[12 February 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
When Cerberus Shoal ditched their electric instruments, went into hiding, and emerged with acoustic guitars and banjos and stand-up basses, they eventually became known as Fire on Fire. And with their debut EP—released exclusively on the Young God Records website or at shows—they announce themselves with authority. The five lively tracks are spacious and energetic. They course with life, all full of the clang and warble of old school Americana, and a crazed collective joy as the whole band harmonizes nearly all the way through the disc. Along with the traditional instruments, you can hear oud and doumbek and tamboritza and dobro and the kitchen sink somewhere in there, making their sound too off-kilter to be called something as reductive as “folk” or “roots”. The band can foot-stomp through the insistent pining of “Hangman” or “Amnesia”, or they can pull back into a beautiful, but still raspy, wilt on “Liberty Unknown”. The five songs here—clocking in at over 30 minutes—show Fire on Fire have a lot of sides, but most important is the sense that they’re not playing to anyone on 5 Song EP. The band isn’t performing. Here, the band and the audience seem to be one in the same. And the audience never sounded so good.