PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The Ferocious Few: Juices

The gap from the streets to the studio didn't have to be a long one for this fiery and soulful San Francisco blues-rock duo.


The Ferocious Few

Juices

Label: Birdman
US Release Date: 2010-04-13
UK Release Date: Import
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

The Ferocious Few's Juices might not be the MVP of blues-rock releases, but it stands a hell of a chance to win some kind of award for Most Exciting Player. Weighing in at 15 tracks scattered over just about 35 minutes, every second of Juices radiates the kind of booze-soaked, scrappy, ultra-lo-fi aura that feels like it's not so much delivered on a CD as it is sent rattling all the way to your ears from a street corner in the band's native San Francisco.

Daniel Aguilar and Francisco Fernandez crafted their sound on the street. Their new release on Birdman Records makes no qualms about letting that show in an era when many of the Ferocious Few's garage-duo peers have moved on to bigger and more production-heavy pastures after feeling the heady effects of their genre's recent revival.

Juices is fast, noisy, and by no means perfect, but as its tracks rush past curling country fire and soul-tinged brimstone it's hard not to want to roll down the windows and ride along, troubles be damned. That muscular big-block feel is most evident on songs like “Loc'd Out” and “Kathleen”. The latter is a red-blooded bit of skirt-chasing featuring a shimmering organ line that slices in and out of the the interlocked guitar and pounding drums. It's simply built and raw and would be pretty much indistinguistable from any other “beauty queen / finest girl I ever seen” barroom staple if not for the fact that it, like much of Juices, finds a way to cram a setlist full of energy into about two minutes of run time.

What really makes these songs work is the way Fernandez's sun-cracked drawl cuts through against the album's steady pound and rasp. He's often able to turn on a dime, going from completely unintelligible soul-preaching to razor sharpness just in time to wring the right emotion from a given lyric. There are moments, such as on “As The Days Go By”, when he starts to sound a little like Chris Cornell did back in his Soundgarden days, and others (like “Crazy Love”) that swing closer to Dylanesque ramble-folking. The haunting whistled choruses on “Cryin' Shame”, played against the dripping blood, crimson sunsets and rueful heartache of the lyrics, make it a standout among its many peers.

Fernandez's delivery starts to wear out a bit as Juices presses on, as on “Sawblades”, when resonant piano chords join in the mix, or “Anywhere in Love”, which plays out like a bizarro blues version of something that might have been written by the early Beatles. This is a classic case of a band that's trying to show off everything they can do when they would probably be better off focusing on their evident strengths.

When Juices runs into moments of trouble, it's occasionally to do with the recording itself rather than with the band. Yes, this is the lowest of lo-fi, and hearing Juices really captures the unique feeling of being surprised by a little-known band in a smoke-filled bar at a dusty crossroads, but one gets the sense that the fire the Few have on tap would benefit from just a tiny bit more polish despite the band's wise choice to skip out on full-fledged luxury detailing. The occasional spurt of superfluous echo effect pops up on certain tracks, and Aguilar's steady one-two-punching battery sometimes sounds muffled, as if it had been recorded down the block from the epicentre of the Few's sound. Thankfully, these problems don't rear their heads often enough to become a distraction.

After nearly starting us dancing in the pews on the album's most explicitly soulful track, the aptly named "Lord O Lord", Juices closes with the acoustic ballad “16th Street”. It's a charming unplugged coda to the half hour of sweltering Southwest soul that precedes it, and yet it doesn't feel an inch out of place in the Few's repertoire. It's to the band's credit that they can make the blood and guts of blues self-evident, rather than letting the music turn into something that's about who can scrawl out the twistiest solos.

The Ferocious Few manage to do their hometown street corner proud on Juices. They've done everything they can to squeeze the undiluted energy of their live work ethic onto a little plastic disc. While it occasionally shows cracks around the edges, the band should be given credit for injecting some old-school soul back into the blues-rock bloodstream.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.