Music

Hello=Fire: Hello=Fire

More cowbell!


Hello=Fire

Hello=Fire

Label: Schnitzel
US Release Date: 2010-11-23
UK Release Date: 2009-10-26
Amazon
iTunes

Dean Fertita, the guitarist and keyboard player for both Queens of the Stone Age and the Dead Weather, steps up to the mic for this latest project, which also features the backing of QOTSA members Michael Schuman (bass and vocals), Troy Van Leeuwen (bass) and Joey Castillo (drums). Van Leeuwen's own solo project, the utterly forgettable Sweethead, released its own eye-wateringly mediocre record in May 2010, so one might approach the project with some apprehension. As QOTSA spin-offs go, though, Hello=Fire, while hardly jaw-dropping, is a far more enjoyable outing in every way.

The album kicks off with a near-perfect trio of tunes. "Certain Circles" is a thumping rocker moored by a bouncing bass line overlaid with Fertita's sweet six-string-pulling and an array of guitar effects and synthesizer noodles. "Far From It" is the best song on the album, marrying moody keyboards to breathy, sly vocals, all overlaid a pulsating undertow that makes for an irresistible song. "She Gets Remote" is a straight-ahead power-pop anthem. More cowbell? You got it!

Fertita's singing doesn't have a great deal to make it stand out from any other mid-level rock 'n' roller; on the other hand, he usually, you know, hits the notes he's trying for. Also notable is the lack of extensive guitar soloing. There are plenty of sounds in the mix here, but they're generally worked in amid the verses and choruses. Solos are brief in some songs, and nonexistent in others.

After this opening trifecta, the band struggles. There are good songs to be had, but almost inevitably the fun dies down and a bit of rock-by-numbers creeps in. "Mirror Each Other" ups the tempo and the distortion, to not much effect, while mandatory ballad "Nature of Our Minds" fairly screams: "Look! Rocker dudes can be sensitive too!" Lyrics like "So I will see you when I see you / And I will tell you when I tell you" don't help things much.

Cowbell makes a much-appreciated return in the lively "She's Mine in Sorrow", while "Faint Notion" uses spiky guitars to good effect. About this time -- halfway through the record -- the listener realizes that keyboards and other incidental sounds are less in evidence than previously. This is a polite way of saying that the songs are all starting to sound the same. Generally, the back half of the album is weaker than the front, given a lack of standout tunes. By the same token, though, nothing really falls flat either. This is a good, competent rock album made by a set of good, competent rock musicians. "Someplace Spacious", "I Wanna Like You" and "They Wear Lightning" fit this description perfectly -- diverting enough to listen to, but eminently forgettable once they've ended.

Two exceptions to this are the short and punchy -- "Looking Daggers", bouyed by its frantically strummed acoustic guitars, and album closer "Parallel", with its mid-tempo groove, processed guitar tone and stoned-but-still-melodious vibe. "Parallel" fits nicely with the opening trio of strong songs, and it's a shame that the middle half of the album rarely rises above the level of decent, yet unmemorable riffage.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


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.