Half Time at the Proper Name Spelling Bee," which toe the line between the cutesy and the smartly funny (and are so adored by fans that people decide to make tribute videos to the band, like the one above, in which someone took the already mentioned spelling-themed song and set it to clips of the spelling bee documentary, Spellbound). Secondly, there's the sound, which former Observer contributor Dave Sims aptly described in Paste magazine as sounding like "The Ramones fronted by Babe the pig." Then there's the energetic live performances, which, as seen just last Friday night at the Annex House in Dallas, feature the three-piece poppy, punky act jumping about like nerds oblivious to their own nerdiness (or perhaps just incredibly comfortable with that fact--making it all the more awesome).
Lastly, there's the creativity: Frontman Eric Michener hand-draws all of the band's posters is part of it. But another great example of that spark? The plan for the band's upcoming EP, Nom.
The concept's pretty cool: Michener recorded all nine of the disc's tracks fairly basically--just tracking his vocals and some acoustic guitar strums--and passed the disc along to The On Nom Noms (Denton producers Howard Draper and Mark Sonnabaum) to fill in the rest, completely devoid of his own input. The results? Some pretty great stuff, including the tracks "Larger Than Before" and "Tired Tired," which find Michener's nasally voice coupled with ambient pianos, cymbals and some faint choir singing--basically a far cry from (and fittingly, larger than) any previous Fishboy tracks. Another standout? The song "Accidents," which is more driving than most Fishboy tracks normally dare try to be.
Check Hype Machine and you'll see the blogosphere already geeking out about the geek rock that ensued (not to mention a few more downloads)--and for good reason. After the jump, Michener's press release notes on the disc, which will be officially released in mid-August, and its creative process. And, also after the jump? A free download of "Accidents," to boot.
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Originally the bedroom solo project of Eric Michener that began in 1998, Fishboy has taken on many forms. The past five years have seen the group transformed into a four-piece rock band that released 2007's Albatross: How We Failed to Save the Lone Star State with the Power of Rock and Roll, hailed by some as "The world's greatest twee rock opera" and by others as "The world's only twee rock opera." The band has repeatedly toured the nation, playing said rock opera to all who would listen. A great time was had by most.
But let's back up. To fully understand the latest Fishboy EP, two nuggets of truth are needed:
Nugget #1: The writing process of Albatross was 95% linear, in that nearly every track was written in the order it appears on the album. After the first song was completed, some thought was put into where to take the storyline and the musical flow of the album. Oftentimes full songs were completed and then scrapped because one of these two things wasn't working out -- either the plot came to a dead end or the flow of the album didn't work. When it was time to start the follow up to Albatross, it became clear that any attempt to use these songs would result in a lyrically confused mess of an album. Not that the songs weren't good; they were just abandoned plot lines to an alternate rock opera reality. And so a plan was hatched.
Nugget #2: Instead of gathering the band together to spend precious writing and arranging hours on these songs, the decision was made to blindly put them in the hands of a group of musicians with nothing to lose. Michener decided to hand over all musical duties and decisions to a local Denton, TX group of super-producers known as the Om Nom Noms. Michener took one trip into the studio, recorded vocals and scratch guitar, the guitar was deleted, and the Noms reconstructed the songs however they saw fit. Some upbeat songs became ambient, some hushed finger picked songs became rockers, and anything was possible in between.
The nine-song EP was titled NOM, not only after its creators, but after the sound of something eating another. It arrives on August 18th and will be pressed on 12" vinyl with album sleeves that double as fold-out prints hand-screened by the band themselves, for sale on yofishboy.com and distributed to select stores via HHBTM Records. The first 100 orders will receive unique packaging and a lot of little extras to be announced in detail once the preorder site launches later this month.