Doling out twelve tracks of time-tested American garage rock chicanery, the fundaMentals’ Get Off Our Lawn: A Rock And Roll Testimonial (2012, Port Charlot Records) puts on wax a singular collection of party anthems aimed at getting you rocking and most likely drunk (both good things). The debut record from Port Charlotte, Florida’s non-native sons and the self proclaimed “world’s oldest living garage band”, Get Off Our Lawn! is both a straight ahead, workingman’s rock/pop outing as well as a self-referential, at times humorous commentary on the fundaMental’s aesthetic and posture as a working rock band. As with so, so many similar groups cranking out unabashedly American bar-rock right now upon innumerable stages nationwide, you’re either with it or you aren’t (often determined by how much booze you’ve consumed), and given our long engagement with the whole “classic” rock thing (whatever that means), there’s a certain familiarity to the sound, feel, and poise of the genre that borders on alternate national anthem. Yet, with the fundaMentals there’s a playful edge to what otherwise could be all too easily dismissed as tired and over-worn rock paradigms revisited once again, and Get Off Our Lawn! is able to pull off some funny, memorable moments, sing-along choruses, and personal touches that strive to keep the band human and down-to-earth. Which, when it comes to musical egos, is itself a rare feat most days.
Falling somewhere in the ballpark of a broad spectrum of classic, garage, and southern rock wellsprings, it’s hard to put a finger on where exactly to land the fundaMentals as goes influences, and it’s perhaps easier to just explain them as playing the people’s rock music, plain and simple. Thus, Get Off Our Lawn! is replete with upbeat rockers (“I Do It All For Rock’N’Roll”, “Its Good To Be Me”, “Tick Tick Boom”, “See Me Around”), power pop (“Charade”, “You’re Not The Only One”), blues (“Guess Who’s Not Invited”), southern stadium twang (“Say It Loud”, “She Wouldn’t Shut Up”, “Mentals Theme”), and even a ballad or two (“Don’t Want to Feel This”, “I’m Not Afraid”). As such, the record’s lyrics, changes, arrangements, and contours should tend to evoke a type of familiar synesthesia for anyone who’s spent any time living and imbibing the rock’n’roll lifestyle. After all, with lines like “If bullshit was a trumpet, you’d be a Mariachi band”, how can you go wrong?
Lyrics and song subjects are generally humorous tend to not take themselves overly seriously – a plus all the way around. As such, the fundaMentals seem to be most in their element when tapping the over-the-top vestiges of the rock mainline, such as with the road anthem “I Do It All For Rock’N’Roll”, the bad-talking “It’s Good To Be Me”, and the crass, beer-soaked “She Wouldn’t Shut-Up” and “Guess Who’s Not Invited”, probably all crowd-pleasers in the live set. Other album stand-outs are the jangly “You’re Not The Only One”, the anthemic “I’m Not Afraid”, and the tongue-in-cheek “See Me Around”, which boasts the line above. Other tracks don’t manage to quite pull it off, such as “Say It Loud”, which gets out of the gate alright, but sags around the edges, and the competent yet formulaic “Tick Tick Boom”. One drag on Get Off Our Lawn! overall may be this constant appeal to rock convention, though paradoxically it’s often where the band tends to get it most together. However, tracks like “Don’t Want To Feel This” and “I’m Not Afraid” attempt to inject a little originality into the mix. Another downside here may tie into the above moniker of the “world’s oldest living garage band”, in that the contents come off sounding very garage-like, and not always in the best way. Still, the band’s self-parodying and possibly high levels of inebriation makes up for this somewhat, though perhaps future releases will avoid little snafus such as the unintended tempo shifts and off-kilter vocal harmonies of “Say It Loud”.
However, all is fair in love and party-rock, so just let the fundaMentals do their thing already. For those who don’t need nothin’ but a good time, Get Off Our Lawn! has enough rock to go around.
Review by Reed Burnam