A dispatch in lo-fi aggression, the eponymous EP from Columbia, South Carolina’s the Fishing Journal is an affair more focused on catharsis than on creating new tributaries in the indie rock landscape. Recorded before the band evolved into a trio, the six-song record features Chris Powell singing and playing every instrument (save drums on one cut). As a result of this, the piece at once has a full-band sound, yet comes across as one man releasing his pent-up fury on tape.
Without warning, the record opens mid-riff with the blistering “The Words Fell”. Amid his accusatory howls, Powell hammers on the drum kit and shreds on guitar till it sounds like his fingers are bleeding, establishing the paradigm of punk immediacy that runs through most of the EP – crashing percussion, lumbering bass lines and cacophonous riffs recreating the turmoil, rage and self-doubt that comes with a collapsed relationship. In terms of production, musicality and Powell’s earnest exorcising, there is a definite link to the early work of Dinosaur Jr. and Hüsker Dü, and like those bands, Powell disguises subtle hooks beneath the distortion and feedback. “I Won’t Rest” is the finest example of this, toning back the ramshackle arrangements for a swaying slice of indie pop. It’s a sign that the Fishing Journal certainly has promise and hopefully, with a bassist and drummer now actively involved in the songwriting process, their frenzied sound will be more refined on their next EP.
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