lead singer Lomax [sic] has a gravelly shout that occasionally slips into Lemmy Kilmeister territory. In short this song would not sound out of place in a "grunge" specialty show on late 80's college radio. It would fit so well because, as mentioned above, these guys seem to have a reverence for The Stooges, The MC5, and other bands that led to the rise of "grunge" as a sub-genre rather than for "grunge" itself. This makes for "Fire Walk With Me" being a fine little listen.

It's the b-side where things get a little confusing.

While I'm certainly no opponent of bands displaying their diversity I'm not sure that a two song single is necessarily the proper venue to span two opposite extremes. In the context of singles, a band should play to their strengths in exploring a certain musical style, and save the surprise of displaying their strengths in exploring another for the next single. The early Rolling Stones were masters of this (or, depending on who you believe, Andrew Loog Oldham was).

Exile Parade shifts gears dramatically for b-side "Still Number One". The aural assault of the a-side has been traded in for a much poppier sound that is honestly more reminiscent of mid-80's Big Country or, while hailing from America, the heavily British influenced The Call than big, loud, in your face rock. It's not a bad song by any means - it's just a jarring shift in style, especially in a CD format in which it follows immediately on the heels of the aggressive energy of "Fire Walk With Me". It might work a little better on vinyl, in which there's the necessary delay of flipping the record over, but I'm not convinced even that would be enough.

I'll be interested to hear Exile Parade's upcoming full length to see if they integrate the two styles more smoothly, or even make a greater diversity of sounds work. For this single, while the songs are solid and show promise, they don't really seem to indicate a direction. If these boys can get that niggling detail worked out they may just be a force to be reckoned with.

2.5 out of 4 parades


RockerChick said...

I completely disagree. I think the contrast of the two song's are so extremely different and the simple fact that they had the musical guts to put them back to back is genius. It seems Lomax's voice is unstoppable paired with the contrast of the band is just brilliant. This is a band that's going places

MiseryCreek said...

Fair enough. Thanks for stopping by.

Ryan Davies said...

This seems like a pretty pointless comment, but I just stumbled across this post as I'm looking up Exile Parade and different people's opinions on them. I've directed their latest two music videos (halfway through the third) and we're all having a ball. Just thought it'd be interesting to read the views of different people on the band. I love them!