Review: fundaMentals, Full Mental Jacket

fundaMentals, Full Mental Jacket

22 Apr, 2014 Gary Hill

fundamental cover

 

Based on the name of the group and the title of the album, first time listeners will probably expect an act with a lot of humor in the mix. That is a pretty valid assumption. These guys really rock, though. This is a twisted kind of rock and roll. There is a slightly off-kilter edge to it. The vocals are a little rough around the edges and the music has some unusual features. It all works to create a sound that’s unique and fun. It draws from a lot of things, but the end result is a trademark sound.

“She’s Dangerous” starts the set off with a great hard rocking groove. It’s nicely quirky. The mix of sounds here seems to include Frank Zappa, Dr. John and Primus. It’s got some great guitar work running throughout. The vocals are the part that call to mind Dr. John. There is a real rough around the edges charm to them. They are mostly spoken, except on the choruses.

Imagine a sound that’s between Southern rock and Motorhead. That sound would be pretty close to the musical territory occupied by “I Do It All For Rock ‘N’ Roll.” It’s a real noisy rocker. It’s got some cool piano and at times calls to mind Molly Hatchet.

The vocals on “Streets of Time” have the same basic concept as those on the first two tracks. Most of the similarities end there, though. The cut is much mellower and more complex. Keyboards drive it, but the guitar is crunchy and prominent, too. There is a classic rock sound to it, but it almost leans towards progressive rock. The tone and atmosphere has a lot of character and magic. It’s arguably the best song of the whole set. It would be easy to credit the success of this song to a large degree on the piano. The truth is, the guitar works some major magic, too. The whole thing is just exceptional.

The riff that opens “Just Do It” has a bit of a psychedelic fuzz sound. The tune overall seems a bit like old time rock and roll with punk and modern hard rock in the mix. It leans further toward metal than anything else here. The vocals are in the same general vein as on the rest of the set. They seem to pack more punch here, though. Both the bass and the piano get chances to shine here. There is also some particularly inspired and intense guitar soloing here.

“Crystal Web” has a lot of punk in the arrangement. The thing is, the whole tune, vocal delivery included, has quite a bit in common with some of Neil Young’s distorted, raw rocking period. It’s a safe bet that people who like Young with Crazy Horse will enjoy this fuzz drenched rocker. This has some of the most incendiary guitar soloing of the whole set. It’s another contender for best song.

The closing track declares “It’s About to Get Loud.” It has many of the same influences demonstrated throughout the set. It land more in hard rocking punk meets classic rock territory. The Neil Young comparison becomes fairly well-earned here, too. This is another solid rock tune in the same tradition as the rest.

Don’t expect polished productions or musicians who seem flawless. That’s not what this is about. This is about raw power, some humor and a lot of fun. The range of sounds is fairly wide. Yet, nothing here fails to entertain. This is one thing more than it is anything else – rock and roll. One really can’t argue with that.
Review by G. W. Hill
Rating:  4 (out of 5)